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cadet blogs

Firstie Summer on Eagle

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Keith Photo Thesis: Eagle was an incredible experience that let me have fun with my friends while at the same time gaining professional development.


Ahoy Shipmates!


I hope everyone has been having a fantastic summer, especially for those of you who will soon be reporting to the Academy as swabs and members of the Class of 2017. (Now that’s weird to think about). My quick tips for success for all of the future swabs:

  1. Bring liquid soap.
  2. Wear a t-shirt, shorts, running shoes, and just bring a backpack when you report in.
  3. Try not to stick out; just fly under the radar and work hard in everything you do.

While the Class of 2017 has been nervously waiting for R-Day for the past few weeks, and the Class of 2015 has been preparing for said day, 22 of my classmates and I have continued training the Class of 2016 aboard Coast Guard Barque Eagle.


There were several reasons I put in for Eagle for half of my first class summer, but continuing that relationship with 2016 was chief among them. Last summer I was a waterfront cadre and taught them how to sail dinghys as well as basic military indoctrination. I wanted to see their continued development and transition into 3/c cadets as well as assist them throughout their Blue Water Experience that the Barque offers Coast Guard Academy cadets. Of course, I also put in because I wanted to see incredible foreign ports with several of my classmates and friends. We set sail from New London for Saint Martin, our first port of call; a voyage done completely under sail and celestial navigation. The GPS and electronic navigation equipment “broke” so we had to figure out our position by the sun and the stars using a marine sextant.


In between the two destinations, my classmates and I were promoted from second class cadets to first class cadets, white shields to blue shields, and we then promoted our fourth class cadets to third class, green shields to red shields. It felt great to welcome our swabs into the fold of being an upper class cadet and give them the privilege of using our first names (swabs and fourth class cadets are required to use Sir/Ma’am and Mr./Miss when addressing upper class).


After relaxing on the beach and visiting both the Dutch and French sides of Saint Martin, we headed for our second Caribbean destination: Aruba. Even though all of us firsties were exhausted from the junior officer (JO) experience, the fun we had in Saint Martin and working together as a team helped us complete all of the tasks required of us and keep up a positive attitude.


From the beginning, each of us was given a division third class cadets, a collateral duty, several other projects, and required to qualify either as a Quartermaster of the Watch (QMOW), or an Oiler depending on if we are interested in becoming Deck Watch Officers (DWO) or Engineering Officers in Training (EOIT). Even though my career goal is to be an aviator, I decided to try QMOW out because it involved working with the sails and observing the wind and weather, important skills that apply to aviation.


As for my division, I had five third class cadets, including Samantha Corcoran. Part of the first class cadet role as a division officer included standing every watch with my division, from Bridge to Engineering to Combat to Watch on Deck, which meant that I got to know all of my division mates very well while I helped them succeed in their qualifications. I wouldn’t trade the division officer experience for anything because I made five really great friends; friends that made up a team I could rely on both during and after watch.


My collateral duty was incredible as well, because I was the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) and worked with the Public Affairs Petty Officer assigned to Eagle for the cadet deployment. As the PAO I would help take pictures and write captions for the Eagle Facebook Page, as well as writing press releases and setting up interviews for each port we pulled into.


The collateral duty improved both my writing skills, as well as teaching me how to work as a team with enlisted personnel, a vital skill for both DWO’s and aviators. Another valuable experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.


After Aruba, we sailed to Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, and then headed to our final destination: St. Petersburg, Florida. I conned (drove) Eagle into St. Petersburg and then stepped off the barque a few hours later to get underway the next day on my next unit: Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, a 270 home-ported out of Key West.


I matured over the five weeks that I was on Eagle; gaining an appreciation for the JO experience while at the same time enhancing my leadership skills and forming bonds with my division and classmates. Whether I’m fortunate enough to get flight school straight out of the Academy or have to wait a couple of years while I serve on a cutter, I feel way more prepared to become an officer than I did when I left the Academy as a second class cadet.


