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March 30th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

A Soldier's Story: Graduation day

Editor's Note: From the home front to the front lines, we're following one recruit's journey in our American Morning original series "A Soldier's Story." Today, in part seven, Jason Carroll goes behind-the-scenes with Will as he graduates, but his battle buddy is nowhere to be found. Tomorrow, it's back to basic training with a brand new recruit. Her name is Latricia Rose and we're following this wife and mom as she starts her new life in uniform.

Filed under: A Soldier's Story • Military
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Moses Lake, WA Community

    Young Man Michael Davis of Connell, WA . We are all sooooooo proud of you. Keep up the good work.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  2. Emily

    I want to be a US Army Soldier. HOOAH! This series was awesome.. I am so happy CNN covered the transformation form civilian to soldier.

    April 5, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Sean

    May God bless you Mr. and Mrs. McLain. Your son, seems to me, was a fine young man before joining the Army and now he is a stronger, more confident United States Army Combat Engineer. I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, simular in size to Rosamond. And I know that playing sports, a good community and great parents influence a young persons mindset. Will has displayed what a great job you guys did in raising him. Also, as I was an Infantryman in the Army I witnessed the many, many different things Engineers did to keep an Army on the move. Including clearing roads, landing zones, minefields and building bridges in a big hurry. These men and women are very brave since sometimes they may have to defend themselves and fight while doing these tasks. I'm not trying to be upsetting Mrs. McLain and I apologize if my statements were, I just wanted to point out to other folks, particulary the nay sayers, that Will did a great job. I'm proud to know as I'm sure you are of your son, that there is still a young generation willing to serve and sacrifice for our beloved country. Will is going to be an asset to the Army team and his country. Thank you for your familys sacrafice, take care and God bless. Sean

    April 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  4. Pvt William McLain

    Thank you to all that have supported me through this. I am trully grateful to read those words of encouragement. To those that dislike or disapprove of these videos, I am doing what i want to do to set up a good life and to serve a country that I am trully proud to live in. Its really an honor to be followed by CNN and to be able to show the parents and the people that care what i went through. If you don't like it, please don't go disrespecting it or me. Just don't watch it or just don't go posting things then. It really helps my family to see what I have been doing. And about my parents not going to my graduation? I asked them not to come because I thought it was a waste of money to fly across the US and then have to fly back the next day with me. It wasn't a finiancial decision... Just one where I thought about the situation. I had Hometown Recruiting and i saw my parents that night. So yea, it would have been great to have them there, but I am a grown adualt now. They don't have to be there every second of the day to show me how proud they are. I know they are and thats what matters. So again thank you for the support and i hope I clarified on the graduation issue. God Bless the Armed Forces (no matter what branch because we all serve together) and I the videos to come continue to help show the people out there that care what I experience.
    Pvt. William McLain Jr.

    April 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  5. Lori McLain

    As William's mother, I can say the my words were misconstruded. When I said that I wished that we had been there for William's Graduation, I was not referring to the fact that we needed funds to make the trip but in fact I said that Since William was coming home the next day, it would have made more sense to simply wait for him and to help him than to get flights for all four of us at home for a few hours and then fly back home when we could have helped William instead.
    Thank you for all your words of wisdom, prayers and your antidotes.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  6. Sean

    What difference does it make when a young person decides to enlist in any branch. The enemy will try to kill you no matter where you went to boot, just like a shark isn't mad at you when it eats you. Enough with the negative, any time your getting shot at on a regular basis thats war. And when people volunteer or were drafted and stand up scared to death and fight back thats courage. God bless the United States and may he grant comfort for ALL of our troops until we hunt down and kill everyone of the murderous cowards that killed 4,000 of our countrymen on September 11, 2001. Hang tough guys and gals in the service most of us are very grateful and appreciative of your service..Keep the faith.

    March 31, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
  7. Sean

    Whats with all the negative attacks and judgements on these young men and women who CHOOSE

    March 31, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  8. Brittney Cones

    Will you are an awesome person! It was such a joy hanging out with you on family! Can't wait to see you in Georgia.
    Will and my husband were both at leonardwood and got stationed at the same duty station. I really wish CNN would have flown his parents out for this, it was truly an amazing experience to see all these men graduate! Keep your head up. Love you guys!!!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  9. Erica

    Congrats I graduated from basic and AIT there at fort lost in the woods also and it is a place that I too don't wish to to will's battle buddy bet he won't be anymore pool....that's why the call privates dumb.....

