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cadet blogs

Port O’Connor, Texas

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo Hello to all my readers from a little fishing village on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) in Texas. I’m one week into my first phase summer assignment to Coast Guard Station Port O’Connor, Texas. And I’m glad to say that it’s turning out to be a lot better than I expected!


I stayed an extra week at the Academy for a crew regatta, namely ECACs. Staying in Chase Hall an extra week without carry-on was miserable; I would not go through it again. I think the worst part was knowing that all my friends out in the fleet were doing cool things and performing all kinds of Coast Guard missions. At ECACs, we did not do well. The crosswind was terrible, and it messed me up, both mentally and with my steering. In the petite finals, I drifted into the big, orange 500 meter buoy, and effectively stopped the boat. We recovered nicely after that, but still lost. At least I got to leave that weekend, after ECACs, for Texas. Flying to Texas was a daylong ordeal. I had three flights and two long layovers. At least US Airways bumped all uniformed personnel up to first class while flying into Houston! Finally, I arrived in the middle of nowhere to begin my five-week experience.


It has been a blast (so far). After checking in to my station, I got right to work. This summer, we are supposed to qualify as “communications watch-standers” and work on getting sign-offs for boat crewmember qualifications. “Communications watch-stander” (comms w/s) is a fancy way of saying you are qualified to operate the radio and respond to different scenarios on Channel 16, etc. My biggest mistake was saying “over AND out” at the end of transmissions. In the fleet, despite what you see on TV, “over and out” is a joke: “over” means that you want a response, and “out” means that you are done with the transmission. (Putting the two together cancels them out, and you look like an idiot.) Breaking in as comms w/s is really boring, because you have to get sign-offs on different qualification standards while standing four-hour watches. Even though it’s boring, you never know when you are going to get a distress call over the radio. (There have been a few close calls while I stood watch…)


In addition to comms w/s, we are supposed to be working on boat crewmember qualifications as well. Here in Port O’Connor, the station’s assets include a 41-foot UTB, three 25-foot Defender-class RBS, and a 24-foot shallow-water boat. Getting underway (u/w) on these boats is a lot of fun, but also requires a lot of work. So far, I’ve seen a little bit of what these boats can do. One night, we did helicopter operations (helo ops) out on the training flats. It was cool to see how the helo dropped the basket to the boat, especially when it was pitch-black out. On another day, I went along with a boarding team to observe a high-interest vessel (HIV) boarding. The ship we boarded had recently visited a rather unfriendly country; when we boarded, we swept the vessel for any threats and checked all the crew’s passports. For safety, I stayed with the boarding officer and checked logs and passports. It was still pretty cool. My goal is to get u/w at least once a day, so I can start getting sign-offs for boat crew.


The next few weeks will be busy, but I’ll make sure to have lots of fun. During that time, I will be out of touch, but don’t hesitate to ask questions of anyone as 2016 gets ready for Swab Summer. For those of you lucky to get appointments, I would highly recommend running at least twice a day (especially when it is hot) and drinking lots of water. I hope you all know the mission like the back of your hand. Good luck, and see you when the Corps returns in August!!


More about Peter.



(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Chavarria-Aguilar Photo So, I've unfortunately learned yet another lesson the hard way, and as the end of the semester approaches ever so quickly, I am struggling to get my grades where I want them. In all honesty, this semester has been one heck of a ride with many ups and plenty of downs. I like to describe my spring finals as something of a blur, which usually happens when everything starts to run together. I just hope I did well enough to reach my own goals. There is no doubt that our academics are challenging, and it can sometimes be easy to settle for mediocrity; however, I try to maintain a high standard for myself. Unfortunately, I now have to teach myself to accept the fact that I may not have reached that standard this time around, but that everything will be okay nonetheless. I urge whoever is reading this to do the same. Learn from your failures and aim to improve next time. If you do not get an appointment, but still wish to attend the Academy, keep working for it. Your perseverance will pay off in the end.


On a completely different note (a much lighter one at that), the crew team did a fantastic job at the New England Championships. I'm proud of everyone, especially the novice ladies of Emerson. We had a fantastic season as the tiniest crew Coast Guard has ever witnessed; congratulations to everyone. I'm looking forward to tearing up the Thames again next season!


With my fourth class year nearly behind me, I have much to look forward to here. It is difficult to describe how arduous this year has been, and they often say fourth class year is the hardest. However, I sometimes get the feeling that phrase is only true in certain aspects. I guess we will have to wait and see.


More about Alexis.