Coast Guard’s only basic training center to hold change of command

Coast Guard Training Center Cape May News
CAPE MAY, N.J. – The Coast Guard’s only basic training facility, and one of the largest military bases in the region, will change commanding officers at Training Center Cape May Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Capt. Bill Kelly, commanding officer of Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, will be relieved by Capt. Todd Prestidge during a ceremony that more than 200 people are expected to attend including high-ranking Coast Guard officials and community leaders. Capt. Kelly has been the commanding officer for the Coast Guard’s only enlisted accession point for more than three years where he was responsible for the initial training of more than 20 percent of the service’s more than 39,000 current active duty and reserve enlisted servicemembers

“Leaving Training Center Cape May is a bitter sweet experience,” said Capt. Kelly. “I’m amazed and proud of how much the crew has accomplished in these three short years, but it’s also heartbreaking to leave shipmates, neighbors and a community Angie (Kelly’s wife) and I have grown to love.”

Rear Adm. Scott A. Buschman, the commander of Coast Guard Force Readiness Command in Norfolk, Va., will preside over the ceremony and will recognize Kelly for his many accomplishments during his assignment. Some of Capt Kelly’s notable accomplishments include overhauls in training using technology and human performance technology to reduce injuries, lower attrition and close knowledge gaps in the Coast Guard’s most junior workforce.

“The future of the Coast Guard starts at Training Center Cape May,” said Rear Adm. Buschman. “Capt. Kelly trained the men and women of the world’s best Coast Guard who execute critical frontline Coast Guard missions to ensure the safety, security and stewardship of our Nation’s maritime environment.”

Capt. Prestidge reports to Training Center Cape May from Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington where he served as the service’s chief of the Office of Military Personnel. He also has an extensive operational background having served aboard more than five Coast Guard cutters, including several as a commanding officer, conducting counter drug, migrant interdiction, search and rescue, and national defense missions.

“This is truly my dream job and the culmination of my career,” said Capt. Prestidge. “No other position in the Coast Guard allows you to have such a direct and lasting impact on the service as the commanding officer of Training Center Cape May.”

More than 80 percent of the Coast Guard’s workforce started their careers at Training Center Cape May, which is also Cape May County’s largest employer and will have an estimated economic impact of more than $250 million in 2013 alone. The Coast Guard is one of the most selective armed forces with only four percent of applicants chosen for enlisted service.

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