Navy Dads

A bit of background before I get to my questions.

My son just arrived boot camp on 3/19, so exact details of when his PIR is are still forthcoming. I have read a lot of the post on flights, hotels etc. but have never planned a trip before. I am also on a pretty tight budget.

My questions mostly revolves around getting a rental car, and what airport to fly to.

Do I absolutely need a car? Or is it just a nice convenience to have. I understand there are other transportation options as well, ie: train, cab, shuttle. I'm not very savvy when it comes to public transportation. As I understand it, my son will need to be back at the base every night, regardless of what/when his future travel plans are.

My current plan is to arrive in time for the meet and greet and depart for home on Sunday. I will be traveling from the west coast.

Any help would be appreciated.

On another note, if I am not able to make the PIR, is there a way to get him his cell phone immediately after PIR?

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I am disabled and Sarge has gone above and beyond duty to make sure we were taken care of! He knows the tricks and the shortcuts that make the trip much easier. Do yourself a favor and call him.

OK guys, sounds like sarge is the guy to talk to. Thanks for the advice.

Also, in order to stay at the Navy Lodge, my son will have to get me reservations. Correct? Will that be any kind of hassle for him while he is in training? Or is it something that is talked about by the instructors at some point.

no...Great Lakes Navy Lodge is the only one that your sailor does not need to arrange reservations do need to provide his division number and PIR date when yo make reservations.....and those go FAST so don't wait too long......


We're headed out there next week for our son's PIR on 3/28. We booked at Great Lakes Navy Lodge for $71 per night. I'm told it's about a mile from the base so cab fare would be minimal. We decided to just rent a vehicle and drive there to minimize cost of airfare (for 9 of us) and then transportation once there. We're also bringing the family dog along as a surprise for our son and Navy Lodge has pet-friendly rooms for a little more money. Maximum number of guests is 4 for the ceremony but I'm told there is overflow capacity at the chapel and other places. Our son's biggest complaint is not being able to get questions relating to this topic answered definitively from the drill instructors but I'm sure it'll all work out.

Do whatever it takes to make it there; this is huge for our sons and daughters.  

OK - Thanks guys for setting me straight on that. I guess I am just waiting for his div. # and PIR date then.

Well then the RDCs are giving bad info to our recruits. My son's last letter stated the chapel handles extra guests. I've also heard directly from people who said they were permitted to take more than 4 people into the base. I'm only counting on 4 of us getting in and I appreciate that Navy Lodge will have it streamed but the varied pieces of info being distributed is disappointing. 

You've got some great advice already but I'll toss my .02 cents just FYI. We'll be there april 4th if everything goes according to schedule.
I didn't book at navy lodge soon enough so do book there early, they have a great price and really good reviews so rooms go fast.
I booked Virgin America into O'hare because that's where I found the best price plus its nonstop from San Francisco airport.
I got the best car rental rate from Ace. We plan to drive around a lot. Call them and mention Navy PIR to get their best discount if you decide to rent a car. If not i would go with Sarge for sure.
Good luck! I really hope you can make it.

Sean...Here is the direct link to RTC regarding PIR Guests. The information given from this site never varies...but if you know better....????

Thanks Tom. I've already read all the printed stuff and nothing in writing states more than 4 guests will be permitted. But like I said, I've also heard from several people who previously attended PIR and said otherwise. No big deal either way. 

I copied the following from a facebook page... clears everything up. 

"There have been questions about the Chapel on base. For the last 5 PIR's, it has been closed. At one point, the Chapel was a place 'extra' family members could go on base and watch the ceremony on a livefeed. They stopped this around the beginning of the year. I know some of the recruits are being told this by their RDC's, but these extra family members are being escorted back off of base by Navy personnel. Please have your family members watch either in the lobbies of their hotel, Navy Lodge hotel or computer in the hotel room."

