CAPE MAY, N.J. – A 1986 graduate of Killeen High School, Texas, assumed command of one of the Coast Guard’s largest bases and the only enlisted basic training facility for the service Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Capt. Todd Prestidge, commanding officer of Training Center Cape May, relieved Capt. Bill Kelly during a ceremony with more than 200 people in attendance including numerous high-ranking Coast Guard officials and community leaders from the region. As commanding officer, Capt. Prestidge will be responsible for leading a recruit training program where more than 80 percent of the Coast Guard’s servicemembers started their careers.
“This is truly my dream job and the culmination of my career,” said Capt. Prestidge. “No other position in the Coast Guard allows you to have such a direct and lasting impact on the service as the commanding officer of Training Center Cape May.”
Rear Adm. Scott A. Buschman, the commander of Coast Guard Force Readiness Command in Norfolk, Va., presided over the ceremony and captured the impact Capt. Prestidge will have while in command of Training Center Cape May.
“The future of the Coast Guard starts at Training Center Cape May,” said Rear Adm. Buschman. “Capt. Prestidge will train the men and women of the world’s best Coast Guard who execute critical frontline Coast Guard missions to ensure the safety, security and stability of our Nation's maritime environment.”
Capt. Prestidge reports to Training Center Cape May from Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington where he served as the chief of the Office of Military Personnel for the service. He also has an extensive operational background having served on more than five Coast Guard cutters, including several as a commanding officer, conducting counter drug, migrant interdiction, search and rescue, and national defense missions.
“I’m humbled to have been selected for a position with such great responsibility, and I couldn’t have done it without the support and guidance of my loving family, friends and shipmates who’ve helped me every step of the way.”
Capt. Prestidge’s parents, Jim and Charlotte Prestidge, reside in San Antonio, Texas, and attended the change of command ceremony to support their son.
More than 80 percent of the Coast Guard’s workforce started their careers at Training Center Cape May, which is also Cape May County’s largest employer and will have an estimated economic impact of more than $250 million in 2013 alone. The Coast Guard is one of the most selective armed forces with only four percent of applicants chosen for enlisted service.