Vice President Mike Pence told graduating cadets at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London that the administration intends to continue to invest in the service.
On a sunny day at Cadet Memorial Field overlooking the Thames river, Pence addressed the 209 cadets of the class of 2018 -- following his boss President Donald Trump who attended graduation at the service academy last year.
“Today as you prepare to assume your duties as officers of the United States Coast Guard you do so at a time of historic investment in the armed forces of the United States," Pence said in his address. "And as you accept the responsibilities of elite Coast Guardsmen and women, I promise you -- this commander in chief will always have your back.”
Pence spoke of the global security risks that he sees the Coast Guard helping to address as these new officers take their place in the service, from nuclear proliferation to illegal immigration. “At this very moment, the world’s most dangerous terrorists and criminal networks are working to gain a foothold across the Western hemisphere to threaten our people and our very way of life,” he said.
Eight Connecticut natives were among the newly commissioned officers - they’ll now begin their assignments aboard cutters and at Coast Guard stations all around the US.
While the vice president received a warm welcome from the graduating cadets and their families inside the New London campus, outside the gates a handful of protestors gathered to highlight their problems with the policies of the Trump administration.
"As the military budget is being expanded, services to people are being lost," said Carmen Wooster from Hartford.
"Mike Pence stands for everything that's wrong with this country," said Elaine Adams from New London. "His intolerance of the LGBT community, he's ani-immigrant, his failure to respect women's rights."
The vice president may not have made too many friends in the wider southeastern Connecticut community either; his visit necessitated the closure of the Gold Star bridge twice, causing major backups on I95.