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cadet blogs

A Summer in Review

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hello CGA blog readers! It’s that time of year again, when everyone returns from their awesome summer assignments with stories to share and classes to look forward to. I was pretty up to speed with my blogs about the 2/c summer experience up until I became a cadre and got pretty busy. So I won’t waste words talking about my first few summer activities: Range, Rules of the Road, T-boats, and aviation training. However, looking back on my summer, the highs and the lows, I have to backtrack to mid-May. In May, I went into the doctors’ office because my shoulder was all out of sorts. I had dislocated it during a rugby match in early May, and I knew it was time to get it checked out. After an MRI, I learned I had severely torn my labrum (shoulder) and chipped a bone in my shoulder as well. With Swab Summer weeks away, I decided to wait to have surgery until after summer training. I don’t write that because I want people to pity the situation, or for people to think that I’m tough. I write that because I chose to forgo surgery to train the Class of 2018, and that passion to train the incoming swabs was more important to me than surgery. I would dare so far as to say that many of my fellow cadre had the same sense of passion about it as I did. So, for all the parents and future cadets out there, please know that your cadre are passionate about training you, and they chose to do your cadre for a reason.

 

Anyway, fast forward a couple months from May, and Swab Summer was just around the corner. I was home for a week off but I couldn’t get Swab Summer off my mind. Instead of living it up for that week, I spent hours reading books on leadership and preparing physically to train the incoming swabs. Additionally, I set goals for myself as a cadre. I wanted to be fair and respectful foremost. However, I also wanted to be a teacher. As cadre 1, it is easy to slip into a role of being a strict disciplinarian, but I wanted to break from that. Additionally, I wanted to instill a sense of pride in the Coast Guard and to teach them about what we do, in the hopes that it would unite them as a team and motivate them to perform.

 

As cadre 1, my job was to break down the civilian identities of the swabs; basically train them on uniform standards and drill; introduce the core values; and basically indoctrinate them. That is a high set of expectations, and I was lucky enough to have an excellent section of cadre to work with. We meshed well with personalities and work well as a team. After about a week, we were rolling as a team, supporting each other, backing each other up, and balancing the work load/responsibilities. By the end of week two, we were exhausted. People don’t realize, but cadre work just as hard as the swabs if they are doing it right. In addition to leading from the front and doing all the physical work that the swabs do, we have to figure out how to train them most effectively, and we have to take care of their physical and mental needs (like clinic visits and chaplain/counselor visits). We would stay up long after the swabs went to sleep, for me often not going to sleep until after midnight. We would discuss the day, what went well or didn’t go well, medical appointments, and we would plan for the upcoming day. As the last week arrived, we were exhausted and spent, but we pushed on.

 

A Summer in Review (Continued) 

 

More about Hunter.

 

Aruba, Jamaica, Ooh I Wanna Take Ya’

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo After San Juan, Puerto Rico; we sailed to Aruba; then Cozumel, Mexico; and ended in Miami, Florida. (Jamaica wasn’t one of our port calls, but we were singing the Beach Boys’ song “Kokomo” all the way from Puerto Rico to Aruba.)

 

My parents met me in Puerto Rico. They flew down from Pennsylvania and spent a week there to see me and to take a vacation for themselves (but mostly to see me). I hadn’t called home much lately since I was preoccupied with studying during finals week, and there’s no cell phone reception at sea, so it was nice to catch up with them. The next day, my friends and I explored the fort in San Juan and then went shopping in the area. We had three days in each port, two of which we had liberty, and one of which we gave tours on Eagle.

 

The first day in Aruba, I volunteered for a community service project repainting an elementary school. The hours I got that day count towards my community service requirement for this semester, and it was a fun opportunity to leave a mark on a foreign country. The second day of liberty, I spent with Eva’s parents at a resort. For dinner, Mr. Sandri caught a red snapper, and we went to a local restaurant called the Old Cunucu house where they prepared the fish as an appetizer for us. The food there was delicious.

 

In Mexico, my friends and I went snorkeling. The water in the Caribbean is so clear in some places that you can see the whole way to the bottom. Being a great vacation spot, Cozumel offered so much to do, but we were limited in our time there.

