COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4/AP) – United States Vice President Mike Pence landed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs on Saturday morning. He’s in town to speak at the Air Force Academy graduation.

Pence arrived at around 10 a.m. CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd is there to cover the event.

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The vice president was greeted by several dignitaries including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis who wore a facial covering.

Making only his second trip outside Washington in the last six weeks, Pence will be speaking at a scaled-down ceremony in Colorado Springs. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony is closed to family and friends.

White House aides said Pence on Monday made the call himself to make the trip as the White House was finalizing its guidelines for reopening American again.

Vice President Mike Pence (credit: CBS)

“You did it, class of 2020,” he told the cadets.

Included in the graduating class were the first officers of the U.S. Space Force.

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“Thanks to the president’s leadership, NASA just announced that next month American astronauts will return to space on American rockets from American soil, and some of you maybe flying those rockets,” Pence said.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2020 Air Force Academy Graduation

The vice president noted the abnormality of not having friends and family cheering the cadets on from the stands.

(credit: CBS)

“I was told on the way here 51 of you have family who are already Air Force Academy graduates,” he said. “Your families couldn’t be here because of the extraordinary times in which we live, but we know they’re watching from afar, and they couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of you.”

“For long after the coronavirus is defeated, your mission will go on.”

Colorado Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet shared their congratulations with the class.

 

Following the ceremony, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed the traditional flyover over the class. 

 

The cadets marched 6 feet apart and were seated 8 feet apart for the ceremony to maintain the recommended social distancing. The ceremony will last about 30 to 40 minutes and the ceremony will take place in the Terrazo instead of the stadium.

President Donald Trump delivered the commencement address in 2019.

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)