The Airman's Run is the first event of graduation weekend at BMT, and therefore the first time your family will see you and you'll "see" them. Why the quotation marks? That's because you're not supposed to break military bearing and look at them, but I digress!
The Airman's Run takes place on the street behind the Reception Center. See those covered pavilions in the picture to the left? That's the Retreat Pad, so your families and loved ones don't have to go far to transition from one event to the next. [Review the graduation schedule here.] The Airman's Run begins bright and early at 8:00 AM on Thursday, so make sure your family knows they need to arrive for the festivities on Wednesday night if they're going to see everything. You'll go to bed the night before in your PT shorts and your squadron t-shirt, which is the required uniform for the run. We did one practice session during 8WOT for the Airman's Run, on Tuesday or Wednesday, in lieu of our normal PT session.
You won't eat the morning of the Airman's Run, but you'll have a snack when you return from the run (as described in the Retreat post). You'll probably be too excited to be concerned about eating at this point, so no big deal. Early that morning, you'll march with your flight over the bridge. On the other side of the bridge (pictured to the right) is a large dirt lot where you'll wait with your flight for the festivities to begin. There are a number of Porta-Potties on the lot if you have to go, but make it speedy. You'll do a quick warm before the main event begins. Everyone is amped up at this point, so you'll be hearing lots of war cries and squadron chants. Prior to taking off, they'll announce the Top PT Male and Female and take photos with those trainees. Check out these photos later on the BMT FB page. These individuals, as well as the top PT trainees in each squadron, will run with the commander at the front of the pack, instead of with their squadron and flight.
Your squadron commander will come out to the field to greet your flights, as they'll be running right in front of you. Finally, you'll all line up on the street and you'll take off! You won't hear much of an announcement, you'll just start seeing everyone take off, singing jodies (cadences). You'll be organized by squadron and you'll run with your brother/sister flight. The guidon bearers will be running with the guidon the entire time, holding it at a diagonal. The sort of running you'll do is called "Double Time," and it's pretty slow. The Airman's Run is about 2 to 3 miles, if that, and you have to maintain DCID ("Dress, Cover, Interval, Distance") with relationship to other trainees while you do so. Being at the back of the flight can prove to be really difficult during this process, since you'll rubber band back and forth, especially around corners. If you watch the YouTube video below, you'll see that it's not pretty at times! You'll do jodies throughout the run and your MTIs will encourage you to really sound off during this process to please your commander. Other MTIs from your squadron will also join you, as well as your First Sergeant. They'll wear squadron t-shirts as well, but while yours are cotton, theirs are a technical fabric.
Hitting the top of the bridge on the run is the best, because you can see all of the families and loved ones ready, waiting, and cheering below. Your MTI will lead jodies and your squadron chant the entire time. Other MTIs may step in for him/her, as his/her voice goes hoarse. Amongst all of the other flights, it will be very hard to hear. Being in the very back, I couldn't hear my MTI at all. All I heard was my brother flight's MTI behind me, and you'll be doing different jodies than them. I felt horrible, since I wanted to sound off nice and loud, especially as the Dorm Chief, but I couldn't hear at all. When we were practicing our run, one of the MTIs called me out on it and I had to let him know that it was impossible to hear. During the actual Airman's Run, I tried to mouth the words as best as possible when I couldn't here. What else can you do?
You'll run to the end of the street, make a left, u-turn, and head right back on up and over the bridge. It's an easy run and you'll be pumped from the energy of the crowd. Our MTIs stressed to us that we'd better not scan the crowd, look around (versus straight ahead), and/or wave or do something stupid when we passed our family/loved ones. It's hard, I know, but try to be discreet if you sneak a peek. I managed to spot my dad pretty easily on the side lines. :)
After the Airman's run, you'll march back to your squadron and prepare for Retreat!
Tips for Visitors
Prior to the Airman's Run, inform your families about the color of your squadron shirt, so they can be on the lookout. If you have a general idea of what side of the flight you'll be on, give your families the heads up if you can. It'll be easiest for student leaders and the guidon bearer, since their positions are consistent. If your loved ones make a sign, tell them about Build-A-Sign, where they can get a free, high-quality 3' by 6' vinyl banner. All you have to do is pay for shipping and any upgrades you may want (such as the grommets, which I recommend). They're a great company and I've ordered three over the years for various homecomings of DH's.
[All photos courtesy of J. Boone Pooler Photography.]