More about Jordan.


Good Luck 2017!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Belanger Photo While walking around of Chase Hall, I have noticed the cadre putting up the incoming Swabs’ name tags and gear in to the rooms and then I realized what big event in my life happened just earlier this week. June 25th marked my one year of being at the Coast Guard Academy, which inspired me to just give some quick hints for the incoming class.


First and foremost, remember you chose to come to a military academy. It will not be a normal college orientation. You WILL be pushed farther than the edge, but remember it is all training. This will set you up for the rest of your time at the Academy. The end goal is worth the challenge and it’s only seven weeks; it goes faster than you think!


Second, remember the cadre has been in your shoes. They have had training on what to look out for. They know what they are doing. They will yell, they will scream but it all has a reason. DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY! I know a lot of the members of your cadre and they are all upstanding cadets. Just take everything in stride, learn from your mistakes, and be ready to fulfill your role as the bottom of the corps. You will learn this during the summer but the corps feeds off of the Fourth Class. When you all are doing well, the corps is at peace, when you begin to slack off and have problems, just remember the rock rolls down the hill.


Third, you are all the best of the best coming from your high schools. Valedictorians, salutatorians, captains of sports teams, all star athletes, but during the summer you all are going to be part of the sweaty group running down the hallway at 6 a.m. yelling, waking me up from a peaceful sleep. Everyone is on an equal playing field. The term “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” came up a lot during my Swab Summer. Listen to everyone’s suggestions, and be a respectable shipmate. Just because you went to AIM, CGAS, or some other training, although they set you up a little more than those that have no basic training, do not let the words “The way we did it at (AIM, CGAS, etc) is like this” escape your mouth. Just hold it in and drive on.


Lastly, remember as I said before, its only seven weeks. You can make it! Enjoy your mail and care packages when you can and DRIVE ON! Congratulations on making into the Class of 2017, take pride in your class, your shipmates, and the Academy! Fair winds, following seas and SOUND OFF! The cadre are waiting…


If you have any questions please do not hesitate! 


More about Nathan.


Just You and the Ocean

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
frost Photo Hi everyone! It’s nearly the end of the first phase of my 3/c summer training program. I was lucky enough to have a very unique experience by participating in the Academy’s summer ocean racing program. It has been by far one of the best experiences of my life and I have made so many memories.


The program is designed for both dinghy and offshore sailors at the Academy. It is a six week training period geared at racing 44 foot sailboats. Each year there is one long distance race that the program competes in, where you are sailing out in the ocean by yourselves with a safety officer and a coach on board. This year the team completed the Annapolis to Newport Race.


Here is an overview of my first experience ocean racing: In four days on a boat I don't think we could have seen any new type of weather. Sun, rain, hail, big breeze, no breeze...we had it all. All we were missing was the snow. So go figure, we made every single sail change possible. And of course, some things went more smoothly than others. There were so many cool experiences that we had on the trip. I said I wanted to see a whale, and just a few hours later a whale was jumping off our starboard beam. We saw lots of dolphins and a whole pod played in our wake for about a mile. We watched a shark attack a fish and saw a sea turtle, too. I think night sailing was the best though. Sunday night the sky was so clear that I could see the Milky Way better than I ever have.


There are no trees or city lights or anything to interfere with the sky out there. It's a real life planetarium, only way better. There were millions of bright stars and then itty bitty ones that looked like glitter. We also saw many shooting stars, something I had never seen before. It was an eventful four days. Though I was glad to be back on dry land afterwards, I had a blast. I can see how it wouldn't be everyone's favorite race (with the rain and all), but with nothing to compare it to I loved distance racing. Sailing out there away from land, makes you feel even more connected with the ocean. It's incredibly peaceful and natural, totally raw – just you and the ocean.


As always, feel free to ask me any questions at


More about Christi.