 

One really nice thing about being underway is that you don’t have to worry about money. There’s not much that you can buy when you’re at sea, so all the money you earn is saved for the port calls. This is definitely another benefit of going to a service academy. We not only get our education paid for, but we also get to travel to amazing ports and have some money to spend while there. I wouldn’t say it’s free because we work hard, but it is definitely more than worth it. I felt so privileged when in Aruba, I turned to my friend and said, “It’s okay that we didn’t snorkel today. We can just do it in Cozumel next week.” Just thinking about how much I got to do and see this summer makes me so excited to see what my future in the Coast Guard holds.

 

More about Sarah.

 

A Rewarding Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Pourmonir Photo So summer break is awesome. I love going to the beach and spending nights out on the town with my friends. You must be thinking that you can’t wait to go to college so that you can spend your summers just as I like to, but you must be wondering if that’s even possible. I mean going to the Coast Guard Academy means you don’t really have a summer break right? No. I thought so too, from everything I had heard, but it’s possible. This summer I was stationed at Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During your third class summer you either go to a small boat station, like I did, or a cutter. I got the chance to do both.

 

On the 11th of May I reported to the station. I reported late because I had a race for Men’s Varsity Crew. I was scared it would be hard to get to know everyone since I came the day after the other three cadets I was stationed with, but I was way off. Everyone was so friendly. I learned a ton. I helped to interdict 51 migrants in only four days. I spent a total of seven days on the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark, a fast response cutter out of Miami, Florida. In less than a week, I was allowed to stand duty as a lookout and watch the migrants. Seriously. I was responsible for the control and safety of 51 Cuban migrants. Everything from meals to bathrooms breaks I had to help control. At only 19 years old. I don’t know about you, but I considered that a huge responsibility that required a lot of trust in a person. I was humbled to be trusted with such an important task. I learned that while I did spend a ton of my summer on Fort Lauderdale’s beach and out in the city of Fort Lauderdale, it is a lot more rewarding to spend your summer learning how to serve your country and take part in some of the many missions the Coast Guard has. Interdicting migrants is one of money, but in just a few days I learned the difficulty and responsibility that every Coast Guard member accepts when they assume the duties as a member in a military service that focuses on helping others and protecting our coasts.

 

More about Keemiya.

 

Looking Back on the Summer So Far

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Okay, so I guess I should take a deep breath and remember all that I have done this summer. Although it seems to be a bit of a blur, I can say that it has been the busiest, most rewarding, and, yes, fun summer thus far. I started in the range, ending my first week with a sharpshooter ribbon for pistol shooting (who knew that the cheerleader could pick up a gun for the first time and shoot five points away from expert?!) Actually, to backtrack, my summer started officially at home for three weeks of leave, but it seems so distant and disconnected from my Connecticut summer that it’s easy to forget. I passed my ROTR test, Rules of the Road that is, after range (I tell my friends back home that it is like drivers ed but for boats). To pass the test, everyone needs a 90%, so the whole week is dedicated to taking practice tests and studying. Next came prep week, and as a waterfront cadre, I spent the week learning how to teach swabs how to sail and familiarizing myself with the sailboats and the small motor boats used by the cadre to corral the sailing swabbies. Now I am about to finish my week of T-boats, which is basic ship handling. We spent the week anchoring, docking, and practicing man overboard drills on unlucky life rings. Next week starts the end of my summer: coastal sail, where I will tour the coast of New England on a 44-foot sailboat with my fellow cadre.

 

It may seem that I left out the bit about Swab Summer (my memoir of a waterfront 1 cadre) but I have to admit that I missed a month of my summer training due to medical reasons and so my cadre experience and flight experience week were both casualties. The worst feeling was that my cadre section was doing things, training, having fun with each other at school. I guess one good thing about missing so much of my summer is that I realized how much I loved my school, my friends, and my adventures! It seemed to get real for me, missing out, how much I really wanted to be in the Coast Guard. And I think that when I had this revelation, many other of my classmates had opposite ones. Several of my classmates have left. It’s hard to see them leave but now is the time that we start tasting leadership, responsibility, and are expected to uphold the standards. Sorry that I have been a bit long-winded, but I just wanted to say that starting my third year here (as a 2/c), I am very excited to lead my peers and shipmates, to be on boats, and to make the world a better place through the Coast Guard even more so than I was the day I arrived on R-Day.

