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cadet blogs

DADT One Year Later

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo Just a quick entry here…

 

Last night was the Academy’s celebration of the one-year anniversary of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. DADT, as I’m sure everyone knows, was the military’s discriminatory policy against homosexuals—if you came out, you got out. However, last year, the Armed Forces implemented a repeal of this policy and ushered in a new era of equality.

 

To celebrate the anniversary, CGA’s Spectrum Club (the first of its kind at a military academy—more proof that we don’t fit the typical stereotype!) hosted a formal dinner in the Officers’ Club. Various people from the Coast Guard LGBTQ community joined us in the Coast Guard’s only commemoration of the anniversary. For me, hearing their stories about life pre-repeal, and how they serve openly now, really drove home the impact of DADT since its implementation in 1993. As one speaker mentioned, over 13,000 people were forced out of the Coast Guard because they were LGBTQ. Sad indeed.

 

I’d like to close this entry by noting the importance of helping to foster an environment of equality for all my shipmates. As yet another speaker noted at the dinner last night, the environment aboard cutters and at isolated units still needs to be improved, so that all receive the same right to serve their country. I only hope that as an ensign I can help further that goal. Ship, shipmate, self—as you are taught during Swab Summer, always watch out for your shipmates. I am proud of the work that the Academy and Spectrum are doing to watch out for our shipmates.

 



More about Peter.

 

What Happened?

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Krakower Photo Whelp. Back at the CGA, and man, is everything different. No longer being a fourth class, my life here militarily has become much, much (much) more relaxed. While there’s room to stop and slip by through the cracks, I still try to maintain my military work through my division (Recruitin!) and through helping the 4/c adjust to their new non-swab lives. I also was selected for a spot in the Color Guard, so that’s been quite a grand time as well doing those events. Academics this semester are much better than last year, and I’m doing great in most of my classes. From that aspect, life has improved greatly in Chase Hall.

 

While all that’s fine and dandy, to say it’s perfect wouldn’t exactly be correct. Command has basically eliminated late racks, and they are now rare to come by. Family-style breakfast every morning is quite the annoyance as well. Still, we live on. In comparison, it’s a small sacrifice for free education and a guaranteed job in the long run.

 

In terms of extracurricular activities, it’s been as fun as it was last year. Mock Trial and MUN are government fun for me, and now that I’m more used to the clubs, I’m getting better jobs to do. Glee Club/Idlers have had numerous performances, and we will be going on a MD/DC/NYC trip in November which I’m excited for. Fall Lacrosse also has a Maryland trip coming up, so that’ll be great as well! And to sum it up, I got the lead in our fall show, Don’t Drink the Water. So aside from memorizing more lines than I had things to memorize over Swab Summer, that’s also been a blast!

 

While I miss the Operational CG, the Academy is a different way of me to prepare myself for the future. I saw MKC Gonzales, one of the Engineering Petty Officers at my Station in Alabama, walk right out of Dimick Hall the other day. Proves the Coast Guard really is small, and you’ll see the people you’ve worked with all the time. He told me to keep at the academics, and now that I’ve seen what’s waiting for me outside these gates, to try to prepare for that when the time comes.

 

Go 3/c, Beat Physics!

 



More about Samuel.

 

Things are Getting Real

(Academics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Townsend Photo When I first chose Civil Engineering as a major I was little thrown off by the amount of humanities and writing classes that we had to take because I expected just science classes. I have now reached that point where I am taking strictly major specific classes and I could not be any happier about that. I actually just got back from a lab where we found the specific gravity and did a sieve analysis of fine aggregate, which in other words means we found the weight of very fine rocks. This type of real life application of what we learn in classes is exactly what I looked forward to when choosing this major. I now realize that taking all of those classes during my first two years here was worth it because I now am a better writer when it comes to writing up my engineering reports.

 

Now that the semester has started it also means that football season has begun which is my favorite part of the year because it means that dance team is also performing! I love spending time with my teammates every afternoon and practicing our routines to perform during the half time of every football game for our families and friends. This year has been a lot of fun so far because the team now collectively choreographs each dance together and every one gets to put their own little part in each dance. I am ecstatic for our next big performance, which will be Homecoming weekend because every year the alumni appreciate us more and more because the majority of them did not have a dance team when they went here.

