First lady Michelle Obama was at Coast Guard Island in Alameda Saturday at what was a wet and windy ceremony to formally commission the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton ship into active duty.
Along with Coast Guard officials, the first lady addressed a soaked and shivering crowd of a few hundred people as they huddled before the 418-foot ship. Obama even had some umbrella trouble before the ceremony (video).
The Cutter Stratton is named for Capt. Dorothy Stratton, director of the Coast Guard Women's Reserve during World War II. Stratton oversaw 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 commissioned officers, White House officials said.
Obama met with several Coast Guard women veterans who served with Stratton, including Elfie Larkin.
The eyes belonging to the 100-year-old Larkin have seen a lot in the past century.
Larkin was honored for her years of service to the U.S. Coast Guard. Many people are not surprised, including close friends like Adam Boskovic.
"Elfie is being recognized yet again because she is so special. She is the American dream. She is as good as it gets," Boskovic said.
Larkin is the oldest living member of that first group of women who joined the Coast Guard back in 1943. Her eyes light up when she talks about her work in the Coast Guard.
"I was a radio operator doing the Morse code, sending the message accepting them and decoding," Larkin said.
According to the ship's new captain, Charles Cashin, the Stratton will leave on its first deployment in six days.
The cutter ship is one of the largest and most technologically advanced of its kind and is replacing an outdated ship that was used as far back as the Vietnam War, according to the Coast Guard.
"We can't get these ships to our crews fast enough," Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, Jr. said in his brief speech.
The ship will likely begin its deployment in the Eastern Pacific with its current crew of 129, but it could also be called to places as far as the Bering Sea, South America, the Persian Gulf, or the African coast, Cashin said.
Here's a clip of Michelle Obama having a little umbrella trouble before the windy ceremony Saturday:
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