 

More about Lucy.

 

Expect the Unexpected

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Back in late April when 2017 was briefed by the Cadet Training Branch, we received handbooks on what we should expect for 3/c summer. There was the expected: conduct standards, some sign-offs, and a template on evaluation for the end of the summer. But this summer's turn of events has been unexpected. Following Eagle, my unit was switched last minute to another cutter close to home. Today I passed my Repair Party Electrician (RPE) board (oral examination). On Eagle, we learned Damage Control basics, that is, how to control fire, flooding, and general emergencies in a maritime environment. I was never exposed to firefighting or emergency response growing up, but learning the basics on Eagle piqued my interest. When I came aboard my summer unit after Eagle, I made it my goal to obtain the advanced qualification. After completing that qualification early, I flipped to the back of the book to see what was left: Repair Electrician. I knew nothing about electricity before I got on this boat, and admittedly I was a bit intimidated by something I knew nothing about. Luckily, my unit is preparing for Tailored Ship's Training and Availability (TSTA), which measures (on an annual basis) each unit's knowledge, efficiency, and strategy in responding to a wide variety of emergencies, from an engine room fire to a man overboard pickup. There's been a drill almost every day, and the cadets were given the opportunity to participate in each one. I started to learn more and more about setting up casualty power systems from the emergency diesel generator, how to electrically and mechanically isolate a space, and the principles behind power generation. I found myself studying something I never thought I would be interested in, and the Electrician's Mate Chief on board and other electrician's mates took the time out of their day to go over the qualification. I surprised myself and passed the board, and now I'm RPE-qualified. Who'd a thunk I would be interested in electricity?

 

This summer has exposed me to different parts of the Coast Guard, interacting with different people from different backgrounds, from Operation Specialists to Food Service Specialists. There are many different personalities, both good and bad. That was unexpected. Nearly everybody at the Academy behaves in a uniform manner, and strictly adheres to the honor concept. There are people in the fleet who do not do this, to my surprise, and even people who don't like cadets for no reason. The Coast Guard is like any other organization: there are really good people and there is the handful of not so good people. In their defense, we sometimes get in the way and there's times where we can't help out, but we mean well. Luckily, this is only a small fraction of people in the "real" Coast Guard. Most people are welcoming and curious, and receptive to having cadets aboard their unit, especially the command. The other 3/c cadets and I attended a wardroom outing with all of the officers in Charleston, and there was some great conversation. Charleston was one of my favorite port calls; another surprise. Having visited Aruba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Charleston had the most to do, some of the friendliest people, and the best weather. Admittedly, Aruba was a close runner-up. Another shocker, my girlfriend surprised me by showing up to the base I just pulled into! I am excited for leave in a few days, and I plan on going to Busch Gardens in Virginia, seeing old (and new) friends, reading, and working out. The biannual Physical Fitness Examination is coming up soon, so most cadets are ramping up their workouts to get their best score. But in a few more days and I would be home enjoying leave!

 

Finally home, I find myself bored. I saw all of my friends from high school, and while we laughed like old times, we all have different interests. For many of my friends, they are almost done or halfway through college. They are coming to terms with finding jobs in a year or so, and it seems like we have all grown up. Being home for me now is somewhat boring, I no longer get the same satisfaction from the stuff I did in high school. At 20, the boardwalk is familiar like the back of my hand, and there isn’t much else to do in South Jersey. Today I went up to Philadelphia to find something to do, and I will be leaving for Busch Gardens in a week. I am, however, looking forward to seeing the Statue of Liberty over leave, as it’s something I’ve never done before. I spent a night in Chase Hall after flying into Providence Airport, and it was strange being back. I felt a sense of ownership, and I guess that is natural when you are allowed to look around and not have to square around the hallways. Leave won’t last forever—I need to order books soon…

 

I’ve also finally sent in some pictures. Check them out! 

 

More about William.