Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment participate in a Basic Combat Training graduation ceremony April 2 at Fort Jackson's Hilton Field. The installation canceled in-person graduation activities in March 2020, but is resuming limited in-person graduations April 22 as part of a pilot program allowing a limited number of Family members to attend. (Photo by Tori Evans)
By Robert Timmons Fort Jackson Public Affairs
Fort Jackson will resume in-person graduations April 22 as part of a pilot program where up to 500 Family members are allowed to attend the ceremony.
“It is imperative we get this right,” said Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson commander. “We are setting the stage for all training installations in the Army. We are starting small and if we can do a couple of limited capacity graduations safely, then we will look at increasing the number of attendees.”
“We have to start small, so we can go big,” he said.
Fort Jackson will continue to live stream graduations on its Facebook page.
“For some of you this will make you very happy,” he said. “For some of you this will make you very sad, because we are going to have to do it in a limited capacity.”
The graduating unit will invite all attendees electronically.
“It is going to be invite only and it’s going to be a process,” said Fort Jackson spokesperson Leslie Ann Sully, “but we want to do this right so we can replicate it and make it larger as we go.”
All invited Family members and guests must be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to enter the installation. Graduating units will check COVID vaccination cards at Gate 4 and again at Hilton Field. Children under the age of 16 are not required to be vaccinated.
Vaccinating trainees “is not on the docket right now,” Sully said. “This is another reason for people to understand that this has to be a very deliberate process. Trainees will not be vaccinated and that’s why we are requiring to you be.”
Families, who attend the graduation, will meet their Soldiers on the field immediately after the ceremony, and spend up to several hours with them. Soldiers will not be able to leave the area. Family members will not able to meet their Soldiers anywhere else on the installation.
Invitees will not be allowed into the area before 7 a.m. Recreational vehicles are not allowed at the venue and cookouts are prohibited as well. Guests at Hilton Field may not bring pets unless it is a service-related animal. On-site food vendors will be available.
All attendees will go be screened and temperatures taken, before entry into the seating areas; face coverings must be worn at all times; and social distancing in the stands will be enforced.
Visitors are encouraged not to bring any type of bag inside Hilton Field. However, the following outlines bags that are permitted: One bag that is clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and does not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″. If there is a logo, the logo cannot be larger than 4.5″ x 3.4″.
Security personnel will inspect bags before visitors will be allowed into the venue. Invitees will be allowed return to the vehicles to get items left behind, however if they leave Hilton Field they will not be allowed to return.
Graduating units will provide family members a link to an electronic registration process. Invitees should include all people in their party, by name, when registering. Graduation ceremonies will take place rain or shine, unless there are heavy winds and lightning strikes in the area.
Invitees should wait until their registration is verified before making travel arrangements and securing lodging.
Visitors may inquire about vacancies on Fort Jackson by calling (803) 782-9802 for IHG or (803) 751-5812 for Victory Travel.
Invitees must print their registration confirmation and bring it with them to the gate. They are asked to not lose or misplace the confirmation because they will be prevented from entering the installation and graduation. Security personnel will check the registration three times: at the gate; when entering Hilton Field; and at the security checkpoint near the bleachers.
To enter Fort Jackson visitors will need their confirmation, government-issued ID card, and if driving, a valid state-issued driver’s license, copy of vehicle registration and proof of insurance. There are only three licensed taxi services authorized to operate on Fort Jackson: Checker Yellow Taxi Co. (803) 799-3311, Blue Ribbon Taxi Co. (803) 754-8163, and Capitol City Taxi Co. (803) 794-2240. Ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber are not allowed.
Any graduation updates will announced on the post’s social media pages and the Digital Garrison application.
“Download the app today,” said Pat Jones, Fort Jackson public affairs officer. “It will help you as you navigate Fort Jackson and will provide immediate notifications of changes to events such as the graduation. When you download the app make sure to register it as Fort Jackson.”
The application may be downloaded in the Google Play Store for Android devices, and in the Apple App Store for IOS devices.
All graduation traffic must enter through Gate 4 on Boyden Arbor Road near the intersection with Percival Road.
Directions to Gate 4:
Drivers travelling southbound on Interstate 77 Take exit 15 toward Fort Jackson. Turn right onto Percival Road. Turn left at the first traffic light. This is Boyden Arbor. Gate 4 is ahead on the right.