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cadet blogs

Ready to Return

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Martin Photo Back to the Academy! Today was the first day of classes and its time to get back in the saddle. I had an amazing three weeks leave at home spending a weekend in the Los Angeles area with my family and then the next weekend I drove back to Los Angeles with friends. I went camping up in the Arizona mountains and tried to catch some fish. It is always good to go home, especially to sleep in a Tempur-pedic queen bed instead of a two-inch mattress that I don’t fit on aboard the cutters this summer. Going home is so much different once you are away for so long. You notice things you have never noticed before and you are appreciative of everything you used to take for granted, like my mom doing my laundry! It is crazy to see what your high school classmates are doing now, which is usually the same things they were doing in high school or they are married or have kids. It is hard to imagine what life would be like if I wasn’t at the Academy and when you go home you become even more thankful for the opportunities you get at the Academy.

 

I am actually excited for my classes this year because I finally am able to get into my major. 3/c year is the toughest academic year and therefore, your upper class try to give you a brake militarily, but it is still hard to maintain the military performance when the academic stresses get so high. As 3/c, we are now considered role modelers for the new 4/c. We are now responsible for others and are crucial in making sure they grow and mature as 4/c and don’t flunk out of here. I was ready to come back to the Academy, even though it was hard to step on that airplane knowing where it was headed. I’m ready to kick start the year, and I’m even more ready for Labor Day!

 



More about Matt.

 

The Best Break

(Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Zwenger Photo In July I went home! Probably the best break that I’ve had in a long time. After winter leave I had some regrets so I really wanted to take advantage of hanging out with the people that I still keep in touch with. You’ll be surprised that when you get your Facebook taken away for all of freshman year that only you’re true friends will actually go out of their way to find other ways to communicate. I kept in touch with only six people give or take a few. Anyways, I really wanted to take this break to spend time with people, as I said, and just sit back and do nothing because when you’re at the Academy there isn’t a moment where you just chill out. Even on the weekends you’re either doing homework or trying to get away and have a semi-real life. So I did what I set out to accomplish, which is a bit more difficult that it seems to be. I don’t think I could have had a better time on break. That’s all.

 



More about Spencer.

 

All That The Enlisted Do

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Zwenger Photo During June I was at Station Ponce de Leon, which happened to be a better experience than Eagle. Looking back at it station life it was really fun. I was about a five-minute walk from the beach and got liberty 4-5 days a week, and while I was at the station I learned a lot not only about the Coast Guard but about the enlisted workforce as well. A lot of the work that the enlisted do goes unnoticed by the public, which is partly why I’m writing about it now. Although we were only there for five weeks, they taught us all they could in that time period while maintaining their course of work. Honestly, the amount of work they do and the great experience I had cannot be described with words, but only by experiencing it. So, sorry for being so vague but all I can say is that I had a great, no, an amazing experience which I wouldn’t have given up for anything.

 

Just some shout outs to Master Chief Jensen, MK3 Vandeven, and SN Davern, and the rest of the crew at Station Ponce as they were the ones that taught me the most and made my experience worthwhile. That’s all.

 



More about Spencer.

 

Different Challenges, Different Endgame

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Rudy Photo When I returned from leave, we had a week of preparations and then the swabs arrived. We were all very excited, but also a little nervous. R-Day went extremely well I was nervous that I would have trouble keeping a serious face, while correcting swabs and yelling at them, however the role came naturally and the next two weeks of Swab Summer was exhausting but went by extremely fast. It was a lot of work, and I was getting sick from a nasty cold and just exhausted. I never thought being a cadre could be harder than being a swab, but it was, the challenges were just different.

 

My next week of training was the aviation training program which was extremely enjoyable. We had a lot of free time and were able to sleep and recover from the craziness of Swab Summer, and eat lots of good food. I also loved the helo hoist, where a rescue swimmer came and picked us up into a helicopter and we were given a lollipop at the top.

 

The next two weeks, I was involved in the coastal sail training program on the brand new Leadership 44s. This was probably one of the most challenging and beneficial experiences I have ever had at the Academy. I learned a lot about both myself and working with peers. It was challenging at times to agree and be on the same page with my classmates, as eight of us were crammed onto the small boat for two weeks straight. We got really close but at the same time, we got tired of each other.

 

The last week of training consisted of T-boats which was where we learned how to do man overboard drills, dock and leave the pier. We also got to try the simulators, it was a fun, relaxing week.

 

The summer finally ended with our last week of Swab Summer. I couldn’t believe that the summer flew by so fast. Swab Summer ended a bit early because of a rainstorm, which was a huge bummer but I was ready to have a break from the yelling and high intensity of everything and I think the swabs we trained are definitely ready for the school year, and I was so proud to have trained them, it felt like they were my kids all grown up!

 



More about Megan.

 

Time Flies!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Wu Photo Time truly fries. More than a year ago I completed Swab Summer! Over summer leave I was with my two fellow shipmates enjoying New York City and our break from the Academy when we relived the very same day last year we were going through our grueling last day of Swab Summer also known as Sea Trials. I am amazed a year has past by so quickly and I am looking forward to this year.

 

Summer has been more than I expected it to be. I got the chance to be on Eagle for six weeks, which was more fun than I had anticipated. I got to get a lot closer with my classmates especially since during the school year I did not get the chance to mingle with people outside of my isolated company on the 4th deck. It was especially hard for 2015 to get to know our whole class since we stayed in the same company since Swab Summer. It was nice to meet, work with, and learn with new people on Eagle and also enjoy the War of 1812 Commemoration. I got to see a bunch of tall ships as we traveled together from Savannah, Georgia, to New York City for Fleet Week, to Norfolk, Virginia and then ending in Baltimore, Maryland. Although it would have been nice to travel to Europe or the Caribbean like the class of 2014 and 2013, however this experience was unique since you never really get to see all these tall ships together in one place. There were tall ships from around the world, from Indonesia to Ecuador and Columbia.