    March 31, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  10. rivera

    I watched your tv crew tape alot of footage at this graduation. Is there a uncut version that can be obtained. Some other families would love to see it or buy it. My son was and will be stationed with Will and he says that camera followed them all the way through. Please respond. It was a great series. Thanks, it gave us insight on what our solidier went through. I was disapointed to find out CNN did not get Will's parents to the graduation. It would have added to the series. I know we waited in anticipation in line and with anixious emotion to see our solider and to watch them graduate. A day to remember.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  11. louise

    He is not her baby daddy that's her husband, its not welfare that's a don't know her or him so how are you to say...Latricia is not on welfare now she does fine without it and was thinking of the army before she had a child or was married. No one made the decision for her she did on her on, and women shouldn't allow a man to work for them or go to school for them for that matter a woman should always have her own and what's pathetic is that u are so judgemental of a family you don't know...shaking my head at you

    March 31, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  12. Sonia

    Good series, Jason. Your reporting is always top-notch. However, please, please, please don't refer to a woman as a "girl" as you did today with the wife and mother who is preparing for the Army. She is a woman, not a girl. Her daughter is a girl.

    Thank you.

    March 31, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  13. Karen

    I'm shocked that CNN didn't pay for Will's parents to attend his graduation. I went through basic training (two years ago at Fort Leonard Wood). Throughout basic training, I had moments everyday, where I was shocked and proud of what I accomplished–mentally, physically, and emotionally. But, my proudest moment of the entire experience, was when my parents were there to see what I accomplished, and congratulated me.

    I understand that CNN is trying to capture the entire story: A young man joins the Army to make a better life for himself and serve his country, and his parents are unable to afford the trip to his graduation. The story is compelling, and it happens all the time. CNN captured the story well. But, CNN had an opportunity to help, and they passed that opportunity up. Kind of saddening.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  14. mike

    So how is this news? Everyday someone goes into BCT, I went in back in 86, my brothers went in 07, still don't see how this is news..

    March 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  15. 03DumbDumb

    I got nothing bad to say about the Army besides the fact that going home for Christmas in the middle of boot camp is ridiculous. I don't see soldiers who have already EARNED their strips and are overseas going home for the holidays. Why allow someone who hasn't accomplished anything that luxury? I've heard that its to allow the Drill Sgt's time with their families during the holidays. If your trying to shape a civilian into a soldier, you don't give them 2 weeks to go back to civilian life in the middle of that training, it breaks the cycle. Shows how undisciplined the Army has become.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm |

    Thanks to CNN for this post. I may not able to go for my son"s graduation in LW . So I got a chance to see how it is from this video. Also thanks for all the other important news around the world which I read every day. Blessings to all the CNN reporters and the soldiers at LW and every where they serve the world in the name of our lord !! Jesus Christ!!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  17. Nessa

    I think his mother should have been able to be there. They could haveasked for donations or something. I would have helped out, and I'm a single mother of 4. Shame on CNN to follow this story and not go thta extra step.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  18. lisa

    I also wish that CNN would have sent Will's parents to FLW. No parent or spouse should have to miss this wonderful ceremony. Go Army!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  19. Sean

    One more comment, If I may..I am currently an Air Force civilian jet engine mechanic. Our mission is to keep these engines overhauled and good to go for fighter jets that will support young men and women in any branch that may need them. I enlisted in the Army at 17, and I chose 11B as my MOS. I respect Marines for there sacrafice in combat and blood shed to help keep us free. I also feel the same way toward sailors and airmen. Each branch has a significant role that when combined together create the finest, a$$ kicking military in the world. I served at Fort Benning GA, in the early 80's. I can confidently say the summer of 83' was the longest, toughest part of my life, we trained from 04:30 till19:00 daily. Although I did not go airborne, I saw Marines, Sailors and Airmen as well as Rangers all going through jump training. I think we should all feel very gratefull that we have young people willing to serve in any branch, for they are all special. I realize Marine Corps Boot is very tough, and all Marines go through the same initial training. The Army basic may vary slightly depending on one's MOS. But I am sure of one thing, Army Infantry training is second to none. And I think all of us vets no matter what branch we joined, should stand by these young people and encourage them, for they are the tip of the spear now and we should all be proud. May God bless all Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen past, present and future...

    March 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  20. Sean

    Congrats Will, you made it. You seem to be a fine young man and I'm sure you'll be a great soldier. Thanks again for your service and good luck in the future...

    March 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  21. LT

    Very good video. Good job CNN.

    March 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  22. Charles Rogers

    I have enjoyed Jason Carroll's story following Will McCain, in A Soldier's Story. I thought how sad and unfortunate for his parents not to be able to share in his proud moment. I believe strongly CNN should have paid their way so they too could have witnessed his graduation. Afterall, they so kindly allowed CNN to come into their lives so they(CNN) could present their son's journey.

    March 30, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  23. sandra

    i also was at the graduation ceremony at fort leonardwood and i noticed will's parents were not there. it was such an honor for me to watch my son graduate. why couldn't cnn have paid for will's parents to be there. my heart goes out to his mother.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |