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New London — More than 200 newly minted Coast Guard officers tossed their cadet hats and shoulder boards into the air Wednesday after receiving praise from U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and outgoing Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr.
“I am confident you will make a difference in the lives of those around you,” said Johnson, the commencement speaker. Johnson became the Homeland Security secretary in December, after serving as general counsel for the Department of Defense.
With the war in Iraq completed and the war in Afghanistan coming to a close, more attention would soon turn to the Coast Guard, he said from the stage set up on Cadet Memorial Field.
He praised the graduating class for how it had already served the country, singling out graduate Dillon Torno for providing life-saving first aid to a mariner in distress while off duty visiting his home state of New Jersey in 2011.
Torno received a Coast Guard Commendation Medal for his actions.
“Somewhere among you is the future commandant,” Johnson said.
He reminded the graduates to show thankfulness to their families and members of the Coast Guard who have preceded them.
In response to Distinguished Graduate Stephanie J. Jocis’ speech in which she mentioned the challenges of undergoing a Coast Guard Academy education, he said, “We make it hard for a reason.”
Jocis, of Palos Verdes, Calif., spoke about how the cadets had spent 1,424 days together, sharing in a schedule that included early mornings and days filled with sports, academics and other duties.
“Maybe find some time to sleep and then hit repeat, 1,424 times,” she said.
She focused her speech on the sense of unity among the 214 graduates. The class was about 10 graduates smaller than that of 2013. Academy spokesman David Santos said classes have been shrinking in size due to retention of members of the Coast Guard, which leads to less space for new officers.
“We came in on R-day as individuals, and today we graduate as one class,” she said, ending her speech on a note of excitement about the positive impact the new officers will have on other people’s lives.
As the cadets began streaming in a string of white uniforms to the stage to collect their diplomas, Eunice Chevalier, of Mountain Home, Texas, sat in a pocket of shade with her iPhone, filming the procession.
She said of her son Matthew’s graduation, “If we tell the story, it was God’s plan.”
Matthew was her third son to graduate from the academy and received his diploma from his older brother, a Coast Guard pilot in Florida.
Before the cadets could become officers, Class President Bradley Pienta thanked Papp, who retires from service at the end of the month, for guiding the class through its training.
“We promise to take all that we have learned from you into the fleet,” he said.
Graduate Marlon Camejo of West Palm Beach, Fla., said after the ceremony that the day was “surreal.”
“It seems simple,” said the new officer. “But there are so many things that go into it that are so difficult to explain.”
Graduate Kate Compagnoni, already decked out in officer attire, stood chatting with her father, Barry, who retired last year as a captain after 27 years in the Coast Guard.
“I never thought I would ultimately do it,” she said of following what has become a family tradition that has taken her from Coast Guard base to Coast Guard base throughout her life.
She saw a friend who was still a cadet walk by and hollered to him, “Oh my God, do you want to be my first salute?”
She grinned and exchanged salutes with her former classmate, then handed him a silver dollar, as is customary in a first salute.
Joel Robert Amendolara, Katerina Teresa Anderson, Meredith Marie Anderson, Daniela Jimena Andrade, Benjamin Nelson Arocho, Thomas Julian Ashley, Ryan Robert Babb, Isaac Thomas Babcock, Samuel Gareth Bacon, Ethan David Baisden, Maren Elfriede Balke, Elizabeth Ann Baumsteiger, Dominik Peter Benedetto, John Deward Benedict, Kyle James Benson, Patrick Adrian Beringer, Samuel Thomas Birch, Abigail Laura Bishop, Joseph Young-Do Bodzewski, Emily Anna Bogdan, Thomas James Bondurant, Eric James Bonomi, Nathan Michael Borders, Jerry Nelson Brown, Larla Hope Brown, Kumar F. Brunhart-McBratney, Michael Alex Caballero, Marlon Antonio Camejo, John Marshall Campbell, Kelly Ryan Campbell, Nicholas Paul Capuzzi, Stuart Bren Carley, David Allen Carrier, Laura Raffaella Carts, Paulina del Pilar Castillo, Daniel Charles Chase, Matthew Robert Chevalier, Jaimie Danielle Chicoine, Kate Kennedy Compagnoni, Austin L. Condra, Robert Russell Copeland, Aaron Christopher Corn, Scott Michael Coull, Stephen Matthew Cresswell.
