Graduating Coast Guard Academy cadets get Oscar-style reveal of future posts
By JULIA BERGMAN | The Day | Published: March 8, 2019
NEW LONDON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — Ships that have intercepted hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cocaine. A command that defends the Coast Guard's cyber assets. And an icebreaker that's been at the forefront of the changing Arctic.
These are just some of the places graduating cadets at the Coast Guard Academy are headed in just a few short months.
On Thursday night, the 243 cadets that make up the Class of 2019 filled the Leamy Hall Auditorium to await the news of where they will start their careers as officers.
Most college graduates get word of a job offer by phone or email. Cadets learn of their first assignments in a night of Oscar-style reveal during which high-fives, cheers and slaps on the back were routine. There were even some tears.
In January, the cadets submitted a list of their top choices. Many list the type of job they're interested in or an area they'd like to live, and let the Coast Guard detailers pick for them.
A variety of factors such as class rank, grade point average and physical fitness evaluation score are weighed when determining assignments. Considerations are given to requests to co-locate from cadets who are planning to get married.
Forty-four percent of this year's graduating class got their top choice. Most of the cadets – 87 percent – will serve on Coast Guard ships.
Kyla Hughley, 22, of Neptune, N.J., was among a group of cadets assigned to the coveted flight school. She knows it will be challenging and invigorating. "Being able to help others and pull them out of the water, literally, that's the hands-on interaction you get to have with those in need," she said.
Four cadets are going to work for Cyber Command in Washington, D.C., a new billet as of 2017. At the start of this academic year, the academy introduced a new major in cyber systems, which already has drawn strong interest.
Jian Zhang, 21, of New London said after spending some time in Guam last summer, his top priority was getting stationed somewhere warm. The Ledyard High School grad got his wish: he'll be serving on the cutter Venturous out of St. Petersburg, Fla. He said the medium-endurance cutter strikes a good balance in that it's large enough to have a consistent schedule and small enough that he can get to know the rest of the crew well.
U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet first class Robert Wyler celebrates his assignment to the Coast Guard cutter James as members of the Academy Class of 2019 receive their first duty assignments during Billet Night at the academy's Leamy Hall Auditorium Thursday, March 7, 2019, in New London, Conn.
SEAN D. ELLIOT/THE DAY VIA AP