Looking Back on an Incredible Summer So Far

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Krakower Photo The first half of my 2/c summer has been beyond awesome. Supposedly the best stuff hasn’t even occurred yet, and as I sit here and pretend to care about my testing for Rules of the Road (the painful endeavor to pass a written test on ship navigation with a 90%) I look back on what has been an incredible experience so far.


It started, well, not quite like everyone else’s summer. Myself and thirty other guys headed down to Greenville, South Carolina to play in the Lacrosse National Tournament! We smoked Sam Houston State 19-8 in the first round, but lost to the eventual champions, St. Thomas, in the second. Despite the bittersweet feeling of losing our senior players and getting beaten pretty handily, we were proud to say we’ve gone further than the program ever has before, and we finally got our chance to go Division III! Starting in my 1/c year, CGA lacrosse will officially be a NCAA varsity sport here. I am beyond excited to be a part of the first class here to play NCAA lax.


I had to go come back to the Academy and arrived for the last day of 100th Week. We went to a place called Stone’s Ranch, which is a National Guard base nearby. We participated in three tough challenges that tested our strength, durability, and leadership skills. The experience was awesome, and by the end of that Friday afternoon, we were officially second class, civvies and all!


After that, the weeks have flown by. I did T-boats, which taught us shiphandling skills, range, where I qualified as a Marksman on the P229 Sig Sauer Pistol, and with a week at Sector Long Island Sound, doing vessel inspections and working the Command Center. I also had a week of leave, which was fantastic being back home and traveling up to Pennsylvania with the family.


Now, I finish this ROTR week, and then I’ll be rolling. Just prep week, cadre, coastal sail, and more leave time remain for me. I’m anxious to start as cadre, but I know my classmates and I are more than ready to take on the challenge. 2017…you better be ready, because we are.


More about Sam.


Already This Summer Has Been an Adventure!

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo I have done so many things that I never would have been able to do had I not gone to the Academy and the summer is only half way done! Here’s a little taste of what I have been doing during my summer so far:


The week before finals started, the women’s dinghy team (including myself) competed in the qualifiers for women’s semi-finals. We sailed our hardest and qualified! It was awesome for our young team to be able to do this – we consist mainly of all 4/c and 3/c and one 2/c. In my division, I competed as the skipper with my crew being fellow blogger Christi Frost. We placed 4th in our division! Now that we qualified we had a lot of work to do before heading to St. Petersburg for the semi-finals. For the next two weeks we trained here at the Academy as well as down in Maryland with St. Mary’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy. In those two weeks I learned a lot and we all felt we were very prepared for the competition. After the two weeks of practice, we headed down to Florida, hoping to qualify for Nationals. We arrived at the site; there was little wind and extreme heat. It was a stressful two days and we sailed our hardest, but we did not qualify. The team was upset, but we are motivated to try our best and go to Nationals next year!


After returning to the Academy, Christi and I began our Phase I summer assignment – ocean racing! Ocean racing consists of sailing a J44 (Glory) in an ocean race and a few buoy races. Since both have us had missed two weeks of ocean racing due to practicing for semi-finals, we had a lot to learn. We had a week before the team was going to transit to Annapolis. The week flew by and soon we were packing up the boat and leaving New London for Maryland. The night before we left, everyone on the team was staring at the weather – our transit was going to be a rough one. There was going to be heavy winds (25-30 knots) and 8-10 foot seas. The next three days were challenging. Within five hours, our mainsail ripped and had to be taken down – meaning we would have to motor the rest of the way down to Annapolis. Most of us were not feeling well and the rocking waves were not helping. Eventually we put up a storm sail and our smallest jib in order to help ease the rocking. We eventually made it to the Delaware Bay where the seas calmed and it was a much easier transit to Annapolis. As we saw the town, I was never more excited to see land.