 

After phase I, I got the chance to go to the Naval Academy and experience their Yard Patrol ships. They are around 108 feet and since there are fewer crewmembers there were more responsibilities for the cadets and the midshipmen. Through my experiences on the YPs I got the chance to get more familiar with navigating and plotting 3 minute fixes. We were given roles that the 1/c on Eagle, like Conning Officer and Navigator, were responsible for so it was a bit intimidating at first, but rewarding when we succeeded. I got to explore Annapolis with four other Coasties and we enjoyed the little town outside of the academy. The Naval Academy itself was a gorgeous campus and really big. We got to stay in Bancroft Hall while we had trainings about the YPs and met a lot of midshipmen. I enjoyed my experience at the Naval Academy, but the experience also made me realize how much I appreciate being at the Coast Guard Academy because of how small and intimate the service is. I like how people at the Coast Guard Academy actually know each other and genuinely care for one another and the incoming class.

 

Now, coming back from summer leave and relaxation and being at home with my friends and family, I get the chance to be a role modeler for the class of 2016. As the academic year gets started I have a lot of goals for myself, but I also want to help out the 4/c as much as possible. Being in a small academy, you get close to your company and within a week I have learned a lot about the 4/c in Alfa Company and really care for them and hope that they are able to succeed. Now as a 3/c, I get the chance to help my 4/c the way my 3/c helped me and if so, even more. I remember the feeling of support when I was a 4/c and knowing that people around me are helping me get through the first hard initial year at the CGA.

 

I am looking forward to a fresh start with a new academic semester, being in a new company with a new roommate in a new room and no longer being a 4/c!

 



More about Ellie.

 

A Second Chance and What Resulted

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Carlos Quintero May 4th indicated the last day of academics of my 3/c year in 2012 and the transition into being a 2/c for cadre summer. I heard from most upper class that the third summer at the Academy was the most fun and important, because it is the transformation from being a follower to a leader. Being a “prep cadet,” I had been at the bottom for three years, so I was ready to move on to a leadership role. Right as the summer started, I was in jeopardy of losing the opportunity to be an officer in the Coast Guard due to my academic problems.

 

I received a letter of disenrollment for failing two classes, second semester my 3/c year. It’s a horrible feeling knowing that after three years of hard work your Coast Guard career could be over. After hearing the news, I quickly turned to help by interacting with the Academy staff closest to me. They did a great job of steering me in the right direction and helping with the appeal process. When a cadet is disenrolled he or she has a couple of days to present an argument of why they should be retained. Upon review, my appeal was approved and I was given another chance. The reason I’m writing this story is to let people know that it is possible to fail and get back up again. If you actually want to be here and are willing to put in the work, you may be given a second chance. When you get close to almost losing something you dream about, it makes you work a lot harder.

 

The Cape May Company Commanders came to train us for the first week of cadre summer. It was a unique experience to be taught by professionals, how to be a cadre, in preparation for Swab Summer. I don’t want to get into the details of the 100th week training, because I wouldn’t want to spoil your fun. 100th week ended with a ceremony promoting us to 2/c, which was followed by a week at the shooting range. The staff at the range, which is located in Chase Hall, is excellent at teaching cadets to excel at shooting a pistol. The entire class of 2014 attained their basic pistol shooting qualification. A week later we got out of the range and back into the classroom for a Rules of the Road (ROTR) class. ROTR is the mariners equivalent to a civilian taking the written portion of the driving test. At the end of that week, we took a test to qualify. That test is much harder than the drivers test.

 

After spending three weeks of leave at home I returned full of energy and motivation to train swabs. After a week of doing trainings, relating to safety and rules regarding Swab Summer, R-Day came around. It was cool not to be the one at the bottom anymore and being told what to do. I was a Waterfront Cadre, which meant that during the day I would train the swabs to sail and on the evenings help train them back at the barracks. I was never a sailor, but I learned enough the week before Swab Summer started to teach swabs. When you watch swabs get out on the river in their boats not knowing what their doing, then at the end bringing it together is a good feeling. After three weeks the second set of Waterfront Cadre relieved us.

 

Having wrapped up Swab Summer, I moved on to my next assignment, which was on the 26 foot sailboats, the Colgates. Our culminating event that week was sailing to Fishers Island, and that’s when I realized sailing is a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to attend two different conferences for naval officers. The first being in New Orleans, Louisiana for the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) and the second in San Diego, California for the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO). I met a lot of officers from the Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps. They acted as mentors and gave me advice on how to be successful as an officer.

 



More about Carlos.

 

Earning Our White Shields

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Rudy Photo I cannot even begin to describe how crazy it is to finally be a second class at the Academy. The summer began with 100th week, which was both challenging and rewarding. I will never forget petty officer Couch from Cape May, who would call “FIRE FIRE FIRE” and make us spring in boondockers all the way from the fourth floor to the parade field for nearly four hours straight! Echo Company definitely had the most physical week of training, and I think I was even more sore from one day of that than I was all of Swab Summer. Earning our white shields at the end of the week was one of the best and most rewarding moments at the Academy. I also enjoyed all of the confidence courses and leadership classes, I learned a lot from all of it, and I think it really prepared us to be cadre for the incoming class of 2016.

 

The next week of the summer, I had range, which was where all of our cadre section has to get qualified in pistol. I was really nervous and jumpy at first because it was so loud in the room and the kick was very hard. It took me four days to qualify, but with a lot of help, I got my qualification. The next week was Rules of the Road for ship handling, which I failed and will have to take again when the school year starts. During these two weeks, my cadre section was also responsible for preparing all the swab rooms and cleaning them as well as filling them with supplies. I then had leave, which I was ready for and I was extremely excited to go home one last time to Bulgaria, as my family moved back to Colorado this summer.

