Students no longer, Divers forever

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell shakes Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Closson's hand after helping pin on the Coast Guard's second class diver insignia during a graduation ceremony at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida, Aug. 25, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell shakes Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Closson’s hand after helping pin on the Coast Guard’s second class diver insignia during a graduation ceremony at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida, Aug. 25, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally

 

 

As the sun rose to the east, stretching forth its warm rays across the waters of Florida, a small group of men initiated the day with preparations. They begin ironing uniforms, polishing shoes and generally setting up for a special day.

A day no longer spent hours upon hours studying, but a day they are finally accepted into a small band of highly skilled and trained brothers and sisters. It’s a day everyone in the training program waited for – graduation day.

Even though the classmates walked away from the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center with a new designation for the Coast Guard enlisted ranks, it also marked a special chapter in their careers. Providing the prologue to that new chapter was the highest-ranking enlisted member, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell.

These graduates are a part of a small brotherhood of Coast Guardsmen who’ve been around since the 1940’s. Their story is rooted in the past with the Frogmen of World War II. Like most Coast Guard history, it’s richly entrenched into the Coast Guard’s adoption of former services to create a more effective protection of the maritime environment and to safeguard the Nation’s coasts.

Cantrell attended the school walking around its halls, getting briefed on the school’s training atmosphere and spoke with the graduates themselves to encourage them in their future careers.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the Coast Guard with the new dive rate standing up here soon. I assume you all will lateral over to the new rate once it’s established,” said Cantrell. “The establishment of the new dive rating falls in line with the Commandant’s insistence on proficiency in our crafts and skills.”

Cantrell spoke on the new cutters being built for the Coast Guard, the Commandant’s vision for the future of the Coast Guard and the new dive rating. He also answered questions from some of the soon-to-be dive rate personnel on the effects high tenure would have on the new rating. Cantrell reassured that the training and experience the Coast Guard has put into these certified divers will be a consideration for helping firmly establish this new rate.

He also persuaded the graduates to take the knowledge they learned to the field using it to better the service.Master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard visits Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center

Cantrell spoke to the graduates on the significance of teamwork in the Coast Guard, using the platform of their recent training as a springboard for the topic.

“I’d encourage you to take what you’ve learned about the importance of teamwork to the field to encourage those you’ll be leading soon. Again congratulations to you recent graduates, and thank you staff members for your hard work.”

As Cantrell gave his encouraging words to the members, they sat a little taller in their chairs with an air of pride enveloping the room and all its inhabitants. After completing his speech, Cantrell walked among the ranks of uniformed Coast Guardsmen shaking their hands and thanking them for their hard work and dedication to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard’s newest divers walked away from the school grounds remembering the words spoken to them by Cantrell. More immediately these graduates remembered a highlight in their careers, the pinning on of a rare Coast Guard insignia designating this handful of men as Coast Guard divers.

This small group of men woke up as student, but left as the Coast Guard’s newest qualified divers. They are now a part of a small brotherhood of highly skilled, highly trained and hardworking Coast Guardsmen.

There are few Coast Guard divers, as they will tell you. But there are fewer still that get to be a part of the birth of a new rating.

For these few it was a proud day to be designated as Coast Guard divers. It was an even prouder moment when the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard was the one who pinned them as the service’s most recent divers.

 

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