We stayed in Annapolis for a few days – preparing the boat for the Annapolis-Newport Race that would begin on Friday, June 7th. Again, we were watching the weather – the first tropical storm of the season was supposed to hit Annapolis right when our race was going to begin. Just our luck! The race committee decided to postpone the start and so we started four hours late. We still would sail in tropical storm force winds though! We started the race and wind gradually increased. During the middle of the night, we saw wind speeds over 30 knots. We were moving super fast! We raced down the Chesapeake with about 40 other sailboats. In the middle of the night all you could see were a few lights on their masts. By daytime we were out of the Chesapeake and in the ocean. There was very little breeze and it was really sunny – a welcome change from the stormy night. At that point we were 2nd in our division! For the rest of the race we sailed in the Atlantic. We saw almost every type of weather. We saw rain, hail, sun, wind, no wind and every combination of these things. The best thing about the race for me was that we were alone on the ocean and it was one of the most beautiful things in the world. During the day, all I could see was the water on the horizon for miles and miles. We saw so many cool animals during the day, there were turtles, a shark, a whale jumping out of the water and at one point a pod of dolphins played in our wake for about a mile. But my favorite was the nighttime. During the night you could see the dark sea and the stars and the moon. The stars were the brightest I have ever seen and they were everywhere. There were also a ton of shooting stars. We could see everything in the night sky. It was then that you could truly feel how small you are. It is so hard to describe the awesomeness of this experience; I wish I could just show you all.


The last 12 hours of the race were definitely the hardest. The wind picked up and we hit a storm. Our boat was heeled over so much that the lifelines were in the water most of the time. We were frustrated that we were so close to land but it was taking so long. It was raining and we were cold and ready to take a long, hot shower. We finally finished the race at 0755 on Tuesday, June 11th.


That race was one of the most fun and memorable experiences I have ever had. I saw some of the most beautiful things, I learned a lot, and I got to do one of my favorite things – sail. So far this summer has been amazing and I cannot wait for the rest of my summer! For the next two weeks I will be doing buoy races on Glory. And then I will spend four weeks of USCGC Eagle where we will go to Bermuda, St. Pierre, Halifax and then Boston. I hope everyone is having an awesome summer!


More about Kayla.


The Summer Has Just Started!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Belanger Photo Well, our summer has just reached its mid-point. So far this summer I have sailed from New London all the way to St. Maarten, Aruba, Gitmo, and then finally St. Pete in Florida. To say the very least, it was beyond amazing. From seeing dolphins, sea turtles, whales, glowing algae to enjoying the nights out in port I have done far more than I would have been able to do going to a normal institution. One of the high points on Eagle that I got to experience was working for two weeks night baking with the Food Specialists. The job of the night baker is not only to make all of the bread for the next day (one night amounting to over 40 lbs of bread) but cooking mid-rations, known as mid-rats, for the 0000-0400 watch sections. FS3 Christopher Stockton took me under his wing and taught me as much as he could those two weeks. Although it required me to stay up later and work a little longer than my classmates, my only regret is not doing it sooner. After departing Eagle, I am taking on a new experience on the Coast Guard Cutter Chase Hall. Due to a program that I was in my 4/c year called 4-5-2, I am required to go to summer school back at the Academy. Some might think that is a rough time missing those six weeks underway at a real Coast Guard Unit but I am more than happy to come back for school. I only have to take two classes, so only two classes to focus on, which means it could easily boost my GPA. I cannot wait to see what summer school has to bring me and I promise to keep you updated! Class of 2017, the cadre are waiting for you…


If you have any questions please do not hesitate! 


More about Nathan.


Dear Incoming Swabs of the Class of 2017

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo Dear Incoming Swabs of the Class of 2017,


I hope you are all super excited about becoming a cadet here at the USCGA. I know this time last year I had mixed emotions. I was excited about the opportunities that I would get to have, nervous about Swab Summer and upset that I would be leaving home. I'm sure most, if not all of you, are feeling the same things. Believe me, things will get worse before they get better. But I promise all of you can get through it. Just think of all the amazing things you can do at the Academy.


Now that I have a year under my belt here, I thought I would give you some tips for surviving Swab Summer.