 



More about Megan.

 

Busy, Busy Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Subramanian Photo I promise that I have an excuse for not updating my blog! Third Class summer was amazing! I had the opportunity to work on the USCGC Biscayne Bay, a 140’ icebreaking cutter out of St. Ignace, Michigan. The weather was always amazing and the experience was great. I was the only cadet on board, and I was the first cadet many of the crewmembers had ever met.

 

The cutter was in a “Charlie period,” a maintenance and renovating period during the boat’s offseason. I acted as a Fireman, the rate of a junior enlisted. I contributed in the renovation of the outside “non-skid” deck and the painting of all railings. I also spent a lot of valuable time in the engine room and motor room. Since I am an engineering major, I learned so much about the engineering side of the Coast Guard, spending time with the Machinery Technicians and Electrician Mates. I visited Air Station Traverse City, where I rode in a Coast Guard helicopter and overlooked the Great Bear Sand Dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan. I spent liberty in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I spent a lot of time learning many fun outdoor activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, backpacking, and fishing.

 

I spent five weeks aboard Coast Guard Barque Eagle with my classmates. We got onboard in Baltimore and made stops in Boston, New London, and Halifax. I consider myself fortunate to witness and be a part of Eagle’s Change of Command. The Change of Command ceremony is one that is very unique in the Coast Guard, where total power is transferred from one person to another.

 

Eagle was a wonderful chance to bond with my classmates in the lack of sleep, the copious amount of work, and the fun on liberty at different port calls. We learned how to work together as a team in many evolutions, like down in the engine room or on deck during Sail Stations. In Boston, I spent time with my classmates, visiting the Boston Aquarium and Quincy Market. In Halifax, we visited the famous casino and toured the very historic city.

 

I spent my three weeks of leave at home in Princeton, New Jersey. I was lucky enough to see many of my high school friends. I got to go backpacking at the famous Sourland Mountains and swam in isolated creeks and rivers. Though three weeks was not nearly enough time to fully catch up with my friends, I am excited to be at the Academy, especially for the start of the football and volleyball seasons. I will be attending most of the games and be a loud, enthusiastic fan that I am. I also am excited to mentor the incoming fourth class cadets in military aspects and academics. I am now a registered Peer Tutor, a wonderful opportunity to help fourth class get accustomed with the difficult homework and exams that the Academy gives.

 

GO Bears, BEAT Merchant Marine!!

 



More about Kevin.

 

First Hand Followership and Leadership

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Martin Photo I just arrived to Boston aboard CGC Spencer after two weeks underway and after four weeks on Eagle. It has been a really fun summer so far and I have learned so much. I learned a lot about myself, a lot about followership and leadership, and a ton about the Coast Guard. After New York City on board Eagle, we went for 10 days underway to Norfolk, Virginia for a few days in port there. We were all not looking forward to Norfolk, but it turned out to be everyone’s favorite port. The city had an amazing reception for the tall ships coming in and had so many activities for us to do in port. They had free concerts and free shuttles to malls, beaches, Busch Gardens, or waterparks and everyone had fun at all of them. The location of where we were moored up was the coolest, right in downtown Norfolk in the middle of “Harborfest,” a big maritime celebration that happens every year in Norfolk. After that short stay, we headed up the Chesapeake to Baltimore, Maryland, which was one of the coolest harbors to come into. It was tiny and I felt as if we weren’t going to fit, but we made it into the newly redone downtown Baltimore, which had a very old industrious feel with all the bricks and smokestacks. There were plenty of nice places to eat, walk around, and there was also the gorgeous National Aquarium with a huge shark exhibit, otter show, dolphin show, and much more. It proved why it was called the National Aquarium. I only got to spend one night in Baltimore because the next morning I was on a plane with two of my classmates back to NYC. USCGC Spencer was waiting for us in Staten Island.

 

We eventually made it after a surprisingly long day of travelling, and we left the pier the next morning to be underway for two weeks. It was good to see an operational Coast Guard unit, especially a cutter, which was a rare experience for my class. It is good to just sit back and see how people work. There isn’t too much for cadets to do onboard since we are not yet qualified so we usually get stuck with the bottom of the food chain jobs that take no mental capability. Usually they were not fun jobs, yet someone had to do them nonetheless. It was good to give the crew a break from these jobs, too, since they have to do them all the time. One of my favorite things we got tasked with was unclogging the sewage holding tank. Yes, it was just as much fun as it sounds. DC2 stuck a crowbar up the valve and there came 40 gallons of that lovely #2 all over my newly pressed uniform. So there I sat for the next few hours with a bottle of Clorox, a hose, and a rag, cleaning every nook and cranny in the engine room. I did take a three hour long shower after and enjoyed every minute of it, even though I still smelled afterwards. All these little jobs are good experience for us in our leadership development no matter how much they stink. We learn what the junior enlisted have to go through everyday and we learn an appreciation for what they do as well as every enlisted person on the ship. You get to hear what ticks them off and what makes them happy. You learn what makes a ship work and what can break a ship apart, besides icebergs. Also, with every interaction whether it be Coast Guard related or not, you learn what you want to be like and what you don’t want to be like. You learn about poor leadership and good leadership and it is a great learning tool to feel how each feels as a follower so when you are a leader, you know what to do and how to treat your people. I have learned more about myself this summer than I could have imagined. I saw what hard work gets you in the Coast Guard and the importance of our Honor Concept first hand. This summer puts everything you do at the Academy in perspective. You finally realize why things are the way they are, yet sometimes you find out that the Academy is its own beast that just sometimes doesn’t make sense. All in all, it was a great summer experience and I will bring everything I learned back to the Academy to build upon it, share it, and be an even better role model for my new 4/c.