 

As the semester continues I think there will be only more good things to come , and I look ahead to these times.

 



More about Brianna.

 

So Much Better

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Cantrell Photo September has been one busy month and its only half way over! It always takes a while to get back into the normal routine of school, sports, and military, but I have finally settled in. We had the Secretary’s Cup on September 8th, which was full of school spirit and fun. The Merchant Marine Academy came to the Coast Guard Academy to play soccer, volleyball, and football. The Coast Guard Academy won both the volleyball game and soccer game, but lost to their football team. It was a really fun Saturday for me because I was able to see my friend who attends the Merchant Marine Academy, who I haven’t seen in months. I also got to see Cathy, who is a second class here but is on exchange this semester at West Point.

 

This past week was full of homework and tests for most of the corps, but now it’s the weekend and we can all take a breather. I can’t believe we are already two weeks into September and before I know it, it will be October. Next weekend I’m going to a country concert, which I’m really excited about because I’ve never been so it should be a lot of fun. Fall semester is always a lot of fun for the corps of cadets and the morale is very high.

 

Third class year is SO MUCH BETTER then last year. You realize how much you got through and know that now you can do almost anything. As I walk around the p-ways I catch myself feeling badly for the fourth class because I know how hard it is for them right now, but I have to remind myself that everyone goes through it and it only makes you a stronger leader. I just hope that the fourth class will not lose sight of the reasons they chose to attend the Coast Guard Academy and not allow the daily life as a fourth class cadet to overpower that purpose. This year I am in Foxtrot Company and have a great group of shipmates. We all work really well together and get everything done that needs to be accomplished. Our Company Officer and Company Chief are also really great. I respect their leadership styles and hope that when I become an Officer I can serve my subordinates to the same standard as they do.

 

Diving starts up on September 24th and I am beyond excited for this season! We have a new fourth class who is from California and is an amazing diver. He should be a really great addition to our team. We also got a new coach this year and I am very excited to work with her and improve my diving skills. My goals for this year are to break my records that were set last year and make it to Nationals. With a lot of hard work and determination, I know I can do it! As always, if anyone has questions feel free to send them my way. Even though I’m not a fourth class anymore I remember it very clearly and will be able to answer any questions pertaining to life as a fourth class. Sara.E.Cantrell@uscga.edu 

 



More about Sara.

 

School Has Been a Blur

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Duplessis Photo It feels like we just got back, yet I’ve already been here for more than a month. Of course it’s busy as usual with soccer and school, however there is a lot less stress this year since I don’t have to worry about 4/c duties. It’s nice to be able to help my own 4/c and those on the soccer team and in my company since I was in their position a few months ago.

 

One of the highlights of school for me this year was attending the MMA (Kings Point) games here at the Academy. Because of my soccer schedule last year, I had to miss my school’s football, men’s soccer, and volleyball team play our rivals from the Merchant Marine Academy. The games are all really competitive, and it was awesome to cheer on each team as well as compete with the cheering section from KP. One 4/c in my company actually climbed onto the KP boat from the water, which they moor next to our dock every year, and stole their flag! It got pretty intense after that! We ended up winning the volleyball and soccer games (with the men’s soccer team winning for the first time in more than ten years), and the football game was close until the final whistle.

 

The weather is just now starting to turn into Fall weather, and so far it’s been great seeing my friends and hearing about their summers. School is busy, but so far it’s been good to be back.

 



More about Lindsay.

 

Run Baby Run

(Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Wu Photo As the new academic year starts so does my cross country season. I loved running since my freshmen year in high school and this year I am looking forward to this new cross country season. This season will definitely be a challenge because of many factors of underpreparing for this season. I am coming into this season lacking the conditioning I got over Swab Summer and also an injury last spring. It is a lot harder to work back to the shape I was previously in, but I know what I am capable of and I am determined to slowly get back into shape and have a fun cross country season. I am excited to work hard and see where that leads me this season after this weekend’s meet.

