Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin
The Coast Guard Academy Class of 2019 resonates with the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.
The 240 graduates represent the best of the future leaders of the Coast Guard.
As Coast Guard First Class Cadet Colton Atkinson said in his Distinguished Honor Graduate speech during commencement earlier this week.
“Today, we celebrate the culmination of 200 weeks of late nights together and look forward to exciting opportunities with the chance to go out and stand up for others.
“We relive the joy and excitement when in Dimick Hall fourth class year we learned the people who would be joining us in our new companies and the relief we had waited for all year: CARRY-ON… We reminisce on the elation of taking a 295-foot sailboat across the Atlantic with 120 of our classmates, taking some astonishing stops in Ireland, England, Madeira, and Bermuda along the way. We remember the motivation we gleaned from going as close as New London and as far as Guam to stand beside our remarkable enlisted workforce to carry out the Coast Guard’s unique mission. We feel the nervousness we felt the day we stood beside each other on Washington Parade Field in front of our swabs, AIM-sters, and prep-sters and took the cadre oath. The day we assumed responsibility for training 300 people, who were just a year or two younger than us; instilling in them respect for others and helping them forge bonds with their classmates. We hark back to the thrill of opening our billets on the stage in Leamy with those who would go with us to [fast response cutters] in Miami and Polar Rollers in Seattle. With Cadet First Class Will French to lead us, we stood up for people who have been sexually assaulted by organizing “Denim Day” for the Corps. Under Cadet First Class Leah Harter, the Cadet Peer Support group continually sought new ways to support the Corp’s mental health. For 200 weeks, we trekked and triumphed through this academy experience together.”
These are just a few of the achievement of the Class of 2019, now ensigns headed to their new assignments.
As they travel to the next chapter in their lives, they take with them the things they have learned from their time at the Academy, including the Coast Guard Core Values.
The Core Values are more than just Coast Guard rules of behavior. They are deeply rooted in the heritage that has made the Coast Guard great. The values demonstrate who Coast Guardsmen are and guide their performance, conduct and decisions every minute of every day.
Integrity is our standard. We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct and moral behavior in all of our personal and organizational actions. We are loyal and accountable to the public trust.
The mission of the Honor Concept, as practiced at the Coast Guard Academy, is for all cadets to internalize a relationship which prevails among individuals who, in their dealing with each other and the world at large, believe and practice complete and total honesty and integrity. Honor, as a concept, embodies a way of life, an approach in dealing with others and ourselves.
People who revere and practice the concept of Honor do not lie to themselves or others; do not cheat themselves or others; do not deceive themselves or others; and do not steal. Accordingly, the concept of Honor is summed up in the phrase, ‘Who Lives Here Reveres Honor, Honors Duty.”
We value our diverse workforce. We treat each other and those we serve with fairness, dignity, respect, and compassion. We encourage creativity through empowerment. We work as a team.
After facing several set backs, the Class of 2019 rallied together and with the rest of the Corps emerged better than before.
Devotion to Duty
We are professionals, military and civilian, who seek responsibility, accept accountability, and are committed to the successful achievement of our organizational goals. We exist to serve. We serve with pride.
Devotion to duty means dedication and diligence to accomplish a goal or mission.
Being a cadet is not always easy. It takes a deep commitment to complete the 200 weeks at the Coast Guard Academy and then several years in the Coast Guard.
The Class of 2019 fulfilled their obligations at the Academy and now go on to start their careers. Some will stop at five, others 10 years, and possibly a few will last past 30 years.
A true devotion to duty does not stop after the mission is complete; it means to find new ways to improve on yourself for the next mission.
Not all Class of 2019 graduates are required to complete five years of Coast Guard service. The 20 graduates headed to flight school are required to complete eight years of service after graduation.
Aviators of all U.S. sea-going services train at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in fixed and rotary wing trainers, and land-based simulators.
On completion of basic flight training, they will report to Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Alabama, and learn to fly a Coast Guard aircraft.
On completion of training in Mobile they are designated as a co-pilot and are ready to report to their first air station.
Besides having earned their wings, they will receive an aviator number and join a distinguished line of aviation pioneers and heroes, which started with Cmdr. Elmer Stone, Aviator Number 1, in 1919.
“Earning a spot to flight school is extremely humbling and exciting. It’s been the biggest goal of mine for a while now and is worth every late night I’ve spent working hard,” said First Class Cadet Kyla Hughley, a member of Class of 2019 and future pilot.
“To be chosen is a huge responsibility and one that I strive to steward well. I look forward to making the most of this challenging opportunity and making the loved ones and mentors who have gotten me this far, very proud.”
The Class of 2019 is the most diverse class yet.
They have come from 42 different states and — international countries, and are headed far and wide to their new units in the Coast Guard.
Of the 240 graduates, 160 of them are male and 80 are female.
In 2015, when they arrived at the Academy as swabs, Camisha Moore from New London, Connecticut, had the shortest drive with less than 3 miles, and Saranjoe Sukcha had the farthest to travel coming the 9,000 miles from Malaysia.
Now that they have graduated, the newly commissioned Coast Guard ensigns are reporting to their new units across the nation. Ensign Hudson Dunaway has the shortest distance to drive at 60 miles, while Ensign Nate Harvey is taking his Texas Astros jersey and cowboy hat all the way to Guam.
Unlike Harvey, many of the graduates will not have too far to travel. Pensacola, Florida, has the largest number of graduates getting stationed there with 32 heading that way. Twenty-four graduates are going to Portsmouth, Virginia; 21 to Seattle; 17 to Alameda, California; and 14 to Honolulu.
With about 90% of the graduates going to cutters, a few are excited to be staying on dry land.
Four graduates are assigned to Coast Guard Cyber Command in Washington, D.C.
And last but definitely not least, six graduates will become marine inspectors. Four at sectors, and one at a marine safety unit.
As the new ensigns leave the Academy they take with them the words of Atkinson.
“We don’t live in a perfect world,” said Atkinson.
“We’ve been through a lot these past four years. We’ve seen the good, and we’ve seen the bad. We have sources of pride and areas of shortcomings. These shortcomings aren’t exclusive to the Academy. They aren’t exclusive to the Coast Guard, but they are real. These issues are real, and they are the same issues facing all of America. However, if we’ve learned anything in our four years here, when we come together with each other, with the commissioned officers of the Coast Guard, and with the American people, we can overcome them. When we leave here today, the Class of 2019 is joining the wardroom at over 90 different cutters and units. Some of us will go to units where people aren’t being treated properly, or people are acting immorally. In 30 days, it will be our responsibility to respond. In 30 days, it will be up to us to decide if we will create change in the organization or take the easy way out, and turn a blind eye. In 30 days, it’s time to prove ourselves worthy of the special faith and confidence that is placed in us as ensigns. I know we are capable of incredible things! In 30 days, let’s get started. Thank you. Go Commencement. Go 2019. And forever, Go Bears!”