 



More about Matt.

 

Coast Guard Alaska

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Shih Photo ENS Shih here from Alaska! It’s gorgeous up here. Sometimes I kick myself for not putting those Alaska 110s higher on my billet list, because at this point of my life I could definitely live up here. JO life for me continues to just get more hectic and confusing, but some of it’s coming together…if that makes any sense. I am continuing to pursue my quals: Machinery Watchstander, Advanced Damage Control, Ship Rescue Swimmer…it’s pretty endless. The work is pretty endless too. Lots of collaterals (some which seem random), and assortments of tasks to do. I’m not going to lie, being a JO is not a whole lot of fun. It has its moments though, and a lot of it seems to be about attitude. I have my ups and downs every day, but my better days are when I stay focused and stay positive. A lot of this year reminds me of 4/c year…but a huge plus…we are making bank! I love my paycheck.

 

I am trying to think of the highlights from the past few months. RIMPAC 2012 was quite an experience. Naval war games with twenty some odd countries…pretty neat. After that, was exploring Alaska. Second time for me (went to Alaska my 1/c Summer), but like I said this is a pretty sweet place. Then the Commandant of the Coast Guard and Secretary Napolitano landed on our ship with some senators and our crew got to show off the ship to them. Now, we are off to the Arctic.

 

I’ll say this, I am not the biggest fan of being underway for five straight months. It could be a little shorter in my opinion, but there is upside. I am seeing and experiencing once in a life time opportunities, and after two years on the USCGC Bertholf I already know I am going to have a good number of sea stories. Who doesn’t like a good sea story?

 

Highlight of my Alaska trip so far has been able to see Kelly Francis! Her and my good friend Mike just recently got married (their wedding was amazing), and now they are stationed up in Alaska. Unfortunately Mike is underway and I missed him, but I saw the house and the brand new puppy, and I am sure the next time I am in the area everyone will be there!

 

On the Academy side of things…today is the first day of school at CGA. It’s a little weird that 2012 isn’t going back. Some of the 2011 Ensigns even said school should be starting today. I’m not sure how long it lasts yet, but CGA stays with you one way or another. Hope everyone’s first day went well, and I am sure as usual the school year will be an adventure.

 

That’s all for now, got to wake up soon and finish up fish school!

 

As always if you have any questions, please shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to answer!

 

Christen.C.Shih@uscg.mil 

 



More about Chris.

 

May - August 2012

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Duplessis Photo Wow I had such an amazing summer! I left the Academy on May 5th and flew to Georgetown, South Carolina where I spent most of my time at the Coast Guard station there. It was a small station with four 25-foot small boats and one 41-foot utility boat. I had an awesome time working with everyone and being out on the water. I’ve always loved being on smaller boats so it was pretty exciting to ride around and learn about those specific vessels. The crew at the station was also amazing! They welcomed me and the other cadet right away and taught us probably more in those six weeks than I learned the entire school year. I also had the opportunity to go to Sector Charleston for a day and learn about what kind of jobs people do there.

 

After my month and a half in Georgetown, I boarded the Eagle in Baltimore. We spent around 23 days underway total and stopped in Boston, New London, and ended in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was lucky enough to spend time with my family in Boston and give them all a tour of the ship. Although living on Eagle could be difficult at times (I roomed with 17 other girls!), I’m glad I had that experience, and had a good time onboard overall. It was pretty cool to spend five weeks there as opposed to one week last year because you really got to know the ship, crew and a lot of my shipmates. I loved traveling under sail and learning how the ship functioned. I also had a really fun division who all made it easy to stand any watch whether it was at midnight or four in the morning.

 

After Eagle, I got to go home for three weeks of leave. I live on the coast in New Hampshire, so naturally I went to the beach as much as possible! I love spending time with my family so I packed in as much time as I could hang out with them and my friends. I ended up going whitewater rafting with my friend, shooting with my grandparents, and surfing and paddle boarding with my family. It was pretty tough coming back to school after such an awesome couple of months, but at least I’m going back as a 3/c!

 



More about Lindsay.

 

Yelling To Be Heard

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Anderson Photo For Coast Guard Academy incoming swabs, summer is filled with yelling. For cadre, it is too. Eagle Cadre, however, have a different take on the yelling involved with Swab Summer. For us, we yell to be heard. We yell so that commands are clear and understandable to those on all masts. We yell so that safety can be guaranteed. We yell as a part of learning to lead.

 

Over the course of the past three weeks, I have struggled alongside my classmates in learning how to follow the lead of our classmates, as well as lead our classmates, all while having a division of swabs under us. As we reflect on the time we were given, we came upon a multitude of successes, as well as some things to work on as we continue to sculpt our leadership styles through the next two years at the Academy.

 

We realized that when we were underclass, there was always a cadet above us telling us what needed to be done. When we donned those white shields, all of a sudden we became the taskers. We became the ones the swabs come to when they don’t know what to do. We became the ones responsible for knowing where they are, what they are doing, and ensuring their safety. We stepped into the shoes of leaders, and took off running.

 

At the end of the day when we consider our three weeks in this leadership laboratory, we did alright. We didn’t lose any swabs, or allow anyone to get injured, and every swab as they were leaving the boat said they had a positive first underway experience. We as a cadre team learned to work in a cohesive and effective manner, allowing for tasks to be completed nearly seamlessly, and in a competent manner. We even learned to take control in a variety of situations, and use the wealth of information and variety of perspectives to our advantage.

 

Showing up for our first phase, there was a general confidence amongst the cadre section in our ability to lead. We all had a fairly rigid set of boundaries set for how we wanted things to be with our swabs, planned to follow our anticipations, and we did. And it’s not that we were unsuccessful the first week, but we came to the realization that we weren’t the most efficient leaders we could be. Only then did we really begin the learning process; the process of learning about ourselves, our various leadership styles, and really how to lead others.