 

The women’s cross country team had their first meet yesterday and we were able to place 3rd overall as a team! It was not the best race for any of us really, but it was not bad either. It was a solid race to start the season off with and I know I can only improve from here!

 

“Lace up your shoes, ay oh ay oh, Here’s how we do, RUN BABY RUN!”

 



More about Ellie.

 

Back to Work

(Academics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Martin Photo Well, we’re all back in the swing of things here at grand ol’ CGA. We are all settled into the groove, but there are still plenty of bumps. It is no doubt going to be a really tough academic semester and I’m already feeling the heat, but the classes are fun for the most part. Being in marine environmental sciences, I get to have some cool labs outside and learn about relevant things to everyday life like the plants around us or the weather above our heads.

 

One of my favorite classes is Marine Biology. Our very first lab, we all jumped in vans and rode over to Waterford Beach to study the estuary habitat located there. Basically, we got to play at the beach, catch crabs, eat edible plants, sun tan, and learn about some cool things to brag about the next time you’re at the beach. Let’s just say it was much better than sitting in Multivariable Calculus class… The teachers are all really helpful and I am happy I chose this major now.

 

The big challenge for me this semester will be being able to balance my new EMT class with my regular classes. The EMT class meets for 20 hours a week on top of the 27 hours of my CGA classes per week. I asked a buddy back home how they judged credit hours for his college. He said the number of hours in class per week is your amount of credits. Well, by normal standards, I am taking 47 credit hours, a little more than the 16 for a normal full-time student. So it’s a busy semester, but it’s all fun stuff to learn about. The EMT class will get me to be a nationally registered EMT by Christmas, which is essential information wherever you go, but especially in the Coast Guard. I will also be able to volunteer medical supervision for sporting events and the like around campus. So that is exciting, even if it means a few less z’s.

 

With the EMT class, it's impossible to go on trips on the weekends because a bulk of the class is on the weekends so I’m sorry that I don’t have any travel adventures to talk about, and that will be the case for the rest of the semester. Not too much play this semester, but it will be worth it in the end.

 



More about Matt.

 

Standing a Taut Watch…

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo So, I’m sitting in an empty library around 2300, waiting to be secured. The school year has hit me like a ton of bricks—all of my classes are hard and involve what seems to be an inordinate amount of reading and writing. I now understand why everyone counts down to the next long weekend or leave period.

 

My hardest classes this semester are definitely Ships and Physics. These two classes are technical, core classes for all cadets. Ships is an introductory course in naval architecture—what makes a ship float or capsize, how can you calculate it, and why it is important for us as future officers to be cognizant of this. I like it for the basic concepts, even if all the equations fly right over my head. My first test (on Monday) will tell me how I am really doing in that class. Physics is my other difficult class, mostly because I have never taken Physics before. The Physics Department is using a new method of teaching this year that emphasizes group work and collaboration compared to traditional lecturing. It takes a little getting used to, but at least the math makes sense!

 

The hardest part of this semester seems to be my time management. I cannot for the life of me work efficiently. I have been getting to bed later and later each night; last night I went to sleep around midnight and had to wake up at 0600. Hopefully, this trend will reverse itself quickly.

 

To end on a bright note, the MMA game is on Saturday. GO BEARS, BEAT MERCHANT MARINE! The Corps’ morale is really high, which is good—it makes the days bearable. I saw an outstanding “gangster” clock today, and the watchstanders get to pipe cool songs before formations. Now we just need to keep the morale high for the rest of the semester.

 

If you have any questions, please email me at Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu. I’m stuck monitoring the library tonight. Night, all!

 



More about Peter.

 

The Beginning of the End

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2013) Permanent link
Ward Photo As I finish up the last year at the Academy, I am reminded of all the lasts I have left. My last first day of class. My last CAP week. My last Head of the Charles regatta. My last Labor Day Retreat. My last guaranteed Christmas break. The list continues. This is truly the beginning of the end of my time here at the Academy.

