Eight Connecticut residents are now some of the U.S. Coast Guard’s newest commissioned officers.
In total, 240 cadets graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in New London Wednesday after 200 weeks of intensive studying and training.
“I couldn’t be here without my family and my friends. I’m pretty proud. That’s all I can say,” said an emotional Quinton Parsons of Niantic.
“It’s been amazing. I can’t believe it. I’m so proud. It’s hard I’m going to miss him a lot,” said his sister, Georgia.
Parsons is headed to Pensacola, Florida. He’s assigned to the US Coast Guard Cutter Decisive.
Not long ago, Parsons and his best friend Billy Bragaw were kids chasing after the caps thrown in the air at graduation.
Here they are pictured at the academy graduation one almost a decade ago.
Wednesday, they threw their own covers.
“I can’t really put it into words to be honest. It means a lot at the end of the day, but it’s cool to have gone through it with him for sure,” said Parsons.
Family, friends, and even their high school soccer coach now here for them.
“Just to see how they’ve developed into the great young men that they are from where they were. Hopefully, you know, we all have part in that but I’m so proud of them,” said East Lyme High School Soccer Coach Paul Christensen
As class president, Bragaw presented a gift to keynote speaker U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Like Bolton, Bragaw grew up looking up to coast guardsmen.
“The hard work that all of these people, but particularly, were obviously favor our grandson, but they’re all great,” said grandfather Lou Bragaw, a retired Coast Guard member.
“I can’t add more to that. It’s just wonderful to see him graduate and all these kids too,” said Billy Bragaw’s other grandfather Bruce Skinner, who also served in the Coast Guard.
Parson’s dad Chris has coached at the academy for 18 years.
“I’m the men’s soccer coach. My son came and played for me. This is without a doubt the proudest day I’ll ever have besides when they were born of course.”
While both men will settle into different cities soon—Bragaw is assigned to the Cutter James in Charleston—they’ll still work towards the same goal: two kids from Niantic with a shared dream to protect our country.
Other Connecticut grads include:
Jian Zhang, New London
Camisha Moore, New London
Matt Jones, Gales Ferry
Stephen Bruno, North Branford
Jill Friedman, Farmington
Kali Borden, Milford