 

After our first phase, however, I think it’s safe to say we realized how much we still had to learn. As we entered the second week, we brainstormed the most efficient manners in which to convey information, while allowing safety and an enjoyable environment to persist. Through that week, we recognized our strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and made goals to work on for the next week.

 

Through our third week, we worked on smoothing out the bumps in the road we encountered, and generally enjoying our last week onboard. We ensured the swabs were doing everything they needed to, learning and having fun, and spent the week getting to know them especially well. The last week’s swabs had already completed sea trials, thus signaling the conclusion of their Swab Summer, therefore that were the week when we were most able to be ourselves around them.

 

After our final week, we looked around and took a moment to reflect. We realized how much more efficient we had become as leaders and classmates; how cohesive our team structure was in its functioning, and most of all—how we had all come together to trust each other and our abilities to deal with problems in the most proficient manner possible. When we look back on our cadre summer, I think it’s safe to say that most of us, when we remember yelling, will remember not yelling at swabs to instill discipline or information, but yelling simply to be heard.

 



More about Meredith.

 

A Couple of Eagle Sea Stories for Ya!

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Martin Photo One of my experiences was the first day our division got Helm and Lookout qualified and me and my friend Collard were standing at the Helm for the first time by ourselves. We saw the Captain come up to the bridge and then the XO and we knew something was about to happen. All of a sudden, XO grabs something from the bridge and throws it overboard and starts yelling “Man overboard, port side!” The wind is blowing with a slight sprinkle and we look to each other with the “Uh oh” face. The OOD yells, “Helmsman, full left rudder!” Mind you, the wheel to turn the rudder has no hydraulics. Full rudder is a command to take the rudder thirty degrees to the left which is usually a six man evolution and it was just the two of us… We arrived at twenty degrees barely hanging on for our dear lives, Collard was squatting up as hard as he could and I was draped over the wheel trying to budge it any further and it wouldn’t move a bit. Our arms started to spasm and just before we let the wheel a spinnin’, a big seamen jumped on the wheel as well as a couple others and saved our lives. We felt that in the morning, but we also rescued the man overboard in record time!

 

Later on during that time at sea, my division had Watch on Deck duty which is keeping the sails trimmed or setting or dousing sails to keep the ship going the correct speed without calling all hands on deck to fix the sails. At the moment, we were going 15 knots, just shy of Eagle’s max speed of 17 knots. We were having 40 knot gusts and were listing over at about 35 degrees. We were told we had to furlough the royal, which is the sail at the very top, about 150 feet above the water. I am quite afraid of heights and the conditions didn’t help the situation. I said I wouldn’t do it, there’s no way I could make it. My division was short staffed and they eventually needed me to go up in order to accomplish the task. I was not happy to say the least. On board, we are allowed to listen to music every once in a while and my division had been listening to B.o.B.’s “Don’t Let Me Fall” the past couple days while on watch so as I climbed 150 feet in the air all I could do was sing the lyrics, “What goes up, must come down, don’t let me fall.” Usually you climb on the outside so you don’t have to climb with your back to the ocean so that way if you slip or fall, you fall on the ropes and not in the ocean. Except this time, they told me I had to climb on the inside, so there I went, climbing up 150 feet at a 35 degree angle coming more and more afraid of heights as I clambered up. I made it to the top with a few slips and a couple slideshows of my life flash before my eyes, but I did it! I survived! I had never been so happy to touch those teak decks. It was an amazing feeling to know what I had just accomplished and the fears I conquered, but once is enough for me.

 



More about Matt.

 

Idaho, Maine, Connecticut

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Bilodeau Photo I had three glorious weeks of leave this summer, half of which I spent in Idaho with my boyfriend and the other half in my home state of Maine. I could not have asked for better weather in either location. This summer I felt very adventurous on leave; I went zip lining, jet skiing, and hiking a few times. I went blueberry picking and boating; I saw my grandparents, cousins, and aunt and uncle, and I ate my favorite Maine foods.

 

Now it is nearing the end of a relaxing time on leave and I am getting nervous to go back to school. It will take a little time to get into the swing of things. I am ready to get together with the volleyball team and practice hard for a great season. I am excited to see my friends and head to a new company with a new roommate and be on the forth floor in Hotel. I am not so ready for the academic stress and waking up at 0600 every morning but after a few days my body will remember how it feels.

 

I am glad it is finally 3/c year and I cannot wait to listen to music out loud, play the Wii after I finish my homework, and walk like a normal human through Chase Hall. It will be a great privilege to gain our rec gear and earn Friday night liberty. I am even excited to take more classes related to my major and really have a great start to 3/c year.

 



More about Christina.

 

From Station to Eagle to Home and Back to the Academy

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Cantrell Photo What a summer I had! I left the Academy on May 5th to go to a small boat station, Station Georgetown in South Carolina. It was an amazing experience and I learned so much. The crew at the station was so helpful and taught me so much about life in the fleet. I was able to go out on the small boats almost every day and participated in multiple training evolutions. I was also able to go down to Sector Charleston and speak with officers to learn more about sector life and what operations go on there. The exposure to the Coast Guard I got on first phase was incredible. It showed me that this is the service I want to be a part of and how lucky I am to be part of this family.