  1. So here is basically what you do during the day: wake up at 0530, run around and do morning calisthenics for an hour, then breakfast, then trainings, lunch, trainings, dinner, then more trainings and then bed at 2200. Trainings include summer math, honor trainings, sailing, an obstacle course, and intercompany sports. And then of course there is cadre time, where they can do whatever they want with you.
  2. Yelling: My main tip here is to remember that the cadre aren't yelling at you to be mean, they are yelling at you to teach you. Don't take the yelling personally. Everyone is getting yelled at. When you get singled out, which you will, it isn't a big deal. Even the best swabs get yelled at.
  3. IT (Physical Stuff): Yup, it’s going to be challenging, but anyone can do it. You just need to know you can do it. Nothing that they make you do will be impossible. It has all been done before and the cadre are going to be doing it with you.
  4. Memorizing Stuff: I was possibly the worst person ever at memorizing indoc every week. I got yelled at everyday for not knowing it. It’s ok. But really try to learn it because later on in the school year you will need to know it to complete 4/c year.
  5. There is some fun. Since I was there during the Olympics, we did our own "Swab Summer Olympics". We had a lot of inside jokes in my company. And my company got really close – almost like a family. We had a 4th of July dinner and we watched the fireworks, which was really fun too. And of course, you will also be on Eagle for a week at the end of the summer. This is a great time to relax a little from the stress of Swab Summer. But remember learn all you can while you are on board Eagle.
  6. The Packing List: Don’t bring any more than you have to. However, a few small things you should bring that aren’t on the packing list are lighters (for burning off frays on uniforms), some food, band-aids and paper/envelopes/stamps. Some tips: buy the two-in-one shampoo/conditioner, ladies please bring lots of hair gel (I mean that you will go through one bottle a week), and pack everything in a backpack or some bag you can wear on your back.
  7. The most important thing I can tell you about the summer is to be mentally prepared and mentally sound throughout Swab Summer. That is how I got through the summer. I was ready to tackle the challenges I was faced with. I knew that I could do anything they tasked me with since so many people had done it before me. Just remember how many people have done the same thing that you will be doing. If they can do it, so can you. Also remember all the people whose spot you took. There are plenty of people who applied to be in the Class of 2017 who didn't make it. You are not only going through Swab Summer for yourself, but also for them. And finally remember all the amazing things you will get to do after Swab Summer in your future at the Academy and in the Coast Guard. Right now I'm heading down to Annapolis on a 44-foot sailboat going to participate in an ocean race, the Annapolis-Newport Race. I will be ocean racing until the end of June, then I will be on board Eagle for a month. Just think, you will be doing that in just another summer.

Class of 2017, GOOD LUCK! Don’t give up, remember how many people wanted your spot but didn’t get it because you were accepted instead. You have many awesome opportunities lying ahead in your Coast Guard career. If you have any questions, you can email me at I'll gladly answer any that you have! Good Luck. And Go Bears!! I look forward to meeting you all in August!


P.S. Don't be afraid of the cadre. They aren't scary, I promise!!! They were my 3/c and they are awesome people.


More about Kayla.


Swab Summer: Cadre Perspective

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Gurtler Photo This summer marks the second summer that I have spent at the Academy training to become a better leader and cadet. It’s called Swab Summer. The first time around I was a swab, unsure of what I was to do and what was expected of me. However, this time my shipmates and I are the leaders. We know what to do and how tasks need to be handled. After all, character and leadership has been engrained in us for the past two years.


I have anticipated this summer ever since I was a swab, wondering what kind of leader I want to be. When I was a swab, I had cadre whom I wanted emulate when I was put in their position in a couple of years. They were stern when they needed to be, but they were always fair. Like them, I want to be a mentor. I want to share my knowledge and experience with my swabs. I respect all of them for taking the Oath to protect and defend our Constitution, just as my class, the Class of 2015, did on Reporting-In Day on June 27th, 2011. With that respect comes responsibility. I am responsible for holding them to a certain standard and making them into fully capable cadets. On the other hand, I had a handful of cadre when I was a swab who illustrated the traits I do not wish to possess as a leader. It is because of these cadre that I know what leader I do not want to be – something that is equally as valuable as understanding the leadership qualities I desire to have.


