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  • Army Graduation Photos


    ft leonard wood leonardwood army base entrance sign photo Leanne Wildermuth
    The drive was not as long as I thought it would be, about 6 hours from my house to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The scenery? UN-believable. What a beautiful time of year for that road trip! Illinois was boring until we got to Peoria, then boring again until we hit the St. Louis area. Thankfully, I had my mom in the car with me so I had plenty of entertainment! ha!!

    We arrived Wednesday, late afternoon, and checked in to our hotels. I had chosen a dive, based on a completely misrepresented photo online – so reservationist beware. It cost me some bucks to cancel, and I did some begging for a room at a nicer place. I even got the military discount, without having my ID card. Whew! Thank God for small favors!

    Much of my family made the trip, as well. Mark’s leave was canceled so he wasn’t able to come, but my Dad and his wife, my Mom, my sister and her family — and my brother all drove down to Missouri to see Brandi graduate from basic training. We met at a diner for dinner and yacked it up for a bit before heading back to get some sleep. We were up at Zero-Dark-Thirty (6AM, military style) to get together and yack more over coffee before heading to the base to wander around before the Graduation Ceremony.

    dad in his side view mirror photo Leanne Wildermuth
    Arriving on base, I had my camera in my lap and took as many photos as I could. I even have two or three videos of half-cadences, if I get to converting them to a normal media format I’ll post those as well. A cadence, for anyone who doesn’t know, are the songs that our men and women in uniform march to. Some are hilarious, some are sweet, most are snarky. I have a couple of them stuck in my head. I just don’t have the rhythm to march to them!

    Funny and scary thing happened, when pulling through the gate a MP spotted our cameras. She asked if we took any photos of the gate area. I said no — I took a photo of my dad in his rear view, and I offered to show it to her. (See? I’m a total attention whore. LOOK AT MY PHOTOS! I don’t care if I’m in trouble, just LOOK!) She then poked her head in and asked Catybug the same question. She was about terrified that they were going to confiscate her camera! “Um, no, *big eyes* just the welcome above the gate, is that okay? Should I delete it? *terrified* Here I’ll show you…” And the MP told her that was alright. Phew! Ahem. Let’s get there before we end up in the brig, alright? Dang.

    brother Chris photo Leanne Wildermuth
    This is my big brother. I know. You didn’t even know I HAD a big brother. He’s like an invisible brother. Now you see him, now you don’t for five years. You know those kind? He’s magical, but I still love him. He looks a little “Top Gun” in this photo so I had to share. He’ll probably hunt me down or hack into my computer to get it off my system. He’s smart like that.

    We parked and had a lot of time to kill, so we took a little walk around the base. It was FREEZING! I borrowed my dad’s gargantuan sweatshirt and gave my coat to Catybug. Chickeymonkey, the smart one, came prepared. She also came with strep throat, and antibiotics – but that’s another story.

    girls in front of a tank Fort Leonard Wood Missouri photo Leanne Wildermuth
    Here are the girls in front of a tank, doesn’t Catybug look great in my new coat?

    Leanne and Mom in front of Howitzer Fort Leonard Wood Army Base photo Leanne Wildermuth

    Me and my momma. Awww.

    Leanne and girls in front of Howitzer Fort Leonard Wood Army Base photo Leanne Wildermuth

    Me and my girls. Double Awwww.

    Leanne and Mom in front of Howitzer Fort Leonard Wood Army Base photo Leanne Wildermuth

    Me and my Dad. Gasp. SERIOUSLY. That’s my dad. I think I may laminate this one.

    Dad and Caitlin walking Fort Leonard Wood photo Leanne Wildermuth

    Catybug and my Dad walking back up to go to the Ceremony. Sweet.

    Caitlin in front of a tank Fort Leonard Wood photo Leanne Wildermuth

    Catybug in front of the tank. She was seriously digging the tank.

    Groundhog Fort Leonard Wood photo Leanne Wildermuth

    No group of photos on my blog would be the same without wildlife, eh?

    Army Basic Training Graduation Platoon Brandi Belrichard Fort Leonard Wood Company F 1st Battalion photo Leanne Wildermuth

    During the ceremony, she had to bite down on the inside of her cheek really hard to stop from smiling once she saw us. She was in serious pain, and she looked MAD. She really isn’t ticked off. Or maybe she was, thinking “get the he** away from me with that camera before I bust a giggle”. She would never admit that, though. I wonder how long it will take for the inside of her cheek to heal?

