FORT SILL, Okla. (TNN) - For the last two months, we’ve been alongside basic trainees in the D Battery, 1st Battalion 40th Field Artillery and their journey is finally coming to an end. It was an emotional morning as families waited anxiously to see their Soldier for the first time in several weeks.
“We woke up this morning and I said, why am I nervous to see my daughter? But it’s been so long,” said Angela Nelson, PFC Amanda Nelson’s mom.
PFC Robert Rhodes is among the 144 Soldiers graduating.
“I am incredibly proud, I love him so much," said PFC Rhodes’ dad, Rob Rhodes. "He’s come a long way. I’m proud of you.”
PFC Rhodes’ mom says her son gave up a Division 1 scholarship to play baseball and instead enlisted in the United States Army.
“He’s always played baseball from a little boy, but he decided he wanted to play soldier more," said Rhodes’ mom. "We’re so proud.”
He made it, but said there were some hardships.
“You’re waking up early, going to bed late," said PFC Rhodes. "You see a lot of negativity. It’s hard to stay positive, but you just got to keep your head up and enjoy your time with your battle buddies, because it’ll be gone. Some of us are going all the way across the country.”
PFC Rhodes will continue on to Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas to become a combat medic. And so will PFC Amanda Nelson, who is an honor graduate. Before she ships out, she’ll spend time with her family, her heart filled with gratitude.
“I’m a soldier," said PFC Nelson. "All the movements felt so natural and it’s so amazing to show everyone everything we’ve done, the hardships we’ve overcome, the strength we’ve gained. I’m excited to show my family how professional I’ve become.”
Having communicated with her family via letters and short phone calls in the latter part of training, PFC Nelson’s parents couldn’t be more thrilled to see her.
“We’re overwhelmed, excited, and so proud of her," said Angela Nelson. "This has been a journey and such a sacrifice, not only for her, but for everyone here.”
Of the 189 we started with on Week Zero, 144 will graduate. Those who didn’t pass the Army Physical Fitness test will be recycled to try again and others will be chaptered out. But for those who did pass and will graduate...
“It’s amazing, surreal," said PFC Rhodes. "Being here for so long, it’s like, when will this end? It’s finally come, I get to see my family, I’m ecstatic.”
Soldiers had the entire day to spend time with their loved ones off post, with orders to be back Thursday evening. Graduation is set for Friday at 1 p.m. on Fort Sill.