Many do not know that when the Class of 2017 graduates and earns their commissioning, they will go out in the fleet to relieve the Class of 2015 from their first officer billets. I want to ensure that I have prepared the swabs with the fundamentals during their summer so that they may transition well into Academy life, and in the distant future when they report to their first assignment.


As you can see I am taking the responsibilities given to me this summer very seriously. I have earned the privilege to wear these shoulder boards and to train the incoming freshmen. If I know my class, and I think I do very well, my shipmates and I will be giving the swabs our maximum effort at all times – something that we expect from them as well. They have earned the privilege to be a swab at the USCGA, which is a feat that should not be taken lightly. However, the challenges have just begun. This will be a difficult, but highly rewarding experience for them. My classmates and I are ready to welcome the Class of 2017 in a few short weeks.


One last point that I had failed to mention above is that my brother, Phillip, has been accepted into the Class of 2017 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy! I had the honor to present him with his appointment letter at his high school senior awards ceremony while I was home in Wisconsin on leave. I am so proud of him and the cadet he will become once he and his classmates endure the seven weeks of Swab Summer!


More about Victoria.


Roommates and Company

(Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo After having six different roommates during Swab Summer, I thought I was prepared to have just one during the school year. Instead, first semester I had two, both bloggers Allie Roesch and Caroline Miller. Second semester again I anticipated a quiet escape, but having only one assigned roommate, Christi Frost, did not last for long. Self elected company Kayla Ellis and Andrew Britton never ceased to make me smile this semester and I am honored to call them my unofficial roommates.

Sarah's video blogYouTube Icon


More about Sarah.


Academy Drill: A Pass and Review

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo This is a short video blog about Regimental Pass and Review ceremonies, also known casually as "drill". While the corps is scheduled to drill every Friday afternoon of the early fall and late spring seasons, the video was taken during the only two ceremonies that were not cancelled due to inclement weather this past Spring of 2013. The entire corps of cadets participates in drill, thus it is an integral part of cadet life.

Sarah's video blog YouTube Icon


More about Sarah.


Third-Class Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Just yesterday it seemed like I was leaving the Academy to embark on my 3/c summer. It’s hard to believe how a couple short weeks can change someone’s perspective on the Coast Guard! After being cooped up at the Academy for the better part of 10 months, it was great to get out into the operational Coast Guard. The summer started for me with my reporting to Coast Guard Small Boat Station Annapolis, Maryland. At first it was tough adjusting to working with the enlisted personnel at the station, but before long I was learning so much from the station’s members about both the operational Coast Guard and their personal experiences as enlisted members of the Coast Guard.


The first week at the station I spent focusing on becoming Communications Watch Stander qualified, which involved me sitting in the station’s Comms Center and learning how to respond to mariners distressed at sea as well as how the station ran operationally. The information was defiantly interesting and useful, but I was happy to be qualified within a week of reporting in so that I was able to get underway more at the station. I had several unique experiences while underway, including patrolling the Severn River as part of the protection detail for the President during his Commencement Speech at the U.S. Naval Academy. I also got to participate in boarding several vessels and conducting a field B.U.I. test (boating under the influence; the nautical version of a D.U.I) as well as getting underway for several search and rescue missions.


In addition, while in port I learned a lot about the capabilities of the Coast Guard 45’ and 29’ response boats. Even though I have been away from the Academy I have been keeping tabs on events there and wanted to offer a hearty Bravo Zulu to the Class of 2013 for their completion of the Academy experience and offer my best wishes for them in the fleet. It was also exciting to learn of the announcement that the Academy’s Lacrosse programs (both Men and Women’s) will become full varsity sports during the 2014-15 school year. Even though the summer has only just started it’s amazing the experiences I have already had, and can’t wait for my time aboard Eagle here in a couple of weeks!


More about James.