 

After six weeks in South Carolina I headed to Baltimore, Maryland to board the USCGC Eagle. We sailed for two weeks up to Boston, which was an awesome experience. Underway was very exhausting with little sleep and constant work, but it was well worth it because I learned so much and got to interact with different people working in different departments. We stayed in Boston for about a week, which was really nice because we had liberty and I was able to see the city. I also went to the Blue Man Group and it was the highlight of my time in Boston; I recommend it! Once we left Boston we sailed down to New London with Admiral Papp the commandant of the Coast Guard, which was a really unique experience because he hadn’t been on Eagle since he was the commanding officer. We departed from New London and headed up to Halifax, Nova Scotia, which was a week and a half underway. Halifax was a very neat city and I would love to go back and visit more. The best part of Eagle was getting to know my classmates so well. I got close to a lot of people my 4/c year, but once on Eagle you have more time to talk with your friends and classmates and you get to know everyone so well. I had a great group of girls in my berthing area and made some really great friends.

 

After a successful summer experience in the fleet I flew home to Florida and was able to spend three weeks of fun in the sun. Leave was very relaxing; I did something in the sun every single day and hung out with friends and family. It’s fun to go back and see how the first year went for all of my high school friends. I even went to the University of Florida to visit my brother, which was a great time, but made me realize that I would not want to be at a university and I am so happy I am in the Coast Guard and attending the Academy.

 

The corps came back on Sunday and it has been pretty hectic around Chase Hall. It is very different being a 3/c and realizing that you don’t have to square corners or meals or do clocks. It is a good feeling to say the least! I am all packed in so I haven’t been too stressed. The academic year starts on Monday and I am nervous, but I know it will be a good year and I’ll get through it. I’m really excited to see what this year brings after an awesome summer!

 



More about Sara.

 

3/c Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Kearney Photo Wow, it has been quite a while since I have written one of these. A lot has happened since my last entry. At this exact moment I am sitting in an Amtrak train, my ear buds jammed in firm as I listen to a new album I just received from one of my best friends back home. This is the normal setting I am in when I start thinking I should write another blog. Summer leave expires tonight and it has been an eventful summer for sure.

 

Oh, where to start? Summer began with my first airplane trip (not counting any from when I was a wee youngin’) to the great state of Maryland. The first phase of my summer was to Station Annapolis, where I would be working alongside junior enlisted in various aspects of the Coast Guard. This included a lot of grunt work such as washing the boats, cleaning the station, and even leveling bricks in the front lawn. But this also included going out on the small boats nearly every day I was on duty with the crew and finally experiencing what it was like to be in the “real” Coast Guard. I even participated in helicopter operations in only my second day at the station. This consisted of a very nervous version of myself pulling onto the boat a rescue basket thrown from a Jayhawk many times. I also got to go out with the crew on many maritime events and witnessed many boardings.

 

Station life was great; on my free time I mostly ran in preparation for this upcoming cross country season, but I also went out a lot with cadet Hasbrook, who was also with me at the station. Since D.C. and Baltimore were short drives away, frequent trips were made there, as well as to the extremely beautiful downtown Annapolis. The Navy cadets are very fortunate in that regard.

 

The nice life at the station was about to end, however, when phase 2 of my summer arrived: USCGC Eagle.

 

Now Eagle has been a very interesting part of my cadet career thus far. The Barque Eagle is the three masted training prison, I mean vessel that most cadets are forced… I mean offered to sail on for five or six weeks of the summer. I’m just kidding about the prison part but Eagle is meant to be hard work. It was a great experience for all of us since it was the first time for many of us to be out at sea for more than a week at a time. While on the ship we all participated in sail stations, watch on deck work, engineering activities, support (which included making the food and/or cleaning the dishes) and my favorite, operations. Operations was my last week on the ship, and even though I got fairly ill that last week, it was great being up on the bridge where I could see exactly what was going on with the decisions about where the ship was going to go.

 

My favorite part about Eagle, besides being able to see dolphins, whales, sharks, turtles, and the sunrise and sunset in the middle of the ocean while standing upon any one of the three masts, was working alongside my best friends 24/7. Even though it has only been one year, I already have made lifelong friends, and Eagle definitely strengthened those relationships. Port calls were also amazing. We stopped at Boston, New London and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Boston was incredible; I would love to live there in the future. Canada was also a new, great experience. I would go back in a heartbeat.

 

And finally, the last phase of my summer was the much-anticipated summer leave. Summer leave was wonderful; I was able to finally hang out with my old high school friends and enjoy being with my family. But as I knew, three weeks would fly by, and as I have already said, I am still on this train, heading toward my 2nd year at the Academy. It’ll be another challenging year, but with all I have experienced so far, and with what is coming up in the future, I know it’ll be worth it.

 



More about Zachary.

 

Our Eagle Journey

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Bilodeau Photo Our first Eagle port call was in Boston, Massachusetts where we spent the 4th of July. That day was incredible and will always stay in my mind. We cruised Boston Harbor with the USS Constitution with the Blue Angels flying overhead, and cadets standing on the yards of the sails. It was amazing to see so many boats, people, and aircraft come together to celebrate Independence Day. After July 4th, we headed to New London and had Change of Command where the new Eagle Commanding Officer took over and started our journey to Halifax. Throughout our Eagle journey, here were so many dolphins, whales, and sharks that we identified in the water. A few times when we had watch in the middle of the night we came across patches of bioluminescent algae in the water, which made the ocean glow as if you were dropped into the movie Avatar.

 

Although there were definitely hard times on Eagle and times when you did not want to climb the rigging or haul on lines, it is easy to remember the positive aspects and remind yourself that everyone has to go through the tedious or annoying negative aspects as well. Eagle was also a great place to meet a lot more classmates and bond with the girls in my berthing area. We had a day of liberty in Halifax, Nova Scotia, then it was time to go on leave!

 



More about Christina.

