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Do You Believe in Miracles?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Wowtschuk Photo Hello, Shipmates! Well, it is official, I can dodge bullets. Tomorrow I am changing my name to Thomas Anderson (you can call me Neo), and putting in for a billet on the Nebuchadnezzar (just look up the reference people; I don’t have time to explain). All joking aside, somehow I graduated and have received what only a few select individuals in history have had the privilege to receive, a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the United States Coast Guard Academy. No matter how hard they try, they can never take that away from me. Oh yeah, I was also handed some sort of letter that says something about officers and the Coast Guard and commissioning or something, I’m not really sure what it is, but I’m not going to worry about it, it’s probably nothing.

 

This blog was almost never written, it has now been a few weeks since graduation and my motivation to write a blog about the Academy, for the purposes of promoting the Academy (fo’ free) has been waning. Luckily for you all, I was inspired the other day, partly by the crack of my editor’s whip and partly by the kind words of a German artist.

 

It was halfway through a flight back from let’s say Not Europe, when I decided to start up a conversation with the man sitting to my right. He was a large man, average height but radially challenged and tended to use his own stomach as a substitute for the provided food tray. He wore a grey skull cap on his head, out from which protruded flowing unkempt white hair that came down to just above his shoulders. His face was tired looking, with a deeply set pair of fierce blue eyes, a broad nose, and a white goatee with hairs stretching well below the chin line. He wore an old embroidered vest which revealed skinny white arms covered in an array of colorful flowers, sparrows and doves. His voice was part Mike Tyson, part Truman Capote, and part Hugo Stiglitz. He told me about the art work he was working on, inspired by the Euro Cup; he was covering soccer balls in paint and kicking them at a large blank canvas (Michelangelo would be proud). Although this man and I had nothing in common, I felt a deep connection with him. I thought to myself, “If this man can dedicate his life to terrible art, I can dedicate an hour of my time to an amazing blog.”

 

It has now been several days since that flight, and in about three hours I will begin my drive out to Seattle, my first ship, and my new life. I am not exactly sure what to expect, but if the Academy has taught me anything it is that I can expect to find competent, hardworking, and selfless people wherever I go.

 

Fun Facts:

  1. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t see: Frankfurt, Nuremburg, Prague, Vienna, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Naples, Pompeii, and Rome in twelve days.
  2. Frankfurt has the world’s best cabarets
  3. Red plastic cups are not sold in the Czech Republic
  4. McDonalds in Vienna do not provide ketchup
  5. Wedding rings are worn on the RIGHT hand in Serbia
  6. Italians love 1980s fashion
  7. And, evidently, Rome was NOT built in a day

 

More about Bo.

 

Farewell, Texas!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo So here I am: my last week in south Texas. It’s hard to believe that I’ll be leaving on Friday for the second phase of my summer training. These past five weeks here have taught me lots about enlisted life, how to handle small boats, and what the Coast Guard does beyond search and rescue (SAR).

 

Since I’ve last written, I’ve participated in several interesting patrols, and some not so interesting ones. Instead of talking about that, I’ll talk about the other aspects of the Coast Guard that I’ve been privileged to experience. The Executive Petty Officer (XPO) arranged for us to see the Marine Safety side of the Coast Guard. We went to Marine Safety Detachment (MSD) Victoria, Texas, to shadow their personnel there. In my opinion, the marine safety field is very boring. They inspect marine casualties and vessels and facilities to make sure that they don’t pollute our waterways. It involves lots of paperwork and checking grimy corners for leaks. In my opinion, not for me.

 

A much better experience for me was my time with Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) at Port O’Connor. The Aids to Navigation (AToN) mission appeals to me: I love how precise it is, the nice hours, and the hands-on experience you get every day. During my two days with the ANT, I did more things than I had done for several weeks here at the station. Placing buoys and correcting off-station buoys was a lot of fun. After my brief experience with the ANT, I am going to look more at getting on an AToN cutter for my firstie summer assignment, or my first billet.

 

In addition to seeing other sides of the Coast Guard, I successfully qualified as a communications watchstander. In essence, I stand watch for four hours at a time, listening to various radios in case someone calls “MAYDAY.” This station isn’t too busy SAR-wise, but we do a lot of law enforcement work to make up for that. In fact, in my five weeks here, I have only heard the SAR alarm sound twice. Some of the cases I’ve seen have been interesting: lots of disabled boats needing assistance. What else have I done here?

 

The highlight of my time here has been my OC exposure. I’m not sure how much I can talk about it, but needless to say, it hurt. A lot. You need to be sprayed to carry OC as a boarding team member or officer, but you only need to do it once. It was extremely painful; they say that fair-skinned individuals react the worst, and I can believe it. One of my friends described it as “the devil peeing in your eyes.” You can’t see anything and have the hardest time doing simple tasks. I’m just glad it’s over.

 

And just like pepper-spraying, my time in South Texas is over.

 

More about Peter.