 

For Mechanical Engineers at the Academy, fall semester 1/c year is said to be the hardest and it is living up to its reputation. Classes are meant to challenge and bring together the past 3 years of learning in a culminating project known as Capstone. In addition, by first class year you are the leader in the activities you participated in the previous years. So in addition to being a Mechanical Engineer, I lead a division, am co-captain of the women’s crew team, participate on the Habitat for Humanity 2013 Council, help with Officer’s Christian Fellowship, and, and, and. The great thing about it all is that everything that I am a part of is something I really enjoy which make the overwhelming parts worth it.

 

So as I look towards the approaching end, I remind myself I have plenty of months to stretch out the time with friends, and only two more semesters until I am done with school. It isn’t over yet, for better or worse.

 



More about Jessica.

 

Catching Up

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Ruth Photo It has been a long two years! I have been a part of so many things, which now I have time to write about. Since my first post (and only post), I have survived 4/c year, sailed around the world (almost), weathered the engineering academics of 3/c year, and taken part in the life-changing 11-week cadre summer. This summer was a time of growth and maturity for the Swabs of 2016, but more importantly, our Great Class of 2014. We experienced a new aspect of the Coast Guard each week and got a taste of various paths we could pursue in the future. I visualize the summer in three categories: Classroom Learning, Coast Guard Application, and Leadership Development.

 

Classroom Learning involved a week of Rules of the Road (ROTR), which is driver’s ed for the ocean. I had this class right after my three weeks of leave, so I was well rested and able to really take in all of the information. As a follow up to the classroom material, all of the 2/c either participated in the two week Coastal Sail program on the new Leadership 44’s or sailed around the Thames for a week on the Colgates. I sailed on the Colgates, which was really interesting because we got to explore the river and everything around the Academy’s waterfront. We used our ROTR knowledge to properly navigate our way past ferries and passing traffic all the way to Fisher’s Island for a day trip.

 

Coast Guard Application was a larger portion of the summer, including a trip to the Elizabeth City CG Air Station for the Cadet Aviation Training Program or CATP, a week on T-boats, and a week of pistol range. Elizabeth City (although a 17 hour drive away) was so amazing! The aviation community in the Coast Guard is so different from ship life. The pilots were all so very proud of everything they had accomplished and were eager to get us excited. We all got to be hoisted into a helicopter from the water as a training exercise for the rescue swimmers. It was difficult leaving after having so much fun at work! T-boats was a lot of fun as well. We got to apply everything we had ever learned on a boat and drive around (a bit recklessly, might I add) and try not to hit anything. We went over many standard procedures throughout the Coast Guard so we will know what to do when we go to our next units. There were eight cadets and one LT on board and we had such a great time. Range week was also a highlight for me. I had never really shot a gun before, but the staff down at the range was great. I qualified my first round as Sharpshooter! 100% of 2014 qualified, which has only happened one other time at the Academy.

 

The Leadership Development phase of the summer was definitely the most gratifying, humbling, and rewarding time of my life. Believe me when I say it was a privilege to be a Foxtrot cadre. All 28 of my swabs had an immense impact on my life and I thank each and every one of them for it. As much as they learned these past two months, the cadre learned even more and we couldn't have done it without them. Although I was definitely the cadre that yelled the most, I absolutely respected and cared for every swab because they made the same decision I did two years ago. To any Foxtrot parents reading, it was an honor to work with your son or daughter and I hope to someday work with them in the fleet. I didn’t know what it was like to be truly responsible for someone else until July 8th. It was so easy to forget to brush my own teeth even though I yelled down the hall every night for them to brush theirs…

 

It is absolutely true that 2/c summer is the best summer of your Academy career. It is amazing to see where I have been in these past two years, but it is crazier to see where I will go.

 



More about Anna.

 

Tanning in the Desert

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link
Ward Photo The third part of my summer was spent at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I worked in the Robotics Department on an assortment of projects. Most of what I did was spend time in front of a computer researching how to work with programming and certain electronics. It was frustrating at times, especially the start when I had no concept of how/where to begin, but the people were awesome and the time flew by. The working environment at Sandia was so different from the Academy and military in general. The hours weren’t as structured, the uniform was civilian clothes and I was a first name basis with everyone, including people with multiple Ph.D.s. I went biking with my boss and co-workers, I attended trainings and heard guest speakers, and I met with other faculty and staff to learn about their missions and jobs. I can’t speak of most of what I saw, but it opened my eyes to the possibilities of engineering and studying outside of the Coast Guard.