 

From One Cutter to Another

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Bilodeau Photo The last two weeks we were on the USCGC Healy we went underway twice for about five days each. It was a great experience and we learned a lot about the crew, Healy’s missions, and what life would be like on an icebreaker. The whole time we were underway we tried getting our qualifications and sign-offs completed. It was time for Healy to do underway drills, such as fire, flooding, man overboard, and abandon ship drills. We participated in some of the drills and shadowed the crew to learn the initial response for each situation. Sometimes the drills seemed monotonous but it is better to be safe and learn how to handle serious emergencies early. We moored in the beautiful city of Victoria, British Colombia where we caught our plane the next morning to head to Eagle.

 

Arriving in Baltimore, we reported to Eagle mid-June and started our journey throughout the northeast. It was so nice seeing many of my friends and classmates after six weeks. Underway on Eagle for the first 10 days was tiring but I certainly learned a lot. The group of 3/c that I was with as a division was a great group; we bonded well, taught each other random knowledge, and helped each other stay focused.

 



More about Christina.

 

Exploring Seattle

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Bilodeau Photo Finals week is behind me and I ended the second semester strong. On May 5th, I headed to CGC Healy. Healy is a 420-foot icebreaker out of Seattle, Washington. I have never been to Seattle, so that was an amazing adventure. Healy was undergoing dockside maintenance so the 16 of us 3/c that were assigned to the ship worked from 0700-1300 and had many days to explore the city. The Coast Guard base is only about two miles from downtown so I walked to Pike’s Market or went for strolls by the water every chance I got. I remember it raining maybe twice the entire time we were in Seattle.

 

Some days we took the morale bikes to explore, went to baseball games, or visited museums and the Space Needle. My uncle lives in Seattle so I visited him a few times, gaining an additional perspective on the city. I felt privileged to go to Seattle and spend time with 15 of my classmates, which really helped me get to know new friends.

 



More about Christina.

 

Admissions: My First Billet After Graduation!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Glock Photo I have a very unique billet (job assignment) following graduation because it is not a normal trackline followed by graduates. You see, about 85% of graduates go to sea, 10% to flight school, and 5% to sectors. Yet, my assignment is none of these! Well, for now at least...

 

I will be reporting to flight school in September, however, until then I am stationed at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's Admissions division. I helped to supervise the Academy Introductory Mission (AIM) program and gave briefs to visitors. I requested Admissions as my summer tour before flight school for two reasons: one, because I wanted to avoid the grueling Pensacola summer, and two, because I worked a lot with the Admissions division as a cadet and knew I would be happy working with the amazing staff.

 

It is certainly interesting to go from applying to the Academy to being a cadet to working as an Admissions Officer and being able to see all three sides. I bring a unique perspective to the team, especially being a recent graduate and knowing the latest answers to questions about cadet life and regulations.

 

Many of my friends think I am 'crazy' for asking to stay at the Academy – after all, I have spent the last four years of my life here. Yet, I built very strong relationships with faculty and cadets here, and I honestly wasn't ready to head off to Florida. The break of school work was great and I am now fueled and ready to go for flight school in one month!

 



More about George.

 

Learning from the Sea Itself

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo Life could be worse, right? After all, how many people get to say that they’ve sailed on a tall ship during OpSail 2012. My Eagle experience was amazing! I love being underway, with friends and shipmates, and with lots to do.

 

One hundred fifty of my closest friends and I traveled down from New London to Baltimore, Maryland, by bus to board Eagle. And after only one day in port, we sailed forth from Baltimore. In fact, the only times we turned on the engine between Baltimore and Boston were transiting the Chesapeake Bay and entering Boston Harbor. Within a few days of leaving the Chesapeake Bay behind, I remembered what I’d forgotten to pack: my sea-legs. Unfortunately, I get seasick, but I recovered well by staying busy and eating more. (Believe it or not, saltine crackers are good at keeping your stomach full, but not full enough to puke!) Another must-have essential for sea is sunscreen—and aloe when you forget/choose not to wear it. By the time we had reached Boston, I had steered the ship several times, learned all 193 pins on Eagle and what lines they hold, and knew exponentially more about sailing. Not all of my training was above decks, however. I spent a week in the engine room learning about the different systems aboard, how compartments are numbered, and how the engine works. After engineering week, I transferred to support week, working for the cooks and assorted staff. That week was long and rough—Eagle produces thousands of dishes, and is the home to thousands of dust microbes, which all need to be cleaned daily. I was glad to reach Boston.

 

Being in Boston for the Fourth of July in uniform was eye-opening. I’d never thought about how our country came into being, or what I was serving before walking the Freedom Trail. All the historic sites were fascinating and informative. On July 4th, we awed Boston by getting underway with “Old Ironsides,” the USS Constitution. We sailed around Boston Harbor and exchanged 21-gun salutes with various ships and installations around the waterfront. My favorite part of the entire evolution was manning the yards: select cadets got to climb on TOP of the yards (the horizontal beams that the sails hang from) while underway in the harbor. It was terrifying, especially when I wasn’t clipped in with my safety harness, but I ended up enjoying it immensely. I had a lot of fun doing that! I was sad to leave Boston, but we had to sprint to New London for CAPT Jones’ change of command ceremony.

 

I didn’t realize how much work went into a change of command ceremony, but a lot of effort is involved. I think we ended up cleaning the entire ship—it felt like we were cleaning it with a toothbrush! At least the ceremony went smoothly and we got underway for the last leg to Halifax. For me, that was the best part, because we knew that we’d be done in a few days. Even better was the fact that I wasn’t on support week anymore! From New London to Halifax, I mainly concentrated on achieving a Quartermaster of the Watch qualification. The QMOW, as that position is known, helps the conning officer and the officer of the deck with the safe navigation by maintaining the necessary logs, plotting our position, course, and speed of advance on the chart, and providing recommendations for courses. Being a QMOW is a lot of work, but I loved the extra opportunity to be on the bridge. The hardest part of working to get this qualification was the fact that I would lose sleep, because there is no extra time in your Eagle schedule to work on qualifications. (A side note here: break-ins work a one-in-three schedule, which translates to four hours on, six or eight hours off, four on, six or eight off, etc.) But one of my favorite teachers, LT Jody Maisano, motivated me to get qualified. I managed to get all my signoffs and take a board the last day possible—the last day underway, before we moored in Halifax!

