From San Diego to Fort Jackson for canceled graduation - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

From San Diego to Fort Jackson for canceled graduation

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Bonilla's son pins her Blue Star Mother pin on her coat (Source: Blue Star Mothers) Bonilla's son pins her Blue Star Mother pin on her coat (Source: Blue Star Mothers)
Bonilla's son pins her Blue Star Mother pin on her coat (Source: Blue Star Mothers) Bonilla's son pins her Blue Star Mother pin on her coat (Source: Blue Star Mothers)
Bonilla's son pins her Blue Star Mother pin on her coat (Source: Blue Star Mothers) Bonilla's son pins her Blue Star Mother pin on her coat (Source: Blue Star Mothers)
Source: Blue Star Mothers Source: Blue Star Mothers
FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) -

Liz Bonilla was looking forward to coming to Fort Jackson for her son's graduation from basic training Thursday.  But a winter ice storm forced Fort Jackson commanders to cancel graduation.

Of all the friends and family members who came to Columbia for graduation this week, Bonilla's venture probably was the most trying.  She lives in San Diego.  And she is vision-impaired.

"It was disappointing not to see him in his dress blues and see him walk," Bonilla said of her 18-year-old son, Alex. "But I couldn't me more proud and I'm thankful I was here to be a part of it."

Bonilla's journey started Monday evening with a car ride from San Diego to Los Angeles, where she and her 13-year-old son caught a flight to New York. Once in the Big Apple, the pair had a two-hour layover before catching a flight to Charleston.  There, a Blue Star Mother picked them up and drove them to a hotel at Fort Jackson, arriving late Tuesday morning.

Then a winter storm dumped snow and ice on the region for two days, forcing officials at Fort Jackson to cancel the Thursday graduation ceremony.

"I am not a snow person," Bonilla said.  She's lived her entire life in southern California. "I'm not liking it."

But Bonilla and her sons made the best of it. Columbia Blue Star Mothers took Bonilla to the grocery store to pick up food and supplies.

"I'm so grateful for them," she said. "They helped us get everything we needed. I'm so thankful I got linked to Blue Star Mothers in South Carolina.  The hospitality has been better than I ever expected. I'm grateful for their outreach. "

Despite missing out on her son's big moment, Bonilla said the effort to make the trip was worth it. They were able to spend time together before he goes to Virginia for Airborne training.

"I couldn't be more proud and I'm thankful I was here to be a part of it," she said from her hotel room. "I'm very proud of him. Definitely you could see he's getting to be the man I always wanted him to be and always knew he could be. It was beautiful just to be here."

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