 

Outside of work, other the students from other service academies and I went on road trips, hiking, biking, on trams, out to eat, celebrated a few 21st birthdays, went swimming in a diving hole, explored the Carlsbad Caverns, went sledding on white sand, and just generally explored the area until time ran out and we left for our three weeks of leave at home.

 



More about Jessica.

 

Neverland No More

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo Last year (fourth class year) and through the summer, I struggled to come to terms with the fact that I am an adult—and one that is practically living “independently” (as in, not relying on my parents for much of anything). I felt as if time had stopped and I had stopped growing up at 17.5 years (middle of my senior year). Academics last year seemed strikingly like high school, and this summer felt oddly like a giant, regimented summer camp. Honestly, I was frustrated that I didn’t feel older, more mature. Until I returned to the Academy in the middle of August for the start of classes.

 

A number of factors contributed to my new sense of adulthood. First there was a new class below mine; we were no longer the “little ones.” Instead we are now the ones looking out for the fourth class. In addition, there are greater responsibilities placed on the third class (3/c)—such as being in charge of a day of watch (duty).

 

Academics also played a role in my perception change. This year I am taking more major-specific classes. While my course schedule has always been slightly different than my peers’ (as a result of the five classes validated [tested-out of]), this year everyone is taking classes in their major. There is a more diversified range of classes among my classmates; it no longer feels as if we are too young to pick our own classes, so they (the mysterious “they”) assign us all the same course load. But back to my major, Marine and Environmental Science (MES), the simple fact that I am taking classes to develop myself as a marine and environmental scientist astonishes me. I’m working toward being something—somebody—I will be for the rest of my life/professional career. I had this epiphany the other night as I was working on a detailed lab report about a local estuary; that made me feel like a college student.

 

And finally, I’ve taken on leadership roles in my extracurricular activities, too, which has required me to embrace a higher level of responsibility. I am a media specialist (as I call myself) for both Officers’ Christian Fellowship and the Sustainability Club (check out the video I made to promote the club: www.uscga.edu/campus.aspx?id=678 under ‘Videos’ on lower right hand side of the page). I attend the leadership meetings for OCF and make decisions about the Sustainability Club with the two other presidents and the advisers of the club.

 

I would say that all that time I thought had stopped has caught up with me, which required me to grow up quickly—or at least feel more grown up practically overnight. Sure, I’m still the spastic teenager (I’m still only 19) who likes jumping up and down to loud music and running around trying to lift others’ spirits by doing crazy things (like writing pop song parodies about classes or being a 4/c cadet), but when I step back and assess my life, comparing it to who I was a year ago, I feel more mature. But that’s just me…

 



More about Justin.

 

Boats Out of Water

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link
Ward Photo After rowing Nationals, I was sent to San Diego, California on the CGC Boutwell. It was the same cutter I was stationed on as a 3/c cadet. Since then, it had changed homeports and crews. Because rowing crew had cut into my summer, I was stationed on the Boutwell for about 18 days instead of the standard 42. Luckily, I had already completed many of the trainings 2 years ago onboard the cutter so I was able to qualify Security Watch within those few weeks.

 

When I first got the assignment to the CGC Boutwell, I was disappointed, as I had already experienced the exact same cutter. However, I am really happy I was sent back. The attitude and the operational success of the cutter had been transformed since I had last been aboard. It was awesome to see the difference in the cutters performance, the crew’s attitude toward not only cadets, but the Coast Guard in general. It was a great example to me about how leadership does have an impact.

 

But just as soon as I felt settled down, it was time to fly off to Albuquerque for my internship.

 



More about Jessica.

