One thousand and six naval academy officers graduated Friday (5/27) as part of the Class of 2011.
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was the commencement speaker at closing exercises for the Naval Academy's graduating class.
The speech marked his final as Secretary of Defense. He congratulated the class of graduates saying they will face a different set of circumstances from their predecessors, pointing to a more positive outlook in Iraq, the diminished power of the Taliban and a world without Osama Bin Laden.
The graduates and attendees let out loud cheers and applause as Gates reminisced about waiting in the White House with other top officials, holding their breath while awaiting the outcome of the top secret mission to take out the mastermind of the 911 attacks. He likened it to sitting in a similar room years before, when a special mission was undertaken to free the Iran hostages. He noted the failure of that mission and the rejoicing around the world at the U.S. military's successful outcome this time round.
Gates said the young men and women in the military were like his own sons and daughters and getting emotional, he said his prayer for the Class of 2011 is to "serve with honor and come home safely."
One thousand and six students will graduate the Academy as this year's class.