    The Ceremony rocked. I cried, and passed out Kleenex because everyone else was crying too. Dang. The girls were totally captivated by the whole thing, which is why I wanted them to see it. There’s a certain pride and love of Country that wells up from deep inside when you see over a hundred people in one place willing to give their lives for any one of us. Having grown up Military style myself and having been married to the Military for 20 years, this is the kind of experience you want your kids to feel for themselves.

    Once the ceremony was over, we went to pick up my sis and check her out for the afternoon. When we finally got to her, Mom had first dibs.

    Army Basic Training Graduation Platoon Private Brandi Belrichard Fort Leonard Wood Company F 1st Battalion photo Leanne Wildermuth
    Proud Momma.

    Army Basic Training Graduation Platoon Private Brandi Belrichard Fort Leonard Wood Company F 1st Battalion photo Leanne Wildermuth

    Congratulations, Private Belrichard. You look pretty dang spiffy!

    Belrichard Family Fort Leonard Wood Missouri photo Leanne Wildermuth

    Family photo at the hotel, before a late lunch.
    (Yes, I brought my tripod. No one is missing! Yay!)

    Caitlin kissing a wall painting steakhouse photo trickery Leanne Wildermuth

    We went to a steakhouse for lunch. The outback was painted all over the walls.
    I couldn’t help myself, and Catybug was a good sport!!

    We hung out with my sis for the afternoon, not doing much – well, okay, we went to WalMart. We just hung out and yacked and shared pics and stuff. Brandi had to report back to base by 9PM so we returned to base early and she showed us around some places where she trained. It was very cool.

    We said our goodbye’s Thursday evening. She’s starting AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) now and has 12 more weeks to go. I have to say, I am so proud of her. There are a certain percentage of every group of people that enter Basic Training that fall out because they are just not meant for it. It’s not easy, and you need to have a special kind of endurance to get through it. I am proud to be able to say that she’s got what it takes!

    My mom, sister and niece saw us off yesterday morning. We had breakfast and chatted before heading home, and I got one more pic of me and my fam before we hit the road.

    Leanne Tommi Mom and girls Fort Leonard Wood Missouri photo Leanne Wildermuth
    Me, Tommi, Rayne (my niece), Mom, Catybug & Chickeymonkey.

    Caitlin by a rock wall Fort Leonard Wood Missouri

    We drove through St. Louis on the way home so the girls could see the Arch. The traffic made me crazy so we didn’t stop, but I-44 goes right past it so we did get a good view. We also stopped just outside of Fort Leonard Wood to get a pic of Catybug by a rock wall. It didn’t look that big when we were driving past it – but dang! It certainly dwarfs her doesn’t it?

    It was a great trip, a beautiful trip, a proud trip. And I’m glad to be home.


    pam said,

    Very cool photos! What an awesome time you guys must have had… I was crying by the end of the post…

    Congratulations to your sister and thank you and your entire family for your service! It’s always appreciated, never forgotten.


    p.s. You have a brother! LOL!

    11.1.2008 @ 9:26 am
    Leanne said,

    {{Pam}} I forgot to pass out Kleenex to you guys, too. Yeah, if you know the military life, you know those tears. My eyes have welled up a few times already this morning just reading through it again!!

    Brandi will be checking in to see these pics, so she will see your comment, too. Thank you for that.

    YES! I have a BROTHER! He’s a secret brother. Don’t tell anybody.

    11.1.2008 @ 9:45 am
    Renee said,

    I’ve gotta know what kind of critter that is in your Wildlife pix!

    Congrats to your Sister. We’re all so proud of her.

    I posted the only picture we have from DH’s promotion…seems everyone had camera trouble that day. :(

    yesterday my neighbor was sorting out his gear…seems after just getting back they’re calling him up again. sigh.

    11.1.2008 @ 9:46 am
    Laura said,

    Wow, this post made me a little teary. What a beautiful story, and what a great family pic! Your mom could pass for your sister! I loved the one of Katy and the deer, too. lol… the things we think of with a camera in hand.

    Leanne, congrats to your sister, in a big way. My neice just joined the Navy, and I’m so proud of her. She starts basic training in January; in Chicago, where that Florida girl is gonna freeze over. lol.
    Thank you to your family and your hub and sister for their service! I am one civilian who never takes it for granted!

    11.1.2008 @ 12:01 pm
    Mom W said,




    11.1.2008 @ 1:30 pm
    Kimberly said,

    Congratulations to your sister! What a proud moment & beautiful post!

    11.1.2008 @ 1:50 pm
    phoenix said,

    *sniff* Should have put up a kleenex warning. Thank your sister for me and for that matter all of your folks that have and are currently serving. Hugsssssssss :grouphug:

    11.1.2008 @ 5:12 pm
    Mom said,

    Thank you Leanne! I can’t talk now, I need some kleenex too..
    Love you!

