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cadet blogs

My Tour on Bertholf

(Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Shih Photo It’s been about a year since I last wrote, but after someone on my ship discovered my blogs and kindly posted them all throughout the cutter, it reminded me that I should give an update on how my first tour is going. Suppo, I hope you’re reading this and playing the Rocky theme song while you do.

 

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I graduated and my swabs are about to become ensigns. I hope they have a great rest of their senior year…but the ones coming to the ship should probably get here as soon as possible.

 

Anyway, last patrol was pretty long, five months, but we did great as a ship and busted a bunch drugs. We had a quick in-port period and then we went up to Portland, Oregon for a dry dock. The ship was taken out of the water and put up on blocks, which was pretty cool to see. Oregon has great food, beer, and friendly people…not a bad place to be. I also was finally able to take a little bit of leave and visit the East Coast and see friends I hadn’t see for almost a year and a half. Jacksonville, Pensacola, Charleston, Boston, and New York – it was pretty sweet. After that it was all about preparing for Command Assessment for Readiness and Training (CART), which I won’t really go into but it’s not very fun and involves a lot of paperwork, inventory, and procurement requests. I’m glad that’s done. Luckily right after that, our ship got to go underway and conduct HELOSTAN (which is essentially ensuring we are ready to take on helicopters onboard our ship). HELOSTAN wasn’t as bad as CART…but now we have Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA), which is run by the same guys who did CART. TSTA is comprised of drills, drills, drills…shouldn’t be too bad…hopefully. From there it will be another patrol. However, there will be lots of San Diego time, which is always a good thing.

 

As my tour on Bertholf comes to a close I have a lot of mixed feelings. It definitely was rough at times as there is a lot of work and a lot to learn, but I did experience a great deal and met a lot of awesome people. The people were definitely my favorite part of the job. For those who decide to put in for a WMSL (Legend-class maritime security cutter), just know it’s a lot of days away from home port. Between patrols, school, and dry dock I would say I was only actually in Alameda seven months out of the 24. Lots of experience…not so much time in my own bed. But, if you want the most exposure possible to Coast Guard missions, put in for the Island.

 

If I am being honest, I don’t think I’ve had a more difficult period of time in my life than sailing on Bertholf (it could totally be a 1st tour thing I guess…but being a 4/c was much easier ). It’s been a roller coaster ride with a lot of different things, but when I step back I can see if this was the hardest I’ve had it, then I have it pretty good. I will say the Coast Guard has given me a lot, and I am grateful for it. This gig is a pretty good deal.

 

So my next job is on the Island by the way, three years working in Alameda, and living in the city. I’m pretty excited, working in the Command Center as a Law Enforcement Duty Officer (LEDO). It was#5 on my list this time I think, which is a big step up from #38 (or whatever it was last time). As always, let me know if you have any questions. Christen.C.Shih@uscg.mil. Take care!

 

More about Chris.

 

Serving Our Country

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Pourmonir Photo Liberty! Liberty! Liberty! The call you will hear on Eagle when liberty is being granted. Liberty is one of the coolest things because it means you are about to step foot into a city you never have before, and the first step you take off of the Eagle is the one that redefines you. As such, I am no longer going out as Keemiya Pourmonir. I am going out as a member of the United States Coast Guard. The weirdest experience is when someone calls me ma’am or thanks me for my service to our country.

 

My reaction? “What service? I have’t done anything yet?” But quickly I realized that choosing to serve is a service in itself. I still feel humbled at the mention of thanks and gratitude but I began to accept the idea that I have the opportunity to serve our country, that many don’t have the courage to accept. Liberty is going to restaurants, movies, and other community gatherings, but it is also giving the community a chance to get to know who we are and what we do as representatives of such a great service as the United States Coast Guard.

 

More about Keemiya.

 

On the Road

(Athletics, Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Chavarria-Aguilar Photo I have mentioned in previous blogs posts that I had the misfortune of dealing with an injury that forced me to quit rowing. As a result, I started shooting rifle – a much less impactful, easy on the body sport. In fact, it happens to be too easy and is not the kind of energy release I need. Rifle is beneficial in a good many ways, but it lacks the adrenaline pinching, muscle melting action that I was once a part of. Running, no matter how hard I try, has never been my thing (nor is it good for the injury I received). To this day, I have to watch what I do and be mindful of my body’s limits. This, as you can imagine, has been quite the nuisance. For a long time, I wasn’t getting the exercise that I needed and wanted. My typical afternoon workouts never ended with that endorphin “I think I am dead” sensation that I was so used to. This irked me, so I finally did something about it. I spoke with some folks on the triathlon team and soon found myself at the bike store picking out a sweet set of wheels. That day changed everything. I walked away with a hole in my wallet and my new best friend, a Trek Lexa SL road bike.

