After 10 grueling weeks of Basic Training soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood graduate from Basic and become full-fledged soldiers of the United States Military. Most commonly graduations at Fort Jackson are held on Thursdays, however, nothing in the army is set in stone, be sure to stay in contact with your soldier’s battalion regarding the exact dates of graduation ceremonies.
Family Day at Fort Jackson
The day before graduation ceremonies at Fort Jackson is generally set aside for family day. Family Day activities on base kick off at Hilton Field at 0900 (9am). During this time the battalion commander will meet with the soldiers families and friends and discuss the training and experiences that your soldier has just undergone.
Family Day Buffet
A buffet dinner will also be served on post, families and soldiers can purchase tickets to this event during family day activities, however, to prepare for the event an estimated head count is needed, so be sure to let your soldier know if you’ll be attending and how many people total will be in your party.
Graduation Day at Fort Jackson
Graduation begins at 9.am during the Spring and Summer and at 10 a.m. during winter and fall and is generally also held at Hilton Field. Just in case your soldier’s unit is the exception to this rule, or in case of last minute changes, keep an eye on your soldier’s unit page for details and changes.
In the case of bad weather, graduation ceremonies at Ft. Jackson are held at Solomon Center. In the case of multiple ceremonies, both the time, date, and schedule are subject change.
Getting to Hilton Field for Ft. Jackson Graduation
To get to Hilton Field at Fort Jackson, follow the freeway exit signs that say “Ft. Jackson Graduation” to get the right gate where you’ll receive instructions, and a map of the base. From the gate, you will follow the blue line painted on the road itself to find Hilton Field.
Be sure you have govt-issued photo ID for everyone in the car age 16 & up, as well as your car registration & proof of insurance (or rental car documents if it’s a rental).
Be sure to Arrive Early!
Make sure you arrive at Hilton Field as early as possible. It will be busy! The bleachers will be marked with the letters of the each company so you can sit in the section assigned to your soldier’s unit. (This is where you’ll get the best view of him/her.)
Getting to Fort Jackson
There are two nearby airports, Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina which is about a half hour away from the base, and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, and about an hour and a half away from the base. Though the closest airport (CAE) is generally the most desirable, there can be some advantages to flying from the further airport (CLT).
If you’re flying on a high traffic day, when many other parents are also arriving for graduation ceremonies for example, you might find more seats available in Charlotte arriving at CLT. Charlotte Douglas International is a major international airport so there are many more flights arriving there on any given day than there are at airports that aren’t hubs.