Photo by Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer

Amid the celebratory mood of the Coast Guard Academy’s commencement ceremony May 20, President Obama told cadets in his keynote speech that they hold a special distinction in America’s maritime history — one that means new dangers and responsibilities.

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Laura Buchta

The most challenging and tragic day of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts’ life began at 4:30 a.m. on July 13, 2008, with a round of explosions that left him seriously wounded and with no hope of a medical evacuation. Nearly losing his life, he emerged with unparalleled lessons and experience, which he shared in a May 16 commencement speech at his alma mater, the University of New Hampshire.

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