Skip Navigation Links
FacebookFlickrTwitterYou Tube

cadet blogs

2/c Summer Part 2: Recommitment, Cadre Moving On and Memorial Day

 Permanent link
Ritchie PhotoReflecting on Recommitment


At the end of 100th Week, the Class of 2017 had our Recommitment Ceremony where we once again took the oath we had taken on R-Day, changed our shoulder boards, and received the privilege to wear civilian clothes. Since the ceremony was delayed and I had a plane to catch, I had a mini-ceremony of my own. Because of this, I ended up being the first one in my class to be promoted to 2/c, the first one to wear civvies in Chase Hall, and the first one to go on leave for the summer. You’d think I would be really excited about this but I found myself unhappy. I was disappointed that I could not stand with my class and renew the oath with them. They say that in the military, you sometimes have to sacrifice being at important events. I didn’t realize that it went both ways. The Coast Guard family really watches out for you and will try to work with you in making plans, especially when getting home to family.


Our Cadre Graduated?! 


Having the first three weeks of leave meant that I wasn’t at the Academy for Commencement. The great Class of 2015 graduated in May. Graduation from an academy means so much more than graduating from any other college. Each member of the Class of 2015 not only received a diploma but also a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard and a handshake from President Obama. It’s a pretty big deal.


Why was this graduation so important to me? The Class of 2015 is my cadre class. They were responsible for training my class. We followed them from the beginning of our experience and now we have to be the leaders that they were to us. The Class of 2015 has left my class huge shoes to fill. When we graduate, we will continue to follow them by taking their places as they will move onto their next units.


It is a reminder that my class is halfway through our Academy experience and of the great responsibility we will have beginning this summer. It poses the question, “Are we ready?”


I think we are.


The Meaning of Memorial Day 


For Memorial Day weekend, I took a road trip to Kansas with my dad. There is a famous attraction in Wichita called the Keeper of the Plains. If you walk over the bridge there, you’ll find a memorial park. It was the perfect thing to run into on the day before Memorial Day.


Nowadays, so many people celebrate Memorial Day by hosting backyard barbeques or going shopping. People forget what Memorial Day is really about. It is about remembering those who gave their lives in serving our country. It is for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. There is a great poem titled “Freedom is not Free.” I challenge you to look it up. That is what Memorial Day is about.


Memorial Day is not about the people who serve today, though we may serve in honor of the true honorees. It is not a day to praise veterans and survivors but to mourn with them over their shipmates lost. It is a day to stand beside the families of those who have lost someone for the sake of our country and hear the stories that they carry on.


I stood with my dad looking at a memorial as a lady came and placed a rose on it. She started crying and we knew she had lost someone whose name was etched there. It was such a beautiful and sad moment. I didn’t know what to do. Part of me wanted to give her a hug but I knew I could never understand her loss. I decided to continue looking at the memorial, avoid eye contact, and give her space. A minute later, she came up to us and told us she had lost her brother in Afghanistan a few years ago. The memorial included the war on terrorism as an ongoing fight. It was the most powerful memorial I have ever visited.


Moments like that make it real. Moments like that remind me of why I serve. I serve to protect my country and am so proud to be part of something bigger than myself. I want to save lives and solve problems peacefully. There is no better way to do that than by serving in the Coast Guard.


When you thank me for my service, I know you’re not just thanking me. Because I am part of something so much bigger than myself, I represent the soldiers stationed all over the world and those who have lost their lives fighting. You are thanking all of those people when you say thank you to a serviceman or woman. Even though we may never meet them or have the chance to convey that message, it is a reminder that we proudly serve beside them and we honor them in our service.


More about Sarah.


Land of Opportunity

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo “I’m sailing away, to a land of opportunity…” are the lyrics I sometime hear when aboard the USCGC Eagle for our five weeks of summer training. Other times, I can barely distinguish the howling winds of the sea from the blood rushing in my ears after standing a midnight watch. I don’t even know how to begin describing Eagle. Most of us lovingly call it the “Dirty Bird.” This is because it can get pretty gross when you have nine hardworking people living in a small room with a broken A/C unit. However, this is all irrelevant compared to the things you get to do on this boat.


Climbing up to the very tops of the masts and being able to see the Milky Way, waking up for morning duty and watching the sunrise, finding you are totally focused on what you have to do and learning about yourself in little increments to the point where you almost lose perception of time makes it all worthwhile. Eagle has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes while on board but I think I’m a better person because of it. We have one more week to go until phase change in Staten Island, New York, and nine more days until I ship off to the USCGC Mellon!


More about Olivia.


