Preparing for Army basic training graduation can be very exciting, especially when you have accurate information regarding transportation, accommodations, and agenda of the activities. To make sure you have the most up-to-date information possible, we’ve compiled many of the frequently asked questions – and their answers – that we get from families who are planning on traveling to Fort Jackson for Army basic training graduation.
When is Graduation at Fort Jackson?
Upon successful completion of training your Soldier In Training (SIT) will graduate a Soldier. Graduation will be held on Thursday during the tenth week of training. Graduation schedule’s may vary so it’s always important to make sure you write to your SIT and ask when their graduation day is scheduled for.
If you will not be able to attend graduation you can always view the Fort Jackson Live Graduation feed on the day of.
When should I arrive for graduation?
Most graduations at Fort Jackson will take place on a Thursday morning, following Family Day on Wednesday. If you want to make it to all of the graduation events (if you can you should) you should plan to arrive in South Carolina on a Tuesday. Even though we know you will be extremely anxious to see your new Soldier you will not be able to get onto the base or see them until your scheduled Family Day.
Where is Fort Jackson?
Fort Jackson is located in Columbia, South Carolina. There are three common airports that families will fly into for Graduation day festivities:
- Columbia Metropolitan (CAE) 25 minutes away from Fort Jackson
- Augusta Regional Airport, GA (AGS) 1 ½ hours to Fort Jackson
- Charlotte International, NC (CLT) 1hr 45minutes away from Fort Jackson
There are many hotels on and around base for you to stay in, and is recommended to book your hotels in as much advance as possible, as vacancy fills up fast. When booking your travel plans try to make sure your reservations can be refunded as 10% of SITs will not graduate.
Booking your flight and hotel with Sandboxx Travel is easy. Let our team of military travel experts make sure to take all the worrying out of planning so that you can focus on supporting your SIT through this journey.
What is Family Day?
Family Day is the day before graduation when you will get to see your Solider for the first time since they left for basic training. The day’s activities will begin at Hilton Field at 9am when you meet the battalion commander. The battalion commander will talk to families about the transition their new Soldier made over the last ten weeks. Families will be able to ask questions and meet the unit’s drill sergeants (the one’s responsible for your Soldier’s transformation) and watch demonstrations of some of the skills your Soldier acquired while at training. Following demonstrations will be the moment you have for so long waited for – seeing your Soldier.
To ensure that you get the best possible view of your Soldier you will want to make sure you sit in their respective company sections. Each section will be clearly marked for easy identification. While facing the field Alpha will be on your far left going in order- Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo and with Foxtrot being far right. The same arrangement will be used for the Graduation Day ceremony.
After spending some time with your Soldier you will be able to join them for a buffet dinner at one of the clubs on the post. You will be able to purchase tickets for dinner upon arrival at Family Day. Your Soldier will receive an ON-POST pass, meaning they can’t leave base, and will need to arrive back to their barracks by 8pm. Don’t worry there will be plenty of time during Family Day and Graduation to take all sorts of pictures.
What is Graduation day like?
Graduation will be held at 9 a.m. (Spring/Summer schedule) or 10 a.m. (Fall/Winter schedule) on Hilton Field, unless otherwise indicated. Graduation day is filled with a lot of emotions, and will be a day you and your new Soldier will remember forever. Families from all over the country will have traveled to attend graduation, so expect a big crowd, and don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to arrive.
After the graduation ceremony Soldiers will be released to their family for transport to AIT. Soldiers who will not be transported to AIT will have an OFF- POST pass and must return to the barracks by 8:00 p.m.
What do I need in order to get on base?
To get on base, all guests, 18 and older, will need to present a valid form of identification. Unless you are military personnel and have a military id you will need the following with you when you arrive at Fort Jackson for graduation:
- Drivers license
- Driver’s Proof of Insurance
- Vehicle Registration
- Motorcycle Safety Foundation Card (if arriving by motorcycle)
- Fort Jackson Family Day and Graduation Pass
How do I get a Family Day and Graduation pass?
Entrance to Fort Jackson will not be allowed for Family Day or Graduation without your pass. You can request your pass for your trip up to 90 days before your SITs Graduation date. Each vehicle will need its own pass in order to successfully get through the gates.
For each pass you will need to list the number of people that will be in the vehicle as well as their names. This will ensure that your SIT knows who is attending graduation and can approve your arrival for graduation. Don’t worry, you will receive more information about graduation day passes from your SIT through out training.
When driving to base you will need to place the pass you obtained on the dashboard of the car so the guard at the gate can see it. Be prepared to have your vehicle searched upon arrival at Fort Jackson (hint: give yourself plenty of time to get on base).
How do I get on base?
For both Family Day and Graduation day you will need to go through Gate 4. Gate 4 will be open beginning at 5am.k
You can either put Gate 4 into your navigation or follow the directions below.
Going North on I-77:
- Take Exit 13 Decker Boulevard
- Go to the stop light
- Turn right onto Percival Road
- Proceed to the stop light
- Turn right onto Boyden Arbor Road
Going South on I-77:
- Take Exit 15 Percival Road
- Turn right onto Percival Road
- Proceed to the stop light
- Turn left onto Boyden Arbor Road
Once you get through the gates there will be a blue line for you to follow in your car that will take you directly to Hilton Field where you will get to see your Solider for the first time.
Can my soldier come home after graduation?
After graduation your Soldier will be required to go onto Advanced Individual Training (AIT) where they will be trained for their specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Depending on which AIT location your Soldier is ordered to will determine what happens after graduation.
Soldiers with AIT locations EAST of the Mississippi :
If your Soldier is given authorization by the Command they can be transported to their AIT location by immediate family members (parents, spouses, siblings and grandparents). They will be required to sign in by Friday evening, they day after graduation, at their AIT location. Soldiers are given 24 hours to travel to their AIT location and will take government contracted travel if not being transported by family.
Soldiers with AIT locations WEST of the Mississippi :
All Soldiers who have an AIT location west of the Mississippi will not be able to travel with family to their next location. Soldiers will be required to take government and travel and will leave early the morning after graduation. They will be taken to the airport/train/bus terminals through government travel, and family will not be able to see them off.
Soldiers with AIT at Ft Jackson:
Soldiers who will continue their AIT at Fort Jackson will be traveling by government contract and will be transported to check in by the Drill Sergeant on Friday morning.
The feeling you get when you see your new Soldier for the first time will be more than you could ever imagine. It is truly a special day and time to enjoy and celebrate all of your Soldier’s accomplishments. Let the Sandboxx Travel Team answer any questions that you may have about traveling to Fort Jackson for Graduation, and help you plan a most memorable trip. Happy travels, and congratulations to you and your soon-to-be new Soldier!