After a VERY long road trip, I am pleased to report that Ryan successfully graduated from Texas CAP Encampment! I think I was a nervous as he was driving up! When we got there the cadets were already lined up in their flight groups and preparing for the ceremony.
We found our way to the bleachers and tried to spot Ryan in the sea of identically dressed cadets. We found Ryan's flight easily but didn't actually spot him until he processed right in front of us:
Let me tell you he was walking tall and looking sharp! He didn't look like the scared little boy who had left our home a week ago. He was tall, proud, and confident, he was a man now! My heart absolutely swelled with joy and pride...so did my eyes with tears.
After the ceremony, we walked across the field for a big bear hug. Ryan couldn't wait to tell us everything but first he wanted us to meet his TAC Officer:
She is a SAINT in my eyes! She, along with senior members of Ryan's flight, were able to help Ryan through his rough patch and got him back on track. They didn't yell or belittle him. They were compassionate and caring and took great care of my son when we couldn't be there to help him. We are forever grateful for their leadership!
Ryan and his flight were quickly discharged and we loaded up the van for the long trip home. The first thing Ryan wanted was REAL FOOD! So we stopped in Longview for his favorite - mexican food.
We were just about thirty minutes from the place where Doug grew up, so we made the detour to Marshall for a quick trip down memory lane. We visited the beautiful church where Doug was baptized. We saw his grandmother's home and the home he grew up in. We took a tour of the town square and saw where his grandfather used to work. Then we drove into this place:
It was a little shack no bigger than our living room and Doug claimed it had the best BBQ sandwich on earth! Well, we got two pounds of "brown pig" to go and headed home.
We weren't five minutes out of Marshall when this happened:
...and he stayed that way the entire trip home!