 

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

(Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2013) Permanent link
Ward Photo This past summer was one of the best of my life. It began in May when the Women’s Crew Team was selected for NCAA Nationals. Eight Division III schools are selected and we were one of them. Instead of immediately heading out for my summer unit, I stayed at the Academy with fellow rowers and trained. All we did was eat, sleep, work out, and hang out. Nationals were held in New Jersey and we went down the week of the event to train there. One night involved a huge banquet where all the rowers of all NCAA Divisions dressed up and celebrated their achievement in making it that far. We wore our Trops (a summer uniform) to the event. I was so proud that night of everything we had accomplished. We succeeded in attaining the same level athletically as these other rowers while going through so much else that they would never know about or understand. It was a great feeling. That week was Memorial Day weekend and the speaker gave the Coast Guard a shout out. One of the seniors, SJ Otey, won the academic award for having the highest GPA out of all Division III rowers. Pretty incredible. We ended up dominating the Petite Finals after not making it into the Grand Finals by a close photo finish. We quickly said goodbye to the seniors as they departed for their units and were transported to our summer assignments.

 



More about Jessica.

 

Wait, We’re Leaders Now?

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Lukasik Photo It’s a bigger jump than you realize, going from 3/c year to 2/c year, much greater than the step up from 4/c year. The end of our freshman ordeal at CGA was liberating – the magnitude of the new privileges and freedoms we gained was much greater than that of the new responsibilities we took on. Or, at least, those responsibilities felt somewhat familiar; almost all of us had once been a role modeler for someone, after all – a younger sibling, another student, a junior member of our sports team. We knew, at least in concept, how to guide someone from the vantage point of a slightly senior peer. It wasn’t such a stretch of the imagination. But the jump from role-modeler to mentor, to leader? That’s a big one.

 

We’ve been preconditioned to think of 2/c summer simply as “cadre summer,” our first big leadership experience, yet to limit the description of the experience such would do it discredit. 2/c summer presents leadership opportunities in contexts you wouldn’t have previously imagine.

 

As cadre, you lead a full company of scared, stumbling, untrained swabs through training ordeals of every shape and kind. You yell, you IT them, you run remedials, you threaten and persuade and entice them to achieve the desired competencies and attitudes and behaviors, all while trying keep at the rules, safety measures, schedules, and your own outside obligations straight in your head. You see your classmates, your peers that you’ve lived with in company for over a year, transform into people you wouldn’t expect – some for better, some for worse. You see yourself display traits you didn’t know you possessed.

 

Outside the cadre experience, on T-boats, you practice “Conning” – taking full responsibility for a motorized vessel as you guide a crew of your peers, acting in roles typically filled by Coast Guard enlisted deck force members, through various training evolutions. You consider the environment, the characteristics of your vessels, the placement of your people on deck, as you practice giving commands to achieve the results you desire: a successful man overboard recovery, an anchoring, a mooring. You learn how just how challenging it can be to control a vessel in an entirely “hands-off” manner. You develop confidence in your decisions and precision in your judgments.

 

On the Coastal Sail Training Program, you learn to lead not a group of subordinates, but a small team of your peers as you navigate a (dauntingly expensive) 44-foot sailboat around ports throughout the Northeast. You find yourself having to direct tasks that you may or may not know how to do yourself; thus, you must learn to adapt, pick up skills on the fly, use your peers’ knowledge and experience as resource, and pick up, process, and synthesize information from your environment to ensure the safe transit of your vessel and your crew. You sometimes cover more than 50 nautical miles in a single day. You’re sometimes in command of your boat for 10 or more hours at a time, with only minimal input and guidance from your safety officer. And through that, you truly develop the “liking for the sea and its lore” that Coastguardsmen are supposed to hold.

 

No, 2/c summer is not simply “cadre summer” – it’s a multifaceted crash-course in leadership, a leadership “immersion program”. For as fun as it is, it highlights the often daunting challenges that leadership positions present. When you’re in charge, when you make decisions that affect anywhere from a half dozen to several dozen individuals, the stakes are much higher than when your primary responsibility is for yourself. And if you aren’t ready for that authority…well, you have to grow up and step up to the plate very, very quickly.

