On June 1, 2022, Secretary Mayorkas delivered remarks at the change-of-command ceremony where Adm. Karl L. Schultz was relieved as Commandant of the Coast Guard by Adm. Linda L. Fagan:
Thank you, Rear Admiral Platt.
President Biden speaks so movingly of our United States as a country of possibilities, one where our individual and collective talents, drive, and spirit can achieve anything.
All across our great nation and around the world, Members of the United States Coast Guard prove that to be true every single day. Through selfless service to mission and with a spirit of innovation, Coasties everywhere are achieving extraordinary things, from daring rescues to protecting sovereign waters, and so much more.
Our country of possibilities is defined by our people. The Members of the Coast Guard who have served and are serving bring honor to our nation every day. Those who are embarking upon our service hold boundless promise for the future.
May 18th illustrated that so powerfully, as Cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, graduated and became new Officers. As each approached the stage to receive their diploma and commission, I witnessed as each radiated with the courage of military service, the excitement of new postings, and the healthy nervousness of new beginnings.
As each one of them walked across the stage – a walk of forty or so feet that represented four years of hard work and tenacity – they were greeted, one by one, with words of encouragement, strength, and pride. Each of them was greeted personally by their Commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz.
Great leadership also defines our United States as a country of possibilities, and that is what we are here to celebrate today: the great leadership of Admiral Schultz, the 26th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.
Admiral Schultz has served our country with distinction for 39 years. Through numerous flag and operational assignments spanning coast to coast, he has devoted his career to the Coast Guard and made life better for its members and their families.
As Commandant, Admiral Schultz has led the Coast Guard through a unique and unprecedented period. In early 2019, the federal government was shut down and active-duty Coast Guard members were not paid. Through the shutdown, the Coast Guard continued to not only operate and fulfill its mission, but it shined. Members speak of that difficult time with admiration for, and adoration of, their Commandant, who stood by them and provided them with the support they needed.
Throughout the global pandemic, the Coast Guard did not have the option of working from home. At the outset of the pandemic, Admiral Schultz led Coasties as they brought cruise ship passengers and crew to safety. From that time forward, he has helped keep the Marine Transportation System going, which facilitates more than a quarter of our country’s gross domestic product and maintains 31 million jobs in American ports, harbors, and waterways.
Through the most intense and active Atlantic hurricane season on record, historic levels of migration, the urgent need to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, and the Afghan resettlement effort of Operation Allies Welcome, the Coast Guard has been there, always ready and always delivering.
It has been so because of the Coast Guard’s enormous talent and agility, its proud tradition of service whenever and wherever needed, and the incredible leadership of Admiral Schultz. While meeting these immense challenges, the Commandant has spearheaded a more than 20% increase in the Coast Guard’s budget and ignited the largest shipbuilding effort since World War II.
Most of all, Admiral Schultz has focused steadfastly on the well-being of every member of the Coast Guard and the advancement of its core values as an American institution. Championing diversity, equity, and inclusion, overhauling the Service’s civil rights policy, expanding mentorship and support programs, he has been there for the Coasties and the country they proudly serve.
He has led the Coast Guard to new heights during an extraordinary tenure. The service of the new Officers commissioned on May 18th, and the service of thousands of others whom he has recruited, mentored, inspired, and led, will be a tribute to his contributions and will build on his legacy.
So too will the leadership of the Coast Guard’s 27th Commandant, Admiral Linda Fagan. Admiral Fagan was a member of the 6th class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that accepted women. She began her career as the only woman of the crew of the venerable icebreaker Polar Star from 1985 to 1987. She has served on all seven continents and is the longest-serving active-duty Officer in the marine safety field, which earned her the Coast Guard’s first-ever Gold Ancient Trident. She will be the first woman to serve as Commandant and the first female Service Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Admiral Fagan is a trailblazer. For more than 230 years, women have had an essential role in the United States Coast Guard and its predecessor services. Coast Guard women have helped shape the service and pioneered the role of women in the federal government and the nation.
Now the Coast Guard has its first woman Commandant. Today is an historic day for the United States Coast Guard – an historic day for the United States.
This is a day when the change, the charge, and privilege of leadership passes from one adored and revered Admiral to another. It is a great day for the Schultz and Fagan families too. We do not serve alone; our loved ones serve with us. Dawn Schultz and John Fagan, thank you for your service and your sacrifice.
The future is bright and a reflection of the leaders here. Ensign Eric Schultz heard the personal words of encouragement, strength, and pride from his father as he walked across the stage of the Coast Guard Academy last year. Lieutenant Aileen Fagan follows in her mother’s footsteps.
Thank you, Admiral Schultz, for your extraordinary career of service to the Coast Guard and our nation. Admiral Fagan, we turn to you with great promise. Semper Paratus.
America is indeed a country of possibilities. No one champions this fact more than our Commander in Chief, a leader who has dedicated his life to extending the reach of possibility to every American. On this historic occasion, I am honored to welcome the 46th President of the United States, our President, Joe Biden.