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Coast Guard Academy to honor first black grad

Coast Guard Academy to honor its first African-American graduate By The Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) ' The Coast Guard Academy is honoring its first African-American graduate at a ceremony this weekend in Connecticut.

Merle Smith graduated in 1966 and went on to command a patrol boat in Vietnam and teach law at the academy in New London.

Smith said in an interview that he has seen more diversity among the corps of cadets over the years, but the academy still has work to do to better reflect the face of America.

The academy has been getting pressure from Congress to boost the enrollment of minorities, particularly African-Americans. They account for roughly 5 percent of incoming cadets.

Smith is among five people who will be honored Sunday as part of an annual event, known as Eclipse Week. The event celebrates diversity at the academy.

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