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cadet blogs

Greetings from the USCG Fleet!

(Just for Fun, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Belanger Photo So, I have not written as blog since right before I graduated so I thought I would send in a quick little message. It has been quite a journey since graduation. Well, I got stationed in Kodiak, Alaska. It defiantly wasn’t my top choice due to the fact that I am a Florida boy, but while we were in port over the summer I got to explore the island and take in all of its beauty. I really enjoyed all of the hikes and fishing that I got to do over the three months I was in Kodiak. We left for dry dock in the middle of August and that is when my journey began. I arrived in Seattle at the end of August and from there I went on a temporary assigned duty (TAD) to the CGC Seneca out of Boston.

 

It was a great experience sailing back in the warmth of the Caribbean with a brief stop in Roatan, Honduras. Honestly, you think Honduras and immediately disregard it but it was one of the best islands that I have ever visited. It was friendly, reasonably priced, and beautiful. It is home to one of the largest reefs in the world and from most spots you can just walk into the water from the beach and swim to them.

 

After that tour wrapped up in the beginning of September, I had the opportunity to go back to the Academy and help out in the Nautical Science department on the training vessels that the cadets train on. I was there for two weeks working with the instructors and 2/c and it was a blast. Honestly, I was hesitant at first but it provided me with the opportunity to not only catch up with friends but also get better at thinking further ahead when driving a ship. I really owe a great deal of thanks to CDR Mike Turdo and his team in the Naut Sci department for accommodating me for those two weeks.

 

From there I travelled down to Charleston, South Carolina to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to begin boarding officer school. I honestly have to say it was the best time I have had in the Coast Guard so far. This training provides boarding team members with the opportunity to learn more about Coast Guard and U.S. policy when conducting boardings in the high seas and in U.S. waters. We had liberty on the weekends to explore the area. It was great working with other classmates and enlisted members from different parts of the country and getting to know each and every one of them.

 

From there I flew back to Seattle where Munro was still dry dock for a short week and I was off again (TAD) to the CGC Legare. I honestly have to say that I enjoyed every moment on board. We conducted fishery patrols and I got to experience a .50 caliber shoot along with a MK-75 shoot (that’s the big gun on front of a 270’). We also got to conduct helicopter operations and a large number of small boat operations. It was truly rewarding. I got to finish a lot of my progress on board in regard to my underway deckwatch officer qualification. I also got to catch up with my classmates that were also on board.

 

You think this would end my adventure, but it doesn’t! At the beginning of January, I flew from the Legare on a MH-60 inbound for Myrtle Beach. After spending a day in Myrtle Beach I flew up to Norfolk, Virginia. My flight wasn’t scheduled until later in the week so it gave me a few days in Virginia, an area that has a large Coast Guard presence. I was able to catch up with a few friends, along with my academic advisor and professor from the Academy. I departed at 0300 on a Friday inbound for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where I met up with yet another 270’ from Virginia. As of right now I am currently underway on the CGC Forward with yet more classmates! We have had an exciting patrol so far and have had a busy schedule. My classmates on board are all studying for their boards (which is a test) for their deck watch officer letter. I am close to having mine as well so it has been great studying with them!

 

Since graduation I have travelled over 10,000 miles and have had the opportunity to meet up with tons of classmates all over the East Coast. It has been quite a trip so far, but I am ready to head back to my ship. Hopefully, that will happen soon—but in the life of a junior officer, you never know!

 

If you have any questions regarding the academy or life as a Coast Guard junior officer, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at Nathan.D.Belanger@uscg.mil!

 

More about Nathan.

 

Lasts and Firsts, Same Inspiration

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo This semester is filled with many lasts. We have our last PFEs, the last first day of school, the last set of classes, the last cadet assignments, the last spring break. It is also a semester of many firsts. We have submitted our first list of preferred billets, our first permanent change of station, and the first time that we will go into the Coast Guard as officers. It was surreal submitting my billet list, and coming to the realization of how close graduation actually is. It’s crazy to think how slow but yet how fast time has flown by here at the Academy. I am excited to see what the future brings, yet I am still making sure to enjoy the present—like passing my last PFE of all time!

 

This semester I am back on Regimental Staff, serving this time as the Regimental Chief of Staff. This means that I am the supervisor of the planning staff and affinity councils, and I serve as third in the cadet chain of command. It is a lot of work, but it is fulfilling to have the Commandant of Cadets’ ear on many issues facing cadets, and to stand up for what is right. What motivates me to wake up in the morning are the underclassmen that also get up every day to face their many firsts that they are experiencing. Despite the newness of their routines, difficult general education classes, and coming back from that first big break of their Academy experience, they too wake up each day unfazed and eager to face the day. Serving them as their leader motivates me, because if they are able to do it, so should I.

 

More about William.

 

Bears Baseball

(Athletics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Cannon Photo As baseball season quickly approaches one final time, I think it is good to look back on the things I have learned as a pitcher on the Bears baseball team. Three big takeaways come to mind when I think of the countless hours I have spent with this tight-knit group of guys, and it just may surprise you.

 

First of all, always come prepared with snacks. More specifically, bring snacks for the bullpen to enjoy. This duty usually falls on the freshmen pitchers on cold days out in the bullpen. Snacks include: Dots, Goldfish, chips and dip, and potentially pizza on a few occasions. The options are endless, but this always helps pass the time when the wind chill is well below freezing.

 

Second, your teammates are your boys. When I look at my class, we have not lost any recruited players due to one key factor: sticking together. We help each other stay out of trouble, and we develop bonds through trips like the one to Fort Myers Beach, Florida during spring break.

 

Third, you need to have thick skin in order to survive on a college baseball team. We roast each other on a constant basis, and the jokes toward each other are endless. At the end of the day, I will be a better officer from my experiences on this team. While we do enjoy giving each other a hard time, you will not find a closer group of guys on campus.

 

More about Colton.

 

A Whole Semester

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Farlow Photo I can’t believe it has been a whole semester since the end of Swab Summer and now I sit anxiously waiting to start my second semester with new classes and new challenges. Now that my classmates and I have figured out how to be fourth class, we must start thinking about passing boards and becoming third class. We will also find out where our summer assignments will be and what company we will be moved to for the remainder of our cadet careers. This semester will bring a new set of challenges, but in the end rewards, and together as a class we will make it.

 

On a side note, being from Texas I have seen very little snow in my life and the first weekend back from winter leave we got almost 6 inches of snow and it was one of the craziest things I have ever experienced. The last time I had seen snow was when I visited the Academy as a senior in high school almost a year ago, and decided to make this place my home for the next four years. With first semester and Swab Summer behind me, I know I made the right choice. I really struggled to make a decision on where to attend college and after returning from winter leave and gearing up for second semester, I could not be happier with my decision.

 

Go Bears!

 

More about Francesca.