Top Coast Guard leaders attend recruit graduation at Training Center Cape May, NJ

Coast Guard Training Center Cape May NewsCAPE MAY, N.J. — The highest-ranking officer and enlisted member of the U.S. Coast Guard attended recruit graduation at Training Center Cape May Friday at 11 a.m.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp was the keynote speaker at the graduation for Recruit Company Zulu 186 along with Master Chief Petty Officer Michael P. Leavitt, the master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard.

“It was inspiring to share this important day with the family and friends of Zulu 186,” said Papp following the ceremony. “However, graduation is just the beginning.  In just a couple weeks, most of these new Coast Guardsmen will be conducting frontline Coast Guard operations regionally and globally.”

Papp is the most senior leader of the Nation’s longest continuous maritime armed force. He is responsible for more than 43,000 active duty members, 7,800 reservists, 8,300 civilian employees and 33,000 Auxiliary volunteers. Under Papp’s watch in 2011, the Coast Guard saved more than 3,800 lives, seized more than 166,000 pounds of cocaine, interdicted nearly 2,500 undocumented migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States, and continued the deployment of six Patrol Boats and 400 personnel to protect Iraq’s critical maritime infrastructure and train Iraqi naval forces.

The focus of Papp’s leadership has been on properly training and equipping the Coast Guard’s personnel to carry out their important and, many times, dangerous missions. Papp recently addressed the Coast Guard on the importance of proficiency beyond accession into the service, and he challenged the graduates of Zulu 186 to also strive for continued professional growth.

“The continued flow of drugs and migrants toward our shores, threats to fisheries, the increased activity in the Arctic, and our mandate to assure the safe and secure approaches to American ports all challenge the Coast Guard on a daily basis,” said Papp. “To meet these threats we need the Coast Guardsmen of Zulu Company to continually develop their proficiency, which will serve as an anchor upon which the Coast Guard will hold fast in uncertain and stormy seas, and I have no doubt they will.”

Leavitt is Papp’s senior enlisted advisor and is a 1982 graduate of Training Center Cape May with Recruit Company November 112. Leavitt advises Papp on enlisted workforce policies, advocates for military benefits and entitlements, is the service’s senior enlisted mentor, and acts as the sounding board for select enlisted administrative actions.

“Today’s graduates have taken the first step down a path that will lead to significant personal and professional growth,” said Leavitt following Zulu 186’s graduation ceremony.  “I‘m confident that they will join their shipmates in the fleet and complete our service’s missions with the same sacrifice, dedication, and commitment I see every day in the Coast Guard.”

Training Center Cape May advanced 75 recruits from Zulu 186 during Friday’s ceremony. Approximately 85 percent of the original recruits who formed Zulu Company June 19 graduated Friday. The company had a 15-percent attrition rate. Most of the recruits in Zulu Company will be reporting to their first operational unit on or about Aug. 27.

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