One is Silver and the Other’s Gold

 Permanent link
Culp Photo For me, coming home from the Academy for leave means coming home to an onslaught of family members, old friends and dogs. During my few weeks back in Nebraska, I wound up seeing everyone from church members to high school friends to future cadets and their families (shout-out to all the Cornhuskers who apparently read my blog religiously, by the way – you’re awesome!). Just like it’s the people at the Academy who make that experience special, it’s these people on the home field that make leave something that I look forward to every year.


However, it is very challenging to maintain any sort of long-distance friendship. I stayed close to about four high school friends after I started at the Academy. Getting Facebook back 3/c year helped a little, but still, I wound up letting go of a lot of friendships. As a cadet, you just don’t have the time when you have so much homework and military responsibilities, varsity sports, and, of course, all of the new and wonderful relationships demanding your attention.


I don’t write this to make you apprehensive or to recommend that you ignore all of your high school friends (please, please, please don’t do that!) but to show you the hope behind the reality. I don’t get as much time as I’d like to talk to my handful of closest high school friends during the academic semester, thanks to the aforementioned demands; and with jobs and classes and families back home, my friends are engaged in difficult and time-consuming balancing acts as well. But, with these girls, even just the quickest text or carving out one hour for a phone call every couple of months keeps our friendship strong. And then, when I come back home each winter and summer, we pick right up where we left off – of course, there’s always a quick update about whatever happened that semester and then it’s off to our next adventure in the wild Midwest! So, you might not ever be as close as you once were and you might unfortunately stop talking to some people completely but chances are you’ll find that your best friends stay close to you – just in a different way. And then they become one of the best things about home.


I encourage all of you prospective cadets (especially Class of 2019 – R-Day is in less than a week! Gasp!) to start thinking about what your friends mean to you. Think about the support they’ve shown you, the excitement they had when you decided to leave home for the Academy, and the good times you had with them. Be prepared for loss – it comes with the appointment – but also be grateful for those people who love you and will be there to welcome you home. You’ll come to realize even more acutely than you did before just how integral those few people are to your life.


More about Abby.


Awesome Summer Adventures

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Coburn Photo I cannot believe that it has been almost one year since I arrived at the Academy for R-Day last June. The time has really flown by and I am learning so much about the Coast Guard each and every day. Right now, I am on South Padre Island, Texas at a small boat station with another cadet. So far, this experience has been awesome. At first I was a little nervous but the crew has been very welcoming. They are always helping us and teaching us new seamanship skills. South Padre is one of the busiest stations in the country; not only have we been able to see how the Coast Guard works during real search and rescue missions, but we have actually been able to participate and it is incredible.


The weather down here is amazing. It has not dropped below 80 since we arrived and the beaches are great. We are allowed to go out and explore the island and, since it is so small, almost everything is within walking distance. We are at the station for two more weeks and then we will be flying back to New London to board Eagle. On Eagle, we will be travelling down to Philadelphia for the Tall Boat Show, which will be really cool, and then we will be cruising down to Bermuda (I am really excited for that part). It is going to be a lot of work but most of my friends are going to be on the same phase so I will be able to see them all again! Toward the end of July, we will end the voyage in Boston and then I will go home for three weeks of leave. On August 16th, I will report back to the Academy for my 3rd class year. I cannot wait to be part of Charlie Company and meet the new 4th class. To all of you soon-to-be-swabs out there: good luck this summer, have fun and try not to worry too much. Y’all will do great!


More about Mimi.


Life in Texas

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Auzenbergs Photo Life in Texas We are already three weeks into summer training and I cannot believe how much we have learned! I’m at Station Port Aransas in Texas with three other now-3/c cadets and we’re working on earning our Communications Watchstander qualification. Earning that would allow us to answer the radios and phones for distress calls or general calls from anyone that may need assistance and stand watch for the station. Though it may seem straightforward, there is a lot that goes into this job such as knowing the proper way to respond to a search and rescue mission, bomb threat, overdue vessel, or just how and when to check on any of the vessels that may be underway. To me, the biggest part that went into preparing for this qualification was learning the AOR or area of responsibility. The station has a large map that spans their entire AOR and each member who is comms qualified must be familiar with all the bays, channels, fueling stations, islands, peninsulas and more. It’s pretty difficult when you are brand new to the area like us, but I realized how important it is when I got a call from a woman trying to explain where she was stuck based off her surroundings because, without that knowledge, I would not have been able to help her!


Beside what we do at the station, we are able to get off work and go into town, which is a blast. We go to the beach, out to dinner, ride our bikes around town, shop, and explore the nature trails. This afternoon we are getting ready to go parasailing! It has been a great experience so far and I’m going to be sad when these last two weeks are over… but then it’s on to Eagle for six more.


More about Gabrielle.