JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas-- After 16 months without families being able to attend Air Force Basic Military Training graduations at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, more than 1,200 guests viewed the ceremony July 22, with many shedding tears of joy at finally seeing their Airman recite the oath of enlistment in person.
This limited number of family members was allowed at the graduation of their Airmen from Basic Military Training for the first time since the Air Force suspended guest attendance completely in March 2020. Typically, the graduation ceremony has 3,000 to 4,000 people in attendance.
Jessica Flores was in a special place to appreciate the difference in being able to attend in person versus the virtual ceremony. She watched a cousin graduate from BMT about six weeks ago and was in attendance July 22 to watch Airman Basic Eduardo Tamayo graduate.
While she appreciates the need for safety precautions, she was very excited to attend in person.
“Being in person is more emotional,” Jessica said. “The music, the people, and being able to see the actual faces – there is nothing quite like it.”
Graduates also had the opportunity to spend time with their guests following the ceremony, provided they earned liberty during BMT.
“We truly understand the personal value and meaning attending graduation events in person has to our trainees’ families,” said Col. Rockie K Wilson, 37th Training Wing commander. “While our ceremony looks different, we want families to experience the culmination of building the next generation of Airman and Guardians, and to share that experience with others so we can continue to inspire and recruit young men and women to join our ranks.”
In the 16 months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, BMT has undergone the largest transformation in its history to include providing voluntary vaccination for trainees and developing a new parade ceremony for the BMT graduation.
Although the training program has undergone significant changes since March 2020, these adaptations have allowed the 37th Training Wing to continue to meet the needs of the Air Force. Current projections predict 34,000 new Airmen will enter the Air Force this fiscal year.
For BMT, safety is the top priority, and visitors are required to provide proof of vaccination in order to attend the ceremony. JBSA-Lackland is the single point of entry for the Air Force and Space Force enlisted, and the protection of this pipeline is essential.
BMT graduations are scheduled every Thursday. Information on graduation requirements can be found at http://www.basictraining.af.mil. To see more photos from the July 22 ceremony, go to .