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cadet blogs

Experiences on the 'Other Side of the Fence' Part I

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Chavarria-Aguilar Photo During the months of May and June, I spent a solid six weeks at a small boat station in Port Canaveral, Florida. I would like to express how much fun I had, as well as iterate the lessons I learned in the operational side of the Coast Guard. I may have mentioned in one of my previous blog entries that life at the Academy tends to be bubbled, you know, sheltered from what real life in the Coast Guard is like. Well, I can definitely say that my summer has allowed me to see what is on the other side of the fence, offering me a glimpse of what to expect in the future. This is true. While at my station assignment, I experienced a variety of different challenges that taught me things I could not learn while at the Academy. To me, it’s amazing to think that my time in Florida was a mere scratch on the surface of what life is like outside of the Academy.

 

Life at a small boat station is unique. Instead of being underway for weeks or months, station crewmembers only go underway for hours at a time. Station Port Canaveral has three different types of boats, including the 24’ Special Purpose Craft Shallow Water (SPC-SW) boat, the 25’ Response Boat-Small (RB-S), and the 45’ Response Boat-Medium (RB-M).

 

While at my station my primary role mimicked that of junior enlisted personnel. I was put on a duty rotation, just as every other member of the station, and worked in the galley as mess cook at least once a week. Acting as a junior enlisted was much like being a swab. You are the lowest in the chain of command, and your jobs usually consist of cleaning or station maintenance. For example, the first time that I was mess cook, the power went out and I had to wash most of the breakfast dishes by hand. I enjoy hands-on work, but cleaning like that tends to get old over time. That experience taught me to truly appreciate the work that junior enlisted do. If anything, I believe this appreciation is one of the most important things cadets should understand during their 3/c summer.

 

I also had multiple opportunities to help with public relations while at Station Port Canaveral. On one occasion, I went with two petty officers and another cadet to the Palm Bay Veteran Appreciation function. Another time, the station helped support a Recycled Boat Regatta at the park. We raced boats out of recycled material and a lot of people came up with some fairly clever designs. I also participated in a few change of command ceremonies, as usher or color guard. My two favorite color guard events involved a Purple Heart ceremony on Memorial Day and a funeral flag-folding ceremony for a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

 

Although most of these experiences have nothing to do with saving someone’s life, or busting drug-runners, I feel that they are equally rewarding in their own way. Again, lessons can be taught in a variety of ways. You’d be surprised, trust me.

 



More about Alexis.

 

Quite A Busy Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Nelson Photo Once again I am finding myself stumped by how fast this summer has flown by! It seems like only yesterday, I was blogging about my plans for the summer and how excited I was…now the summer is over half way done! In the past month, I have grown in my nautical skills, traveled to Japan, trained to be a cadre, and had probably my best cadet summer yet.

 

The first two weeks, I spent learning the Rules of the Road (ROTR)…by road I mean the sea and river “roads”… and then I spent a week on a tugboat learning how to operate the boat and act as the conning officer for anchoring, man-overboard, and mooring drills. ROTR training was an intensive, one-week class of straight driving rules and regulations, and I am not going to lie, it was very dry content. It definitely brought back flashbacks from the school year. Despite this, I was glad to learn the rules so that I can not only pass the exam but also serve as a competent officer on a cutter someday. Tugboat training, on the other hand, was one of my favorite weeks of the summer. We spent each of the days either working in the boat simulator or on the tugboat. I got to drive the boat multiple times and act as the conning officer for multiple maneuvering exercises.

 

Next was Prep Week for Swab Summer. We went to many trainings and practiced speeches and such for the swabs. Because I am cadre 2, I got to act as a swab for my classmates to practice with, which was fun. We also spent hours and hours preparing the swab rooms, getting them all set for the incoming Delta swabs. Then on Sunday – the day before R-day – we vacated the campus for a few hours while the parents and incoming swabs toured Chase Hall. Instead of hanging around, we had a huge cadre-wide BBQ for a few hours.

 

While I would love to give some sort of a report on how R-day went, I left very early that morning to catch a plane to Japan. I have been at the Japanese Coast Guard Academy for the past week for their International Exchange Program. I went with my classmate, Scotty Kenney, and it was an absolute blast!

 

Next I have a fairly low-key week in the range. As a member of the Combat Arms Team, I am already qualified in pistol, but I will be helping my classmates get qualified as well. After completing that week of training, I will be taking over as cadre for the Delta Swabs. I am very excited.

 

Being cadre is honestly what drew me to the Academy, not because I wanted to yell at people but because of the incredible leadership experience. As an AIMster three years ago, I saw the incredible poise and self-control of my cadre and knew that I wanted to become a leader like them. Now, I am standing in their shoes and it is a little daunting, but I am confident in my training, my team, and my God, who has heard and is going to hear so many prayers as I seek to be the best leader I can be. One of the points from the trainings we had during Prep Week was that we need to conduct ourselves in such a way that at the end of the summer we can look the family members of our swabs in the eyes and say that we did our best for their brother, sister, son, or daughter. I would like the family members of my swabs to be confident that I led their child or sibling to the best of my ability, and that is a large part of my focus as I am preparing to take over. Go Bears and God bless!

 



More about Jessica.