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South Florida military recruits embark on their next journey

Hundreds of high school graduates and their families gathered to salute the youth on their next endeavor: the U.S. Armed Forces.

Our Community Salutes of Miami-Dade County held the ceremony at Jungle Island to honor and support the families and mentors of the future service members as they embark on their careers in the military.

Brig. Gen. Hector Pagan, the former head of Special Operations Command South based in Homestead, candidly addressed the young recruits and their families on the expectations and challenges ahead.

“Your sons and daughters need you now more than they needed you ever before,” Pagan told parents. “But you will talk to your friends with pride when you tell them about your children’s service.”

At the end of the ceremony, Vice Admiral Joseph D. Kernan of the U.S. Navy, led 87 future Army soldiers, 95 future Marines, 21 future airmen and 84 future Navy sailors in the oath of service. Many will leave for training in the coming months.

Miguel Alejandro Alvarez, who is an Army recruit, was eager to start his training so that he could move forward with his plans to become an officer and eventually a pilot.

“I’ve always wanted to join the Army,” Alvarez said. “I have all the support I need.”

“He’s my only son, but it’s his decision,” said Alvarez’s mother Iliana Puerto. “But I’m so proud of him and so happy for him.”