Margaret Berman Damarlane, Aaron James Davis, Grant Andrew De Visser, Paul Richard Dell'Isola, Kelsey Marie DePorto, Jamen Dilaun Descartes, Rachel Anne Deschene, John Mark Dierker, William Stephen Dise, Philip Michael Driscoll, Catherine Marie Durand, Khaled Ellafi, Chelsea Caitlin Emmons, John Matthew Epperly, Kristin Barbara Euchler, Gary Paul Ezzo, Devin Marie Fellman, Chantel Lynn Ferguson, Joshua Samuel Fischer, Juan Francisco Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Jean Flint, Gloria Rebecca Fox, Brandon Joshua Foy, Nicholas Michael Fredericksen, Andrew Gordon Gathy, Joshua Freeman Gerry, Cole Robert Gingrich, Carlos Mikel Gonzalez, Kyle Thomas Grell, Kelly Elizabeth Grills, Lindsay Ann Grim, Alyssa Brooke Guminski, John Mercer Hall, John Martin Hamel, Tyler David Hames, Bradley Reynold Harbert, Jaclyn Briana Harbison, Wyatt Thomas Harvey, Cassandra Nicole Hawley, Walter Andrew Heaney.
Brian Philip Hills, Jerry Li Heng Hong, Judith Ann Hooymans, John Robert Houk, Zachary Ray Hunter, Andrew Joseph Jaeger, José Miguel Jaramillo, Stephanie Joymarie Jocis, Karlin Chastain Joh, Barrett Allen Johannsen, André Jamal Jones-Butler, Elliott James Kahl, Meghan Kayla Kalinowski, Samuel Jordan Keith, Jillian Elizabeth Kelly, Patrick Thomas Kelly, Scott Wilson Kenney, Clay Overton Kosack, Jacob Thomas Kramb, Samuel Warren Kulp, Kathryn Renee Lamphere, Lukas Penha Laplante, Kelcie Lynne LaRoche, Jordan Mitchell Lee, Catherine Rose Sarah Leknes, Eric Louis Lenoir, John Knight Locke, Charles Richard Lortz, Brandy Jean Lowary, Lena Alexis Ludewig, Jessica Dale Lukasik, Kelsey Mae Lyford, Brendan Elias Magnuson, Leslie Ann Majcher, Augustus Paul Manzi, Emily Sophia Marks, Samantha Ashlie Marmolejo, Allyson Alise Mason, Marc Ian McAndrew, Dahnyoung McGarry, Benjamin Jack McKeathen, Justino Andres Melendez, Giedrius Mikalauskas, Matthew George Miller, Bradley Scott Milliken, Matthew Anthony Monahan, Anthony Joseph Monteforte, Ryan Gerard Montvydas, Ryan Joseph Moore, Virgil Augustus Moreno, Justine Marie Morrison, Jake David Mueller, Marie Katherine Navetta.
Nicole Yai-Zhen Nee, Jessica L. Nelson, Alexander James Norton, Ryan William O'Neill, Pablo Andres Ortiz, Rachel Stuart Ostrow, Alex Joshua Oswald, Nickolas David Palacios, Christopher Anthony Palmieri, David Nathaniel Parker, Kevin Michael Peters, Robert William Pfaff, Nicholas William Phillips, Victoria Lynn Phillips, Bradley Louis Pienta, Scott Anthony Pratz, John Carlos Ramirez, Jordan Christian Rank, John Jacob Rendon, Alexandra Marie Rennie, Douglas Keenan Ricketts, Evan Schuyler Rothfeld, Samuel Buckman Ruby, Anna Lisette Ruth, Robert Michael Scaduto, Adam Peter Scalesse, Carter Thomas Schlank, Eric John Schmid, Jacob Cristiano Schroeder, John Wesley Schultz, Kristen Elizabeth Schultz, Gabriella Scrudato, Hannah Margery Seeland, Tony Joseph Seleznick, Angel Luis Serrano, Chelsea Marissa Sheehy, Yue Han Shen, Jacob Leszek Sibilski.
Kendra Hughes Smith, Laurin Mae Tatum Smith, Molly Riane Smith, Rachel Ann Smith, Kevin Rexrode Sowers, Drew Matthew Stafford, Alexandra Victoria Stinner, Ainsley Cairn Stringfield, Alexander Grant Sullivan, Boone Thomas Swanberg, John Philip Tabb, Jake Edward Taylor, Lucas Edward Taylor, Treston Thomas Taylor, David Richard Thomson, Trey Alexander Thunborg, Marco Maxwell Tinari, Dillon Jeffrey Torno, Charles Arthur Totten, Brianna Emily Townsend, Emily Marie Trudeau, Joseph Raymond Trump, John Patrick Tubalado, Alyssa Jean Turner, Cyrus Pappas Unvala, Jonathon Francis Upton, Daniel Andersson Valenti, Kyle Everett VanDillen, Pantelis Nick Vasilarakis, Michael Vincent Vitrano, Audra Kathleen Ward, Kaitlin Marie Ward, DeVonte Dé Brien Weems, Benjamin Charles Wolhaupter, David Raymond Wolinski, Joshua Wade Womboldt, Makaila Lynn Woodard, Carol Denise Yin, Lauren Elizabeth Young.