PCSgrades, in partnership with Shyft, The Home Depot, Radisson Hotels Americas, and US Logistics, is excited to announce the 4th place winner of their 2021 PCS Story Contest.

During the month of August, military and veteran families were invited to share their most memorable PCS story. Entrants had the chance to win a fully-funded PCS move from Shyft, a major gift card from The Home Depot, or 300,000 Radisson Rewards Americas Points. After receiving hundreds of entries in the contest, a panel of judges evaluated the stories based on entertainment, inspirational, and emotional value.

We hoped to hear real PCS stories from real military families, and we certainly did! There were humorous stories of things that went wrong during moves, frustrating stories of families caught in the middle of changing orders, and downright spooky stories of getting lost in the middle of nowhere. We will be sharing the winning stories here on our blog over the next few weeks.

The 4th Place Prize is awarded to Manda McVey and her family! They will receive $1,000 in gift cards from The Home Depot, plus 300,000 Radisson Rewards Americas Points to use during a future hotel stay. Their PCS story from the summer of 2021 includes a 3-week adventure across the country and a missing squishmallow stuffed animal.

4th Place PCS Story

“Initially we were informed that our belongings would be packed on a Thursday and Friday and not collected until the following Tuesday. We managed to get that sorted out, but then they told us it would be at least 3 weeks before our HHG could be delivered from JBLM, WA to Fort Polk, LA. So, we decided ADVENTURE TIME! We journey through Oregon by way of the Rugged Country Lodge, (and man was it rugged), Idaho (I highly recommend Holiday Inn rooms after this), and Utah (where we stayed in a penthouse suite that was to die for) to Las Vegas where we stayed in a Princess Castle, (aka the Excalibur) according to our 5-year-old daughter. We met up with some friends from Washington that had recently relocated to Henderson, NV.

Unbeknownst to us, by this time, our daughter had lost her favorite pillow that was a gift from her first babysitter/nanny/big sister. More on this later.

Next, we headed to Williams, Arizona where we met up with my in-laws. This was such a blessing. Our daughter and I had never met my father-in-law (her grandpa) or grandmother-in-law (her great-grandma) in person. The first night, we found a converted train car motel room to stay in! Unfortunately, grandma fell down and fractured her kneecap on the way to the train the next morning, so they didn’t get to go with us, but we rode the observation deck of the train into the Grand Canyon. Hubs and I grew up in Phoenix and neither of us had ever been before. We rode first class back and proceeded to our glamping RV. It was magical.

At this point the kiddo has now lost her favorite toy from her second babysitter/nanny/big sister and we still haven’t noticed these things are gone. Grandma is recovering well, by the way.

On to ROSWELL!!! Cheesy motels, UFOs and alien paraphernalia everywhere. It was great, we all loved it. At this point, we have noticed the toy is gone. I hopped on Amazon and ordered a new one to be waiting at the new house in case we weren’t able to recover it. This is a llamacorn Squishmallow named Lucy May. It was not easy to find the right edition. I contacted EVERY hotel we stayed at and they found nothing.

Time to get to Texas to see my bonus kid. Geez, he is so grown up: a sweet, wonderful, loving guy. We are lucky he is ours. Army buddy reunions and tributes at the Veterans Cemetery were had. We packed up and headed on to Louisiana, staying at Toledo Bend for a couple of days on the way. During this transit time, we were informed that our belongings could be delivered three days early… but only if we could be at the house at 0800. Problem was, we couldn’t get keys until 0900 on the same day. It was Friday evening, too late to make accommodations. The driver informed us he would just be dropping our stuff in Houston then.

They told us THREE more weeks until our HHG could be delivered. We got busy waiting. In the meantime, we finally went to pick up our keys. Since we couldn’t get our household goods until later than expected, we also accepted our rental later than planned. By this time, we are aware the pillow is gone. We contact all of the hotels again, including the newer ones.

The first house they offer us in Louisiana is NOT awesome. It barely looked cleaned. So, we ask for another. Thanks to the diligence of our associate, we were given a house that came available the day prior and looked brand new. We might not have our HHG, but we had a house that we were actually really pleased with. Meanwhile, we got a call. The Squishmallow had been found!!!!  A couple of days later, BOOM. The pillow is recovered and sent to us as well. The Squishmallow replacement and the original arrive at the same time. Problem was, the original was actually a miniature version of this tie-dyed, unicorn llama with wings pillow. So, now we had a full-sized one and a baby. So. Crazy. The pillow also arrived and it was in one piece. Our daughter’s woes were eased.

Our HHG finally came, MINUS my husband’s motorcycle. That took another week to relocate and get delivered. That’s a long story of its own. So many of our goods have been damaged we haven’t even been able to complete the report yet: pictures shattered, books torn up, dining table broken in several places, bicycle rim bent in half, the list goes on. We had an adventure getting here, though. We reconnected with old friends and family. We reconnected as a family. We slept on air mattresses for a month one we were here and had only three camp chairs and a folding card table set up for furniture, but we were home. It feels like home here.”

PCSgrades, ShyftThe Home DepotRadisson Hotels Americas, and US Logistics are all happy that we can help during your next PCS move, and we certainly hope things go more smoothly next time around. Congratulations to the McVey family!

The PCS Story Contest judging panel included:
Besa Pinchotti of NMFA (National Military Family Association),
Cameron Cruse of R. Riveter,
Penny Bolden of Blue Star Families,
Lori Simmons of the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Program,
Natasha Harth, the 2016 Military Spouse of the Year,
Whitney Armstrong of MSAN (Military Spouse Advocacy Network),
Sam Meek of Sandboxx, and
Maria Reed of Moving with the Military.