James as ENS

United States Coast Guard Academy Graduation

21 May 2008

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Page last updated June 16, 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

     This is the first of two new galleries about major milestones in the Dooley family's life in May 2008. This one is about James' graduation from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Environmental Sciences and his commissioning as an Ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard on May 21. The other, of course, is about James' & Crystal's wedding on May 31.

     Commencement at a service academy is a pretty big event, stretching over several days. The Dooley clan drove out, arriving at Hawk's Nest Beach (a collection of waterfront summer cottages in Old Lyme, Connecticut) on Saturday the 17th. That night there was a moonlight class cruise out into Long Island Sound aboard a ferry boat with music and fantastic food. Then on Sunday afternoon there was a class picnic, and that night dinner at Hawk's Nest with old friends Jim & Bonnie Roehm. After dinner Jeff passed on to James his dad's watch, with Granddad Dooley's, Jeff's, and James' initials engraved on the back. Monday was an open house day at the academy and visit from Anne's childhood friend Kathy Lauretano, a visit to the Coast Guard Museum, and a relaxing evening at the beach house. Tuesday was the final morning parade of James' cadet career, and a fun evening at an Irish pub in Mystic, Connecticut with music provided by some of his classmates.

     Wednesday was the big day -- the 127th Commencement Exercises. The family (Jeff, Anne, Sarah, Carol, and Cousin Matt) got on the road early to the academy, arriving when the gates opened at 7:30. We got parked, then had a long walk to the security screening area. Then we got ourselves positioned in the football stands (great position, right on the 50 yard line, halfway up!) by 8:30 and waited until the ceremony started at 11:00. It was a beautiful, sunny day, but the academy provided plenty of bottled water and we had our sunscreen.

     After some excellent music from the Coast Guard Band, the ceremony began with the Class of 2008 marching in, followed by the faculty. The official party then arrived (Superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy Rear Admiral J. Scott Burhoe, Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and Vice President Richard Cheney). There was the usual ceremony of a college graduation with the Dean of the Academy presenting the graduates, followed by the additional aspects of a service academy with the presentation of 3 foreign graduates and then the administration of the oath of office of U.S. Coast Guard officers to the U.S. graduates. The final element of the day came when the graduates were instructed to divest themselves of the symbols of cadet life and threw their hats into the air. The timing was perfect; as the hats were in the air, there was a fly-over by a USCG HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and a USCG HU-25 jet. We didn't quite get the picture, but the hats and the aircraft were overhead at the same time. Two big traditions came after the ceremony:  James received his new hat, with the officer insignia (different from the cadet's) and presented the first person to salute him with a dollar coin, and two people important to the new Ensign (i.e. Anne & I) put on his new shoulder boards.

     And yes, I did cry.


New Picture added June 17, 2008

James Graduation

James receives his diploma from RADM Burhoe (not a thumbnail)


Click here to view the photo gallery of the week's activities