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cadet blogs

Admiration and Faith in my Shipmates and Service

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Gurtler Photo Aaaaaaaand we’re back! Given my hectic schedule this past semester, I have not had an opportunity to post a blog in quite some time. But fear not! You are just in time for a crash course in everything that I have experienced since getting those blue shields!


In mid May, I became the Hotel Company Commander during the end of the year Change of Watch Ceremony. No more than 24 hours after pinning on my four stripes, I was on a flight to my first assignment of the summer: five weeks aboard the USCGC Sturgeon out of Grand Isle, Louisiana. Championed a “mighty warship” by its crew, Sturgeon is an 87’ patrol boat that has a variety of missions throughout the Gulf of Mexico. While onboard the Sturgeon, I had the opportunity to drive the cutter on my own, earn my qualification to carry OC spray (not a pleasant experience, trust me), train with the Marine Safety Response Team (MSRT- essentially, the Coast Guard equivalent to Navy Seals), board recreation and shrimping boats, and manage various collaterals that a junior officer would be assigned. I also acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge from my Commanding Officer. At 25 years old, LTJG Burke is tasked with being the Captain of a multi-million dollar Coast Guard asset. That’s pretty darn incredible! Mr. Burke taught me a great deal about ship handling and leadership through empowerment. In the time I got away from the ship, I even managed to experience New Orleans. Proud to say I can eat crawfish like a true Southerner – heads and all!


After my time in Grand Isle, I spent a week of leave in Miami. There I met my family to bid adieu to my brother as he boarded the USCGC Eagle for his 3/c summer cruise. While in Florida, my parents and I visited Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.


But vacation couldn’t last long – there was work that needed to be done back at the Academy. The Swabs arrived in early July and I was whisked into the duties and responsibilities of a company commander. This experience was undeniably the most rewarding leadership role I have ever experienced. I was directly responsible for leading and overseeing the growth and development of 20 2/c cadre as they indoctrinated 32 recent high school graduates into the United States military. How many 21 year olds can say that? While we did not earn Honor Company for the 2014 Swab Summer training period, we were still the best company (at least in my opinion, but I may be a little biased)!


After seven weeks of tremendous responsibility, the rest of the corps promptly arrived in August, eager to meet the Class of 2018 and ready to start a new academic semester. The fall Change of Watch Ceremony was held and I passed on my responsibilities as the company commander pinning on my one strip 1/c shoulder boards. I was ready to fulfill my duty as a division head within my company.


This past semester has deniably been my favorite. I received my highest term GPA, highest physical fitness exam score, single handedly organized the ‘Dress for Success’ event for the junior class, performed at the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum in San Francisco, California, in addition to numerous other performances in New York City and in the greater New England area, and I earned a leading role in the cadet musical. While on leave in December, I was notified that five of my classmates and I have been selected to compete and represent the USCGA in the ‘International Law of Armed Conflict Competition’ in San Remo, Italy this upcoming March from our success in the Coast Guard Academy’s International Law Class.


This semester also reiterated my admiration and faith in my shipmates and service. My friends and classmates are literally some of the greatest people I know and I am beyond excited to start our final semester together. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished as a team thus far and am anxious to see where our future careers lead us – especially as we are in the process of authoring our first station requests form. It’s undeniable, odd class years have it going on.


Go Bears! Go 2015!


More about Victoria.