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More than 300 military recruits kicked off Memorial Day weekend Friday by swearing their oath of enlistment at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami in Opa-Locka.
As their families and friends looked on, the recruits — representing every military branch — held their right hands up and repeated the words of Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard. They promised to uphold the U.S. Constitution, to defend the country against “all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and to follow the orders of the president and their commanding officers.
“Welcome to the United States military,” Rice said. “May your adventure begin.”
The enlistment ceremony also served as a kick-off event for the 2019 Hyundai Air & Sea Show, a two-day military celebration in Miami Beach that will feature military demonstrations and a concert on Saturday and Sunday.
Outside the military hangar where the ceremony took place, parked Hyundai display cars were overshadowed by a fleet of military aircraft stationed nearby, including the Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey; the red-tailed, World War II-era P-51C Mustang “Tuskegee Airmen”; and the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning.
Hyundai executives and political leaders spoke favorably about the three-year relationship between the National Salute to America’s Heroes celebration, Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach.
“Our city loves this event,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said. “We host a lot of things in South Beach. Some things we love.”
The Air & Sea Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on Ocean Drive between 11th and 14th streets. Sunday night’s festivities will be capped off by an 8 p.m. Flo Rida concert and fireworks at 9 p.m. The event is free to attend, but tickets to watch the show from a VIP section and enjoy drinks and BBQ cost between $25 and $65.
Beachgoers in Miami received a sneak peek of the military demonstrations Friday when a pack of Blue Angels — the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron — flew their Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets along the coast of Miami Beach.
The CV-22 Osprey, a hybrid aircraft that can land and take off like a helicopter while flying like an airplane, was also spotted along the beach, according to videos posted to social media Friday.
Those planning to enjoy the long weekend at the beach are in for mostly sunny and warm weather on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
But meteorologists have warned there is a high risk of rip currents in Atlantic waters, including Miami Beach, through Memorial Day, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.
Squally weather from subtropical storm Alberto in 2018 forced the Air & Sea Show to cancel its water demonstrations and delay the start of its aerial acrobatics. Organizers also canceled a Shaggy concert due to the storm.
Following Friday’s ceremony, recruits and their families posed for photos near the displayed aircraft parked on an airport ramp beside the hangar. The recruits will undergo basic training before pursuing their specific areas of interest.
Gelber said it was “appropriate” that the military demonstrations take place in South Florida, where “freedom isn’t taken for granted” because the area’s melting-pot population is made up of immigrants from countries run by authoritarian leaders, like Venezuela and Cuba.
Garrett Scarborough, 22, of Titusville, said he wants to become an Air Force Pararescue specialist, or PJ, who are responsible for rescuing and treating downed service members all over the world.
He said joining his fellow recruits in the enlistment oath made him feel proud. He wants to serve in the Air Force to help people who need it, he said.
“Definitely a big sense of pride,” he said. “Today was a special day.”
Scarborough said the deaths of Air Force Reserve pararescuemen Master Sgt. William Posch, 36 and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis, 31, in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2018 served as a powerful motivation for him to continue pursuing a career in the military.
“I went to be the best that I can to help people,” he said. “Pararescuemen are some of the best in the world at helping people.”