With the raising of their right hand, about 290 swabs were officially sworn in as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2022 during the first day of Swab Summer on Monday.
“Serve my nation and be able to go out into the world and do amazing things,” said swab Naya Tamariz of San Diego, California, about the experience.
After the ceremony and a class picture, there was the dash to find family. Swabs had just 15 minutes to hug them and say goodbye. Some were all smiles. Other choked back tears.
“My sister’s here. She inspired me to come here,” Swab Kelly Richters, of Chesterfield, Va., said after hugging her sister, a member of the Coast Guard. She was speechless.
It’s been a physically and mentally challenging day for the swabs. Drill practice had them out in the blazing sun and reaching for water. Cadres were adamant about swabs drinking enough to stay hydrated.
Second Class Cadet Emily Wright called out the commands as the cadre, but she remembers what it was like being at drill practice in the heat.
“It was awful. I just remember sweat dripping down your face. You’re not allowed to touch your face. It just tickling,” Wright said. “Everyone goes through it together so it definitely unifies the class.”
West Hartford Swab Carla Barns is proud to be a part of an organization that she said has a humanitarian mission.
“Probably the proudest moment of my life. This is definitely the most challenging thing I’ve ever done so wish me luck,” Barns smiled.
Parents and families are proud, too.
“We were part of Hurricane Harvey. Friendswood (Texas) got hit hard by Harvey. A big part of it was watching the Coast Guard helicopters rescuing all of the people out of the floods and that kind of cemented that for him. He’s been interested forever, but that really cemented it,” said Linda De La Fuente about her son Brendon.
All of De La Fuente’s brothers wore Hawaiian shirts with Coast Guard t-shirts underneath in support of their brother, a “uniform” of their own.
Male swabs got their heads shaved and all got their new uniforms.
It’s a moment East Lyme local and new swab Ryan Taylor waited for since he was a kid.
“Growing up locally and seeing the academy and all the cadets, it was really something – I’ve looked up to them and I always enjoyed seeing them do all the cool stuff they get to do,” Taylor said.
The newest class represents 48 different states and territories said CGA Director of Communications David Santos, adding it’s the most diverse class they’ve had. It’s 40 percent females and 36 percent from underrepresented minority groups.