Cape May community steps in to send off Coast Guard training graduates

CAPE MAY, N.J. (WPVI) -- It's roughly the 30th time that Mike Couch and his patriotic community have lined the streets of Pittsburgh Avenue with American flags and special signs. Since April 2020, they have been there to send off Coast Guard recruits whose ceremonies have been curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When it was closed to families and friends, the community decided that we wanted to do something to help them celebrate graduating bootcamp," said Couch, the Executive Director of the Cape May County Coast Guard Community Foundation.

Cape May was officially recognized as a Coast Guard Community since it is home to the only Coast Guard recruit training center in the United States.

Couch and his neighbors have lessened the burden on distant family members who are forced to watch their children train and graduate in isolation. In fact, some parents have decided to make the trip to join them.

"It means a lot to us parents that the community supports the local coast guard like this," said Chester Kope, who flew to Cape May from South Florida with his wife this morning.

Kope's son, Abram, celebrated his 20th birthday while training at the southernmost tip of New Jersey.

"He grew up immensely just in the few weeks that he was here at bootcamp," said Kope. "It's a huge sacrifice, but at the same time, it's a good sacrifice."

To learn more about the training center and the community's efforts to recognize the Coast Guard, visit their Facebook pages.

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