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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

But It Won’t Be Long, ‘Til I Get on Back Home

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo Swab Summer was rough the first time around, but it was definitely even more difficult the second round as a cadre. After many weeks of preparation, I began my cadre experience on 20 July relieving my classmates who had been Cadre 1, or trainers for the first three weeks in this circumstance. After just three days, I had lost my voice from a combination of illness and loudly trying to direct the swabs and by the fourth day had to correct behaviors of some swabs with the voice of others. A week of rest at another training program came and went while the newest members of Delta Company sailed aboard the Eagle. When I made the trip up to Maine to meet the swabs for the return, I felt just as drained as when they had left. And somehow that feeling continued, that exhaustion, that fast pace, that cyclic behavior that some people can only describe as insanity.

 

The cadre experience was not without purpose however; I learned more about my personal leadership style in those three weeks than I have my entire cadet career. As cadre, like with my peers, I discovered that I struggle with public speaking even with positional power. I found out that even though I have different interests than my classmates, most of us came to the Academy for the same reasons and have the same goals in mind. And I learned that while I might not be able to form a perfect mentor/mentee relationship with every one of the 32 swabs in Delta, if they were willing to listen and I was a persistent teacher, I could pass on the skills others had taught me.

 

There were dozens of rewarding experiences sprinkled throughout cadre summer to offset the challenges, such as running to morning calisthenics in the dark with a flood warning in effect. Just a few were opportunities like running the PFE with a swab and being able to coach her alongside another cadre and her classmates – she ran the mile and a half nearly three minutes faster than the previous time. Then reassuring a swab to step off the high dive in the pool while treading in the water below with a lifeguarding tube – he jumped three times that morning. And showing the swabs of Delta how to retire the colors, particularly dress ship flags posted on the football field, as a team they ceremoniously lowered 26 signal flags on the Coast Guard’s birthday with my guidance.

 

Some cadre considered the summer simple. Being given positional power is a great tool and can lead to very effective transformation of behaviors. But to develop the swabs and truly instill the character traits of a Coast Guard officer required personal leadership for me. As the capstone event of the summer came to a close, I had the opportunity to lead some of the last cadences with my company. I chose an Army cadence “Get on Back Home” which I had learned before coming to the Academy and then again as a swab myself. It reminded me that the cadre experience was not simple for me, but well worth the journey to travel full circle and keep pushing until I get on back home.

 

More about Sarah.

 

A Reflection on the Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo As I am packing into my new room, in my new company, I cannot help but be amazed by how fast time has gone by. It feels like I had just begun my summer training.

 

I was on a fast response cutter (FRC) for the first five weeks of my training. It was my first real taste of the operational Coast Guard and it was unforgettable. I was given the opportunity to travel to new places like Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and St. Lucia. We worked hard to get our qualifications and made new friendships with the amazing crew of the CGC Charles Sexton. The missions of the FRC include drug and migrant interdiction as well as search and rescue. I was able to be a part of two drug chases and a rescue mission of a sinking cargo vessel. Firsthand experience with the missions of the Coast Guard was a great way to apply what I have been learning at the Academy as well as to learn new skills. After five weeks, I parted ways with the Charles Sexton and headed off to spend six weeks on the CGC Eagle for more training. I had a wonderful time on Eagle while I was there. I learned valuable lessons from the crew about leadership and followership. Unfortunately, I broke my foot on Eagle and was not able to complete that training. Instead, I was sent back to the Academy to finish out my training at station New London. So this summer I was able to experience all three third class summer possibilities because I was able to go on a cutter, spend time on Eagle, and go to a station. I find myself very fortunate to have had this opportunity to experience these varying environments.

 

Once on leave, I crammed as much adventure and fun with my family as I could. I went to the zoo and also went to Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida and the loggerhead turtle rehabilitation center in Palm Beach, Florida. I was able to recharge being around those I love and come back to the Academy prepared for another dynamic school year.

 

More about Sydney.

