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Fort Benning holds first in-person graduation since pandemic began

Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 4:22 PM EDT
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FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - After traditional graduations have been shut down on Fort Benning for more than a year, Friday was a first of sorts.

News Leader 9 was there for the first airborne graduation with an in-person audience on the Army installation since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Public activities were shut down military-wide in March 2020.

Friday morning, 370 soldiers graduated from their intense three-week airborne school on Fort Benning, but it’s not a full return to normal. People attending had to show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test within the last three days before they were allowed into the stadium.

Parents did not get to pin wings onto their graduate’s uniform, but they say it was still exciting to be there.

“Just watching all of them come down and come across front and just looking for his face to see ok, is he down is he down...and then all of a sudden, you see him and it was just...he lit up and you could just tell it meant so much to him that we were there. I was just ecstatic. I mean, even if you can’t get to touch them, which was extremely hard, I was sitting there thinking, How can I get to him?,” said Julie Tallen, mother of on airborne graduate.

Last week, Fort Benning also held its first public basic combat training graduation in more than a year.

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