 

My experience with this bike is hard to compare. I have finally found the fix I need when it comes to exercise. Of course, I continue to do my morning swims and afternoon body weight workouts, but biking brings it all together. There is nothing like flying 20 mph down a flat stretch of road, leaning on the aero bars, feeling that burn in my legs. Hills are even better; the only pitfall is ignorant motorists. All in all, I couldn’t be more thankful for having found an exercise niche that suits my needs.

 

More about Alexis.

 

Memorization? Not Just for Indoc Anymore!

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo The Coast Guard Academy, while being a STEM school, also has a highly engaged and active Humanities Department. 4/c year, cadets are required to take an English class each semester. This semester, I’m in Honors Writing about Literature, in which cadets spend time composing, memorizing, and reciting a poem in front of the class. The prompt this year was to write about a significant moment in our lives, or a situation that took our emotions to different ends of the spectrum, and model that poem after one studied in class or on our own. In my poem, based on “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, I reflected on the influence of my dad, specifically his three-month deployment to Qatar with the Air Force, on my own military career.

 

Usually writing and reciting is all for the assignment; for myself and a few others, though, that recitation goes further, into a full-fledged competition. We participated in a 4/c Poetry Slam, performing our pieces for our classmates and Academy faculty. Poems compete in two categories, “Best Performance” and “Best Poem,” with a winner and an honorable mention for each. Some poems were very personal and poignant, perhaps relating the sickness or pain of a loved one; a couple went for a more humorous touch, for example, one that satirically demonstrated an obsession with social media! It’s a small-scale competition, but once again, an opportunity to perform for an audience and utilize our creative talents. All the poems were very well-written, with beautiful images and emotion underneath them. I had a blast presenting for the crowd, and hearing the unique poems my classmates had created!

 

I’m really hoping to take more English and creative writing classes later on at the Academy; I hadn’t realized how much writing means to me until I got here. There’s not a whole lot of writing required of cadets, especially for me as a science major; but, if you want to explore language more, there are plenty of opportunities for creative writing contests, publication in a student literary magazine, and so on. I never expected to get such a kick out of editing papers, and scribbling down the thoughts in my head. Just another way this place gets to you, I suppose…

 

More about Abby.

 

But Ma, I Don’t Want to Take Boards

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Doctolero Photo It’s that time of year again and I have never been so glad not to be a 4/c. Boards are coming up. The 4/c board is basically a 10 question “What fun facts do you know about the Coast Guard?” test. The thing that sucks is that the packet for the test is like 80 pages and you have no idea what they are going to ask so you have to study the whole thing. As a 3/c, I offer help but if the 4/c don’t want it, then the only real thing you have to do is take them to the exam and stand there and listen. Luckily for me my 4/c is self-sufficient so I just took him to the board and he passed on the first try. Yay me! Some kids take five or six tries to pass. This year the board was ridiculously easy. Compared to our exam, they basically spoon fed the answers.

 

On the bright side, spring break was awesome! It was my first time in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Unfortunately, I could have done without all the wind, but you can’t have it all. It’s a beautiful place, but it still doesn’t beat Miami. I live where others vacation; I’m proud of my city.

 

Anyway, now we are just waiting for all the other 4/c to pass boards so that they can get carry-on. And that means that our 3/c privileges are right around the corner. Woo-hoo civies and shorts! I can’t wait. And when I say shorts, I don’t mean an article of clothing in which people wear on the lower halves of their body to show off their legs. It means that you can sleep someplace other than Chase Hall on Saturday night. As boring as these things sound, it means a lot to you when you’re a cadet. They take away the basics and give them back one by one to make you think you’re getting something great. It’s kind of like taking one of your friend’s bracelets in January then giving it to her as a gift for her birthday in October. She had no idea she already owned it and is just happy to get a gift.

 

More about Rheanastasia.