NEW LONDON, CT (WFSB) — More than 200 men and women were sworn in and began training to become members of the U.S. Coast Guard this week.
Monday marked day 1 of what’s called “Swab Summer,” an intense 8 week training program designed to turn students into military members.
The class of 2023 is already making history. The incoming class has the largest cohort of Asian Americans the academy has ever seen.
The experience as a whole is uncharted territory for some families. For others, it’s about legacy.
“[It’s] a place that I graduated from in 1987,” said Rear Adm. William Kelly, superintendent, U.S. Coast Guard Academy. “I have a son who graduated in 2014.”
Kelly said he was once in their shoes.
“Today is literally their first day in service,” he said.
He knows the emotions that come with it.
“They are definitely nervous, truly a range of emotions,” Kelly said. “You see smiles, you see tears, you see a look of anguish and you see a look of absolute pride on the moms and dads.”
Joe Orbe said he served in the Philippines Coast Guard. His father was in the Army and his grandfather was in the National Police.
He said now it’s his son Joshua’s turn.
“I asked him before what he wants to be, and he only has one answer every time,” Joe Orbe said. “He wants to be like me and those who went before him from our family.”
The first step for all of the swabs is to get to the barber shop.
“[I] try to keep some humor in their day because this is a tough day for the cadet, it really is,” said Bill Maynard, contractor.
The look they receive is a right of passage.
“I grew up into the military life and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” Joshua Orbe said.
On day 1, the swabs learn Coast Guard values like honor, respect and devotion to duty.
They also answer to their chain of command and learn proper formation.
They do it all why remembering to pay attention.
The cadets who survive swab summer and four years at the academy will go on to graduation.
They’ll join the 55,000 men and women in service to the nation.
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