1 / 9, Here We Come...

Beth, I have something I need to tell you...

I'm fairly certain those are the most gut-wrenching words to ever be uttered. Tonight was no exception.

My web orders posted today. I leave SOI on the 14th and check into my new unit on the 15th... of October.

I should probably rewind a little. Exactly four weeks ago, Zach told me he had received orders. For the past 15 months, Zach has been stationed at the School of Infantry (SOI East... there's also one in California) and has been working in the armory with the weapons for Marine Combat Training (MCT) & Infantry Training Battalion (ITB). In really simple terms, he accounts for all of the guns that students use during training, preps them for other students to use, and repairs them when necessary. (He does a WHOLE LOT more than that, but you get the idea.) We've been so blessed during this time, not only because he's stationed at Camp Geiger, less than two and a half hours from Duke, but also because it's a non-deployable unit, which is extremely rare. However, one by one, nearly all of the guys he originally started working with at SOI have received orders to new units, and we both knew his time was quickly approaching.

So we weren't surprised when he received orders four weeks ago. But...we were concerned when the official "web orders" had not posted to his account within 24-48 hours. (The verbal orders don't actually mean anything, apparently. Who knew?) A week passed, and we knew something was strange. Two weeks passed, and something was clearly up. Higher-ups emailed "people on the inside," fellow Marines called administrative offices... still no word. Three weeks passed, and we began to think the orders "got tanked" (were cancelled). And during the past week, I've let my guard down & essentially decided it was all a big false alarm.

Funny joke. In just a little over two weeks, Zach will leave SOI and travel all of... ten miles to Camp LeJeune next door :) We won't know anything about if or when upcoming deployments will be until after he checks in, but in the meantime, it's nice to know that he'll be in NC for the next couple of years.

Zach's favorite part about changing units...other than the fact that he simply won't be at SOI anymore? (Such a love/hate relationship... but mostly hate...) He finally has a battalion nickname! All of the battalions in the "real fleet" (aka--not SOI) have a nickname that they're known by throughout the entire Marine Corps world. Examples include: Spartans, Dragon Warriors, War Dogs, Destroyers, etc. (one of the units in Hawaii is the Lava Dogs. Too funny!) Since Zach is soon to be a proud member of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines (1/9), he will be a part of...

... The Walking Dead. Yes, my precious boy who was homeschooled his entire life and so desperately wants a mascot to call his own now belongs to the group with the grim reaper. Awesome.

A t-shirt design. Christmas presents, anyone?

In all seriousness, I am so proud of Zach and everything he has accomplished during his 21 months in the Marine Corps thus far. He works so incredibly hard and definitely deserves this. SOI will undoubtedly miss him, but 1/9 is getting the best Marine there is :) LCpl Jones, I'm excited for this new chapter in your life, and consequently, our lives. I know you're gonna do great, and I'll be right here supporting you 110%.

But next time, do you think we could try for the Lava Dogs? :)