Hello Ryan,

I was just there a couple week's ago.. Son's PIR 07MAR14 DIV 917 (Performance Div).. I stayed 05MAR to 08MAR..  If you can get there on Wednesday, all the better.  Allows for any delays in transit & gives you a couple days before PIR to enjoy & explore the Waukegan/Gurnee area and pick-up any necessities.

Courtyard Marriott/Waukegan great reviews - 4-5 stars!!  No regrets, Walmart across the street.. Denny's on the right.  Starbucks on the left.. and a few popular eateries all within walking distance circling Walmart.  Sarge's conveniently located nearby 2 min drive.  If you're going to avoid the car rental, everything except PIR is within walking distance.  Shuttle service to/from PIR..

ACE Rent A Car!  Disregard the online rates which is comparable to the big name brand rentals..  Call them via phone and you'll be pleased with the Navy grad discount.  I'm sure the rates do change but to give you an idea, I paid only $109.83 from Wed 05Mar to Sat 08Mar.  Drove around in a great looking red 2013 Hyundai Sonata.  Bear in mind, it was frigid artic temps, snow all over the place, with just a few brown slushy roads, I returned the car like it went thru a frozen mud bath..  Those guys at Ace are the coolest!  Shuttle service out of ORD..  Btw, it was Sarge that turned me on to Ace a week prior to arrival.  Never heard of Ace till he referred me to them and to ctc him if I still needed anything 24/7..

Sarge's Meet and Greet.. Try not to miss it.. You can go up and down the posts with all the great related info and I must say the posts do cover almost everything at Sarge's, but seeing it and hearing it was much needed assurance in my case.  I did this trip solo and just meeting anyone and talking helped with the anxiety before the big day..  Two words of caution for you: Dance Contest!!  Oh just do it and represent your sailor's division, it'll make for great memories..  I couldn't believe I actually got up and did it myself and all by myself..

Liberty (Grad Day)...  My son was in Div 917 (900 performance division)..  After grad ceremony, many of the guests proceeded across the yard to the NEX foodcourt/rec center to wait for our sailors as they settle their gear or prepare their belongings at their respective ships for transfer the next day. I waited approx 30 mins..  One of the great tips I got from Sarge was what to do with your new sailor during liberty.  Bottom line, anything he/she wants within the guidelines/rules of course..  I had planned a nice steak meal at a popular restaurant and when my son got into the car and I asked if steak sounds good, he said, "Sure Dad!  Even pizza is good enough"..  You bet we went and got pizza..  Because I spent most of Wednesday driving around, I did try this place called Jimano's Pizza Wed. nite and so on Grad day we picked up a huge deep dish Meat Mania and took it to the hotel where he was able to Skype with his sister back home.  Be prepared to play it by ear with liberty..  Oh, and be sure to return your sailor with plenty of time for him to get back to his ship.. We had till 7:00pm and got to the gate around 6:00pm.. If driving, the gate will direct you where to go, but essentially you can park right after passing the NEX and spend more time with your sailor at the little food court..  I was so thankful of the extra time because I was already sad thinking we were just going to say our goodbyes while dropping him off at the curb nearby..  The walk from/to the NEX parking lot can be heart wrenching..

The trip is so worthwhile for both you & your sailor and I hear you 100% with the tight budget..  My itinerary originated in Guam via Honolulu and I honestly considered cancelling the trip and just depositing the $2K+ airfare into his account and I know he would have understood.  Being a single parent and my son being the youngest, I couldn't imagine him going thru this day without family.  Never realized how much it meant till I walked into the grad hall and felt the Navy pride gleaming from just about every heart in that hall...  Best wishes to you & your recruit!

Les - Awesome post! Especially the last paragraph. Really puts some perspective on the whole thing.

On another note, I spoke with the recruiter today and got his address. I also asked the recruiter when his PIR date would be. He gave me the date. Is this enough to go on? Can I start making reservations and buying flights? Or should I wait for the letter from my son.

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