    11.2.2008 @ 6:40 am
    Geekwif said,

    Great photos. You must be so very proud of her.

    I once watched a friend wait for her husband while he went through basic. He’s no wimp but based on the few short phone calls he was allowed to make to her she was convinced they were killing him. You’re right, that is some tough training. Your sister must be a remarkable person.

    11.2.2008 @ 8:23 am
    brandi said,

    hey sis thanks for commin down it was great to see you all.thanks for the comments all and take care love you .. :grouphug: :thanku:

    11.2.2008 @ 10:26 am
    Paige said,

    Congrats to Brandi – and thank you for serving our country! You look fantastic, graduate. You ALL look great in the photos and yes, I was teary eyed reading your post too, Leanne. sniffe sniffle….

    I love all the photos, seeing your mom, sisters, bro and dad with all the kids. My favorite is the one with all of you together. :o) Ok…I need to get some more kleenex.

    11.2.2008 @ 2:43 pm
    June said,

    Great pics…looks like a wonderful day…congratulations again!

    11.2.2008 @ 7:28 pm
    Eric Alford said,

    I was online and stumbled across this website. I have known Brandi since we were in AMS. oddly enough I’ve been trying to get in touch with her, but couldn’t because of this or that. Brandi congratulations and if your reading this I’d love to talk to you again, it’s been a while. My e-mail is (removed for privacy), please write me. Once again I want to say congrats on taking this big step in your life, I always knew you were meant for big things, good luck with this great accomplishment.
    Eric Alford

    11.2.2008 @ 9:22 pm
    YellowRose said,

    What fantastic photos! You have a beautiful family! Congratulations to your sister, what an achievement! :clapping:

    11.2.2008 @ 11:36 pm
    carmen said,

    I love the pictures! You and your dad, your dad walking with your daughter, your family pic. You’re lucky to have gotten such great photos! My family pics always have at least one of us with a squint, or talking, etc. :)

    Congrats to your sister. Tell her thanks from me for doing what she’s doing, because I know I couldn’t. :)

    11.3.2008 @ 11:26 am
    Dad said,

    Thank you for the Great pictures ! It was really nice spending some time with YOU and ALL my girls and shhh !! even your secret brother. Words can’t explain how proud I am of ALL of you ! Dad

    11.3.2008 @ 9:51 pm
    Grandma B said,

    Great pictures Leanne, Brandi looks really good. I’m so proud of
    her. Wish I could of been there. The picture of the whole family
    is great I love it. Tell the girls hi.

    Love you !
    Grandma B

    11.4.2008 @ 12:12 am
    Ed and Judy Hunt said,

    Thanks for the pictures. It is good seeing everyone again having a great time together. We are both proud of Brandi and wish her all the luck in the world.

    Ed and Judy

    11.4.2008 @ 11:37 am
    KING said,

    Y’all look great in these pix!!! I’m also very proud of Brandi. She’s gonna do very well!!!! I hope everyone is well. KING.

    11.4.2008 @ 11:47 am
    Donny B. said,

    Hi Leanne,

    Your dad told me to check out the pics but i had problems finding the site. Grandma get here and the pics are great.

    Wow you all grew up so fast . Its been a long time.

    Brandi looks great in her uniform. And Im so proud of you all I never really had or should I say took the time to keep in touch. I hope you all are doing well.

    Love ya,

    Uncle Donny

    11.9.2008 @ 10:39 pm
    Uncle Tom said,

    Glad I finally took the time to link up. Your efforts in putting this piece together, Leanne, are most appreciated and I’m so glad you and the other family members were able to go. A big day for Brandi made much bigger by the obvious love and caring of those closest to her. I’ll visit your site more’s great!!

    Much love, Uncle Tom.

    11.12.2008 @ 8:37 am
    Leanne said,

    Uncle Tom!! I am SO happy to see you! Glad you finally took the plunge and clicked on that link, too. Please, do come back often – I would be tickled to know my favorite Uncle is checking in on me!!

    Huge hugs!!

    11.12.2008 @ 8:44 am
    Da Goddess said,

    Congrats to your sister!

    And wow! Your parents are so young!

    I won’t ask if your brother is single. I’m being good today.

    11.28.2008 @ 7:26 pm
    Marie Stolen said,


    I love your photos. Thank You !
    My son just graduated from Ft. Leonard Wood
    May 21ST.
    It was nice to see some of the photos on the base because we did not get any.
    It was also nice to see your family enjoying graduation day as well.
    Thanks again,
    A military Mom, :love:

    6.3.2009 @ 6:28 pm

    Sorry, comments are now closed.

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