 

Now, with the school year well underway, I can say beyond any doubt: this summer, the Class of 2014 did its “growing up” very well. We’re ready to move up in the corps and start our journey as upper-class and as leaders.

 



More about Jessie.

 

A Big Decision

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Zwenger Photo Well, lunch is about in 15 minutes so I’ll try and explain to you everything that has been going on in my mind. Two posts ago I talked about how great of a time I had at my station and three posts ago I talked about Eagle. What I didn’t mention was that since the beginning of the summer I was really starting to question what I was doing in the Coast Guard and if the Academy was the place for me. I think some of these problems began when I would talk to my friends at “regular college” and they would always say how much fun they were having. As you can see from my previous posts that was not always the case for me. Regardless, over break I sat down and talked to my parents and basically told them that I was leaving the Academy, however, I would go back just to finish out the semester. In my mind this was not a rash decision because I had been thinking about it all summer, but if I put myself in their shoes I can see how they would be a bit confused. Also when I was home I had people that I was comfortable talking to and knew they would give me an unbiased opinion, as opposed to my friends here who would tell me to stay.

So fast forward to when I get back to the Academy and for two weeks I kept all my thoughts and emotions to myself so they were building up inside me. Until I was about to snap about three days ago and had to Skype my friend Zach King (who I’ve known since preschool) and talked AT him for about 40 minutes. After a lot of venting and hearing what he had to say and some more thinking I decided to stay. This place gets 15 times better after your freshman year because you have your group of friends that you hang out with and you don’t have to put up with all stuff freshman have to do. I’ll talk more about what it’s like to be a sophomore later. Time to go! That’s all. Email me with questions.

 



More about Spencer.

 

Station Ponce De Leon Inlet Part 2

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Meyers PhotoWeek 4: More training, and more fun on liberty this week. I learn to love this place more and more each day. While the work we do each day can be challenging, it’s rewarding at the end of each work day to know what you’ve accomplished on your own and what you’ve learned. Something I like about this station is how they organize their sports/PT. On Monday mornings, the whole crew goes for a run. On Wednesdays, the crew plays a sport like volleyball or ultimate Frisbee, and on Friday, the crew is allowed to do whatever they want. What struck me was that most of the crew, while they could have gone off and done their own thing stuck back at the station and all played Ultimate Frisbee. To me that shows how much of a team they really are.

 

Week 5: Not only have I gotten to know the crew here, but I’ve learned a lot about my shipmates at the Academy. 3/c Zwenger, 3/c Westland, and 3/c Palenzuela are all great people that I look forward to spending time with at the Academy. 3/c Zwenger and I are probably the two closest to each other as we’ve been through the most together. We both biked 20 miles to Daytona to watch a NASCAR race one weekend and then 20 miles back and spend most of our weekend liberty together. The amount of time all of us spend together studying for the ROTR test and doing assorted tasks have allowed us get to know one another almost like family. We all came in here with some comprehensive goals and we’re all well on our way to accomplishing them.

 

Week 6: I really don’t want to leave Station Ponce. I’ve come to really like all the people here and I love the work I do every day. If it were up to me, I’d go on my 3 weeks of leave and just go back to Ponce as a junior enlisted member and move up the ranks, but that’s not going to happen. Coming in, I had quite a few goals and for all of them I at least made progress. I got my pepper spray letter, Sharpshooter in rifle (3 points from Expert), Marksman in pistol, Comms qualified, and a good deal of boat crew signed off. I filmed all the footage I’ll need to edit a Station video when I get back the Academy, and I got to take the ROTR test. Unfortunately neither me nor my shipmates passed, but we all came close and I’d like to take it again during the school year. As for the online courses, I touched the basics in both courses and learned quite a bit about both programming and systems in signals. This should better prepare me for the difficult academic year ahead for me. I’ve learned a lot, both about the enlisted members life and what their jobs are. I’ve also come to appreciate the hard work that the members at this station put in every single day. I hope that when I get into the fleet the people who work for me will be just as good and just as hard working. One major thing I’d like to take away from this experience is a leadership lesson: You may be granted authority, but you must earn respect. When I become an officer, I will do my best to be the hardest worker on the boat, to set a good example, and do everything in my power to help my enlisted members. They will be there for me as long as I’m there for them.

