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cadet blogs

March Madness…The Final Four

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Coracoran Photo While not being at the Coast Guard Academy for very long, I have experienced a plethora of unforgettable experiences that, if considered college basketball teams, would make it to the top four of my list.


In fourth place, I would put Swab Summer. While many cadets would not even consider putting Swab Summer on their list, I found our summer training program one which came with great reward when finished. Many imperative things were learned over the summer, some of which were essential to the Coast Guard, while others were lessons important to me. In the Coast Guard aspect, plenty of indoctrination was learned over the summer which will become essential to our careers in the fleet as junior officers. Additionally, we were taught how to wear a uniform properly, military etiquette, and of course, we enhanced our physical abilities. On the other hand, I discovered a lot about myself over the summer as well. For the first time, I learned what it was like to be away from Slatington, Pennsylvania being completely on my own, thus teaching me independence from my parents. I realized that I am not always going to be the best at everything I do, but that does not mean I should give up. Instead, it means that I have to try twice as hard as I ever did to succeed.


In third place would be getting to spend a week on USCG Tall Ship Eagle over the summer. Throughout Swab Summer, I did not really consider myself a part of the U.S. Coast Guard. I simply felt like…a swab. However, it finally hit me on our visit upon Eagle that I was indeed a member of the Coast Guard. People looked at me differently when I was in my tropical blue uniform; they seemed to hold more of a respect for me, which was very new for me. Some asked us to take pictures with their children, as if we were famous or heroes of some sort. It was very interesting, despite having a couple people ask me if there was a height requirement for the Coast Guard since I’m pretty short, and some asking me if there was a minimum age to enlist because they thought I was in the 15-16 year old range. :( Nevertheless, it was definitely a great experience overall.


101st Night/100th Day would be in a close second place for me. While 101st Night, which consisted of the fourth class acting like swabs getting asked indoctrination questions and having to do lots of physical activity, was very tiring, 100th Day was very rewarding. During 100th Day, the fourth class got to act like the second class for the day. This included being able to carry on, play music out loud, use our whiteboards, and even kind of tell the second class who were acting like fourth class what to do. It was nice to be able to continue conversations from outside into Chase Hall with our new found carry on. This day was an inspiration to all to study for boards so we can get carry on ASAP! Another thing I learned during this day was what it took to be a leader. I saw what it was like to try to get the “fourth class” to listen to what we were saying; some listened, while others did not. That’s one of the fundamental things to learn to be a great leader – how to get everyone, even the hard-headed ones, to listen to you and respect you.


Lastly, in first place I would place simply all of the friendships I have made since being here. To be honest, when I left home, I thought I would hate it here and never make friends like mine back home. And while I still talk to some from home, I mostly only talk to all of my new friends at the Academy. They truly understand everything I am going through because they are going through the exact same thing as me. We struggle together, we succeed together. We help each other out when things are rough. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve gotten mad at each other, but at the end of the day, we are always there for each other, for we are all here for one main reason – to serve the United States of America.


So there it is – my top four experiences at the Coast Guard Academy. While I don’t know much, if anything, about basketball, I do know that if it wasn’t for those experiences, the Academy would just not been as memorable for me.


More about Samantha.


Being So Tactical...

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo Without a doubt, I would say that the best parts of the Coast Guard Academy experience are the summers, when we can go out to the operational Coast Guard and serve on the front-lines. While Swab Summer was fun (in its own way), I enjoyed being in warm, sunny Texas more. During my 3/c summer, I spent five weeks at Station Port O’Connor, Texas. While there, two great things happened: I participated in a high-interest vessel (HIV) boarding, and received my OC (oleo capsicum, aka pepper spray) certification. The HIV boarding allowed me to see more of what role the Coast Guard has in maritime law enforcement and counterterrorism, while my pepper-spraying experience taught me just how much it hurts to be sprayed.


Within a week after my arrival in Port O’Connor, my station received orders from our controllers at Sector Corpus Christi to board a tanker vessel before it entered port. The vessel’s name appeared on Coast Guard watch lists because it had recently left Venezuela. So, we boarded our 41 foot utility boat (UTB) and headed out past the barrier islands to the deep-water anchorage to inspect this vessel. The boarding team was fully suited and armed for this evolution—it is better to be “Semper Paratus” than not. I was nervous because I saw all the crew carrying pistols and an M-16. Additionally, it was my first time wearing body armor!


The closer we got to the ship, the more nervous I became: the tanker was huge compared to our tiny boat, and the crew was armed, like they were expecting a pitched gun battle. Needless to say, my experience was NOT that dramatic. Once we climbed aboard, one team swept the ship, while the boarding officer, another crewman, and myself interviewed the ship’s officers and men in their lounge. We checked passports and tried to ascertain more information about the ship by talking to them; however, we ran into minor difficulties because half the crew was Filipino, the other half was Chinese, and none of them could speak English well! Trying to communicate with these men gave me a taste for what a future law enforcement career could be like. The conversation we had—about the haircut schedule at sea—was one of the most awkward I have ever had. I think the body armor and weapons intimidated the poor captain of the tanker.


I enjoyed the twenty minutes that I had aboard the tanker, shadowing Coast Guardsmen while they secured our maritime domain. Don’t worry: the ship was safe, and was allowed to enter port. After we disembarked, the boarding crew on my boat decided to chase down a fishing boat for inspection. Of course, we pick the one whose crew also doesn’t speak English. We only managed to stop them after cutting across their bow with our blue lights flashing! Once again, no discrepancies found. While it seems exciting, law enforcement is a lot of boring routine.


Being So Tactical...(Continued) PDF Icon  


More about Peter.