My Dad was president of his Coast Guard Academy class, and partly as a result, has been planning class reunions ever since. (Don’t term limits kick in at some point?) Right now he is in the throes of organizing his 70th (!) reunion, which will take place during Homecoming next month in New London, CT. One of the more sacred traditions at the Coast Guard Academy calls for each reunion class to march onto the football field, while the announcer reads a few words about the class. Here is the script that Dad and I wrote last night to describe the Coast Guard Academy class of 1945. I think it says all that needs to be said about honor and commitment:
146 of us were sworn in on July 16, 1941. We were the largest and last peacetime class to enter the Academy, and only two of us held draft cards. Six months later, after Pearl Harbor, the First-Classmen graduated, leaves were canceled, and we were informed that we would be required to do four years’ worth of academics in a total of three. We rose to the challenge; 95 of us graduated and received our commissions in June 1944, one day after D-day in Normandy.
After antisubmarine and antiaircraft refresher training, and after 18 weddings, we all dispersed to our first assignments, comprising a wide variety of Coast Guard cutters and U.S. Navy vessels. Once we were in the War it was soon over, and all of us who graduated returned safely home, although two classmates who left prior to graduation paid the ultimate price. Our class indeed proved “always ready”; members of the Class of 1945 served in-country in Korea and later in Vietnam.
After the War, the Coast Guard assumed new duties. An emphasis on weather patrol, aids to navigation, air-sea rescue, ice patrol, lighthouse service and merchant-marine safety obviously interested us, because of the 51 of us who elected to stay past our required tour in 1948, all but three were still on active duty and eligible for 20-year retirement. Eighteen of us remained on active duty 30 years after graduation, and two of our class served at flag rank. Today, we look back with pride to a lifetime of service: Three years as a cadet, a career on active duty, followed by 40 years of retirement.
The class of 1945 is still 24 members strong. 17 of us are represented here today, including non-graduates and widows, and together, we comprise the largest 70th reunion class in the Academy’s history. We are united in pride of our service, honor in having served our country on air, land and sea, and to have done so in peacetime and through every war and conflict.