 



More about James.

 

Station Ponce De Leon Inlet Part 1

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Meyers PhotoWeek 1: The first week here has been great. It’s a nice change from Eagle in terms of the type of work we do and the setup for learning. Of course there’s still a long line of signoffs to get, just like there was on Eagle, but it seems the station is more concerned with giving us hands-on experience than signing our sheets. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet all the regular crew members and I can honestly say that they all are great people and I would enjoy working with them in the future. By the time I leave, I want to be Comms qualified, get as much boat experience as possible, make a promotional video for the station, take (and hopefully pass) the ROTR test, get pepper sprayed, become Pistol and Rifle qualified, complete an online programming course as well as a system and signals course, and most importantly learn all I can about the enlisted members.

 

Week 2: This week I’ve gotten to explore the town a little bit and see the area of responsibility both on the boat and on liberty. It’s a very small town where basically everyone knows each other and has a lot of older people who are living here in retirement communities (Minorca being the biggest right next to the station). The community here is very centered on beach and water life, which is significant to us because it’s our responsibility to protect the people here. 3/c Zwenger and I went on liberty together and while we were out, we stopped at the local surf shop. He bought a shirt and ended up not liking it, so attempted to return it without a receipt. At first the store manager refused because it was normally against store policy, but when he realized we were the cadets who were in early that week, he changed his mind and gave 3/c Zwenger a refund no problem. It’s great to know that the Coast Guard is appreciated by the locals.

 

Week 3: At this point in the summer training, life has become very routine and we’ve all gotten into the flow of things. I regularly stand watch in the Comms office and go out on the boats as often as possible. This week I had the unique opportunity of going out on the 47’ to train in surf conditions. There had been a large storm that had recently passed through, leaving approximately 8’-10’ waves to practice in. The feeling of going out in the conditions we did made me realize that I can’t wait to get out in the fleet and experience them for myself. While I will never be a 47’ CO, I know I’ll have the opportunity to fight through challenging environments in order to accomplish a mission. This is something that makes me want to become an officer.

 



More about James.

 

Summer 2012: Leave, CATP, Range, ROTR, T-Boats, CSTP, Prep, Cadre

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Anderson Photo I started off my summer with three weeks of leave. At the end of the last semester, I was in immense need of some time to myself. I had a great visit with family and friends, and returned to the Academy reenergized and refreshed.

 

To start off my summer training experience, I went to CATP (Cadet Aviation Training Program) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. While I was there I learned a lot about the aviation side of the Coast Guard, and got to do some pretty cool stuff. This included flights on two different C-130s, getting pulled out of the water in a basket and up into a Jayhawk for a “duck hoist” experience, and even driving fire trucks around the runways. We also got to know our fellow classmates much better and got some down time to get to know the officers and pilots. It was an awesome experience, that honestly made me think twice about flight school, but as of now, I’m still not seeing it in my future plans. I’m not discounting it, but at the same time I’m also not counting on it.

 

Upon my return to the Academy, I had range week, in which second class cadets were required to qualify marksman on pistol. It took me a few days, but in the end I managed to qualify—therefore causing another ribbon to need to be rigged on uniforms. And ironically, even after the struggle range week was, I am now on the shooting teams at the Academy, through a series of completely unrelated events.

 

The week after that was the one week of summer where I was required to legitimately study and focus on one thing, for the entirety of the week. During the day we had classroom sessions, and at night we had homework and were required to study for the Rules of the Road (Deck Watch Officer) exam. Once the exam has been passed with a closed book, however, for the rest of a person’s career the exam can be taken open book. Therefore, I decided studying was going to be my first priority, which allowed me to pass on my first try. I feel terrible for my classmates who have been/are still struggling to pass it, especially being that there will be consequences for those who do not.

 

Summer 2012: Leave, CATP, Range, ROTR, T-Boats, CSTP, Prep, Cadre (Continued) PDF Icon 

 



More about Meredith.