Monday, February 17, 2014

NEOC49 Graduation

Hello there ETD readers!! Happy New Year!! Another long stint of no blog posts, but this time for a good reason. Gaffa and I got married!!! (I'll be sure to post about our special day later). But just to catch up on what's been happening in the life of WinGaz, let's start where we left off from our last post.

Back in November 2013, Gaffa finished off his officer training for the Royal Australian Navy and had his Passing Out Parade. There were actually 3 separate events on over 2 days, so I had to find 3 different outfits to wear. Me being indecisive, packed more than what I needed, just in case I changed my mind at the last minute, or had any wardrobe malfunctions...haha.

I drove down to Jervis Bay with my parents during the day to attend the first event of graduation, the Sunset Ceremony that night. It started off with some finger food and drinks, a good time to mingle and meet the fellow wags - wives and girlfriends - and the parents. When it started getting dark, we headed out onto the green sacred grass over all the scattered kangaroo poo, to get a good seat. Someone had started walking out earlier than expected and most of the guests followed, meaning we were sitting there waiting for quite a while before the marching began.

Sunset Ceremony

Finally the sun began to set, and the ceremony started. The white ensign flag was lowered and the RAN band played beautifully. Gaffa had told me earlier the exact place he was going to be standing and where the best place was to sit, so I could get a good view of him. I was able to video the whole ceremony for his parents who weren't able to be there. All of NEOC49 marched out onto the grass holding their rifles. Gaffa with a gun! OMG. Lucky they weren't real bullets. We'd been warned about the loud gun shots earlier and were even given ear plugs. As always with loud noises, I jumped when the guns were fired. The guys had been practising this all day during the lead up to the graduation. So it was awesome to see it all come together.

The next morning was the actual graduation ceremony. Where each division would parade across the grounds, academic prizes would be handed out, and important RAN and ADF people would be attending. The sun was shinning brightly, which we were told was quite rare. But they did have 2 chaplains and a Pope in the graduating class. (Totally stole that joke from the MC at the graduation.) Before the divisions marched out, we walked past the awards table and had a peek at who was going to win a prize. Gaffa had told me that his history essay was put forward for publishing, and that he had been doing well in his exams. So I was hopefully. The man arming the awards table asked us who we were with, and I told him, Bateman! He looked at his list of award winners, and smiled :) Yay, I was so happy for him.
Photo by H. Saville

Gaffa was a part of the last Flinders Division ever. They were due to change the names of the divisions for the next officer training course and NEOC49 were the last ones to be a part of the original divisional names. Gaffa was awarded the Historical Prize and his essay would be published. When each prize winner's name was called out, they gave a small bio on each person. Gaffa's dad would have been proud to get a mention in his bio. And the most funny line in his bio was that Gaffa had only been an Australian citizen for 17 days. Hehehe. Gaffa had finally become a citizen on 11th November; just in time to graduate as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy.

Gaffa marching out to receive his award. Photo by H. Saville

After the ceremony there were more nibbles, drinks and mingling. Then it was time to get ready for the graduation ball that the NEOC49's had organised themselves. Pre-drinks in the wardroom, followed by a 3 course sit down dinner, with some light entertainment in between.

I was running late to the pre drinks, so I didn't actually get any :( but then we were lead into the main hall for dinner, via a red carpet! Fancy stuff. We had been seated randomly by the main organisers, and was lucky enough to have the table right in front of the projector so we could watch the slideshow.
Graduation Ball

The food was pretty good, but they didn't have gluten free options for poor Gaffa. It was an alternate drop, so at least we got to try each other's meals - as we always do by swapping half way. They had also organised a photo booth for the night. When I found out I was so excited, as I wanted one for our wedding, but it was a bit too expensive. Gaffa and I had a great time posing in the booth with all the props. Apparently the most number of people they could fit in the booth was 8, but I don't see how they did that.... we could hardly fit 3-4 people in there.

One of Garry's good friends had spent a long time compiling all the photos and videos he had taken throughout the course, into a memorable video for the NEOC49 graduates to see. It was a great ending to a long 4 months of hard work and dedication from all the graduates. The other entertainment for the night was speeches by one member of each division, and the NEOCtaves singing. Gaffa was originally apart of the NEOCtaves, but was "kicked out", or actually "retired" because he didn't have time to attend rehearsals... or maybe his voice wasn't up to scratch....

The last Flinders Division from NEOC49

Free drinks were flowing all night, and the dance floor started up. I think Gaffa had something to do with that, because when I came back from the toilet he was out busting a move on the dance floor. We danced the night away with the NEOC49 graduates and their guests, then finally decided to end the night when glasses were being dropped on the dance floor.

The next morning was home time for all the newly graduated officers. Their rooms had to be emptied and clean before they could leave. Gaffa had our whole car full of his stuff that he had accumulated over 4 months. And then off we drove back home.

Gaffa's empty room

It was great to finally have Gaffa back home. He had 2 months of holidays to look forward to now. It took a few days to unpack and put away all his stuff. We even had to clear our second bedroom for him to store all his Navy uniforms!!

Until next time, (hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later!)


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