 

After all my fun adventures on Eagle, and being with all my friends, I finally got some time to relax and be with my family. The three weeks of leave cadets get at the end of each summer is worth it, and I have made the most of it. This summer has been eye-opening in many ways. First, I reaffirmed for myself why I want to be in the Coast Guard. It’s not about being an officer—it’s about helping others; “Always Ready” means so much more now. Secondly, I learned from those whom my classmates and I will be leading in a few short years—learning, and leadership, goes both ways, and pays no attention to what you have on your shoulders. Thirdly, going to sea is fulfilling. I might lack sea-legs at first, but that is a simple obstacle to overcome. It’s hard to describe, but underway, I feel relaxed and happy, even at the end of a twenty-hour day! Sometimes, it is a good thing to get away from everything. In my career, I will go to sea gladly until I don’t feel relaxed underway. And I hope, and believe, that day will never come! Now, when I return to the Academy in mid-August, I will be ready for the challenges of 3/c year: new 4/c to mentor, classes, sports, life in general. I can’t wait: for the new school year, for crew, for cadre summer!

 

(Email me at Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu if you have any questions or comments. It’s great to hear from readers!)

 



More about Peter.

 

On Eagle’s Wings

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Gurtler Photo Considering just how old and the extensive history behind the ship, it truly is a unique opportunity to travel aboard the U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle. After all, how many people in this world can say they sailed the sea in such style? I spent the first six weeks of my summer aboard “America’s Tall Ship”; I boarded in Savannah, Georgia, then sailed up to New York City for Fleet Week, then to Norfolk, Virginia for OpSail, and finally down the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, I hopped on a flight to Wilmington, North Carolina to spend another six weeks at small boat Station Oak Island.

 

Being from the Midwest, I really enjoyed our port calls. I had never been to most of the cities we ventured to and meeting the sailors onboard the other tall ships was an added treat. My family flew in to Norfolk from Wisconsin to visit me. It was really special to give a private tour of the ship to my little brother who is currently applying to the Academy.

 

While on Eagle, my classmates and I all qualified in “Helm and Lookout” and “Soundings and Securities.” Each week we stood watch and had duties in a different part of the ship, including the engine room, mess, helm/lookout, and watch on deck. Each task was equally important. All in all, it is pretty crazy to believe that just a year ago I was beginning Swab Summer and now I’m standing by myself at the helm of a 279 foot cutter.

 



More about Victoria.

 

Two Weeks as Cadre and Sailing with Swabs

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Capuzzi Photo Well, my two weeks of serving as an Echo Company cadre have come and gone. The experience I have looked forward to since Swab Summer 2010 is over.

 

It began at around 1330 on Sunday, July 15. The off-going cadre section took the Swabs down to the Honor Wall and told them about why they chose the Coast Guard Academy. Once the swabs were waiting on the bulkhead, we made our entrance, kicking open a set of double doors and marching down the passageway in front of them. Then we introduced ourselves and spoke about our goals for the summer. This was all in the first minute of my cadre experience, but the pace didn’t let up for the following two weeks.

 

Day after day, we corrected deficiencies. Eyes not in the boat, failing to greet upper-class cadets, using personal pronouns…the list could go on forever. Sometimes the correction was simply verbal, albeit very loud. For more egregious mistakes, we used incentive training. Yelling at a swab might remind him or her to fix these problems, but push-ups typically serve as a better motivator.

 

A full day as a swab is exhausting, but a full day as a cadre is even more so. We’re out of bed, showered, shaved, and in uniform before the swabs even wake up. Then after a day of leading morning calisthenics, performing incentive training, and running from place to place, we put them to bed and have long meetings where we discuss the day’s events and plan for the next day. By the time that is done, we’re lucky to get five hours of sleep.

 

Dealing with swabs in Chase Hall was only part of my job description, though. My main focus was teaching them how to sail down at Jacob’s Rock, the Coast Guard Academy’s waterfront sailing center. Day after day, my fellow waterfront cadre and I would discuss wind and weather, points of sail, upwind and downwind sailing, and a host of other topics. Following classroom instruction, we’d help them rig up dinghies, either 420s or FJs, and send them out to go sailing. Then we would mount up in our rigid-hulled inflatable boats and coach them out on the Thames River.

 

As a member of the Offshore Sailing team, I also participated in coaches’ time. During the summer, swabs are allotted time to visit coaches for the sports in which they have an interest. For the Offshore Team, we take them out on our Colgate 26 sailboats and give them a chance to sail something a bit bigger than the dinghies they’ve used during their waterfront sessions.

 

The waterfront cadre also organized and executed the Walk of Honor for the Class of 2016. The Walk of Honor is a nighttime stroll through Robert Crown Park. On the way, the swabs are introduced to the history of the Coast Guard, running into people like Alexander Hamilton and Ida Lewis. At the end, they wind up at the tomb of Hopley Yeaton, the first commissioned officer of the Revenue Cutter Service, the forerunner of the Coast Guard. At the tomb, they are welcomed into the Long Blue Line, the group of honorable men and women who have attended the Coast Guard Academy in the past. It is a powerful ceremony that often leaves a lasting impression on the swabs.

 

Now that my time as a cadre is over, I am looking forward to a week of learning about marine safety at Sector New York. The conclusion of the marine safety program will also be the conclusion of the summer. It’s hard to believe that another school year is already upon us.

 



More about Nick.