After four years of studying and learning to become the best officers they can be, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy class of 2018 graduated in front of friends and family on Wednesday.
Vice President Mike Pence was the keynote speaker at the Coast Guard's 137th commencement, telling the graduates that they will be great leaders of our service.
"Leaders of our nation. Leaders around the world. Because the sun is never going to set on the Class of 2018...because the sun never sets on our U.S. Coast Guard today," Pence said.
The ceremony began at 11 a.m. on Cadet Memorial Field. Pence delivered his speech around 11:50 a.m.
In the speech, Pence applauded their accomplishments and their future mission on the front lines fighting drugs, illegal immigration, and saving thousands of lives, last year alone, during hurricane’s Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“The loss of life and property would have been so much worse if it weren’t for the bravery and courage of the men and women of the United States Coast Guard," Pence said.
Following his address, cadets were awarded their degrees, in eight various majors.
There were 208 graduates who are all now ensigns, and eight were from CT.
“I really wanted to go out and help people and I intend to do just that," said Adam Davis, of Griswold.
“So proud of all the cadets, all the work they’ve done," said Kristen Hollenbeck, North Andover, MA. “It’s just been great to see their journey. You know, from teenagers to young men and women who are ready to go out and serve their country.”
People traveled from far and near.
“Anytime you get a visiting representative of the United States government, especially a VP or President, that’s huge," said Jim McCarthy, Class of 1972.
Channel 3 spoke to parents of the graduates on Wednesday morning.
“We’re worried about him, but he’s well trained he’s well prepared," said Margaret Smith of Chicago.
Earlier in the week, graduates rehearsed ahead of the big day.
Tuesday, an Air Force C-17 cargo plane, loaded with limos and Pence's advance team, landed at Groton-New London Airport.
Security was tight both on and off campus. Boat traffic on the Thames River near the academy was suspended. The Gold Star Bridge was also closed at specific times while the vice president traveled to and from the ceremony.
The increased security was nothing new for officials at the academy. President Donald Trump was last year's keynote speaker.
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