 

Summer 2014: From the Tropics to Southeast Alaska

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Duplessis Photo I was lucky enough to travel all over the country this summer, from New London to the Caribbean, the Caribbean to Alaska, and then home for leave. I can’t describe the number of lessons I’ve learned this summer, and how amazing each of my teachers has been. It was satisfying to finally get a good look into the fleet, and it’s made me look forward to finishing up my Academy experience and moving on to my actual career in the Coast Guard.

 

My first part of the summer was spent on Eagle, a training ship, as a division officer for seven 3/c cadets, as well as the deck logs coordinator. Although balancing trainings, work, and qualifications was challenging, I was able to complete my required qualifications and duties as well as get a feel for what life is like for a junior officer aboard a cutter (it is busy). We traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Aruba; Cozumel; and lastly to Miami. All of the ports were fantastic, and I would gladly travel to them again. The thing I really appreciate about being in the Coast Guard is that otherwise I might never have gotten the opportunity to travel to these places, especially in a five-week period or even a couple years.

 

For the second part of my summer, I flew to Sitka, Alaska, to spend six weeks aboard the CGC Maple, a 225-foot buoy tender. I had been interested in black-hulls for a while and wanted to form a better understanding of what their missions are and what life onboard is like. It was exponentially more interesting and demanding than I previously thought, and the crew was awesome. We went underway the day after I arrived to fix a discrepant navigational aid, and went on a 10-day underway trip to fix and set NOAA buoys (a bigger challenge than normal buoys because of their size and shape). Alaskan living was a different experience than I’m used to, but it was amazing nonetheless and I’d definitely go back again.

 

More about Lindsay.

 

Here Again?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Effendi Photo On the great WIX-327 yet another summer, but this time I chose to be there. I had a lot to debate before submitting my choices for my 2/c summer cadre slate. Should I put in for CGAS cadre because I was in the program years before? Should I go for Swab Summer cadre to breakdown the incoming Class of 2018? In the end I chose Eagle, and I had plenty reason to. Eagle gives cadets the best opportunity to prepare for the future.

 

In the preparation week for Eagle cadre, we utilize simulators to prepare for navigation team assignments and give navigation briefs to officers and classmates. On Eagle we have our own division, our own watches, and our own collaterals. Also we have the benefit of giving most swabs their first ever sea-going experience, while also teaching them many skills that they will need in the future. Not to mention that Eagle will be stopping in Bourne, Massachusetts during Sailfest and Rockland, Maine during Lobsterfest, but those are just added perks. Yes, this will be my third summer in a row being on Eagle but I know that this experience will aid in my development as a leader more than any other experience offered for 2/c summer.

 

More about Ardy.

 

Phase II, Headquarters’ Perspective

(The Cadet Experience, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Wu Photo After my first phase on a 210’ cutter out of St. Petersburg, I got the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. for an internship at Coast Guard headquarters. I did not know what to expect from the experience, but my six weeks in D.C. was eye-opening. A fellow classmate and I were the two cadets accepted for an internship with the finance office at headquarters. I really enjoyed the experience because it was very different from my time on a cutter. Not only was the lifestyle different since I went from having watches on the CGC Venturous to having a set work schedule, going into the office at 8 a.m. and getting off work at around 4 p.m., but we were given projects to analyze as interns and our recommendations were actually taken seriously and implemented. It was awesome seeing how we were able to contribute to the Coast Guard. More importantly, interning at headquarters was an amazing opportunity to meet other types of officers.

 

The Academy puts a huge emphasis on going on a cutter and they advertise a cutterman life more than any other career. It was interesting to learn about other career paths besides being on a boat. There were officers that came from grad school, officers that were social aids, and officers that were liaisons to other countries. It was also a privilege to help with multiple retirement ceremonies at headquarters since we got to hear about a whole career of a Coast Guard officer. All and all, the internship definitely gave me a different perspective on the Coast Guard. It was like a backstage pass to see the people providing all the support for the operational units.

 

My first phase gave me a good insight on how my ensign life will be since I will be putting in for cutters for my first tour. However, the second phase of my summer gave me a better idea of the possibilities for my future in the Coast Guard and how it does not necessarily have to be a cutterman’s life.

 

More about Ellie.