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cadet blogs

It Would All Be Worth It

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Racz Photo I will admit it is very strange being back. Now that I am 3/c (sophomore), I am not required to do any of the tasks that the newly appointed 4/c (freshmen) have. It’s almost as if all the stress that came with freshmen year has disappeared. The upper-class were right when they said it would all be worth it. I now look forward to spending this year getting to know my fellow classmates and having a little fun in the process.

 

This summer was long, but quite an experience. Following finals, I departed to Savannah, Georgia for the first five weeks of the summer. There, I met the CGC Valiant. Unfortunately, the Valiant was in dry dock, so I was unable to get much sea time (essentially dry dock means the cutter is getting repaired on land). Though I didn’t get the underway experience that everyone talks about, I did learn a lot about the less glamorous side of the Coast Guard. I spent the summer painting, sanding, and making general repairs to the cutter. It was hard work and the days were long, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of awesome enlisted members that I hope to work with one day once I’m an officer. The second half of my summer was spent on the Barque Eagle, America’s tall ship. For six weeks, my classmates and I sailed up along the East Coast to places like Sydney, Nova Scotia and St. Johns, Newfoundland. The port calls on Eagle were amazing and I made a lot of memories that I will never forget. On Eagle I also got to know my classmates better, some of which I am now great friends with. After my 11 weeks out in the fleet, I went home to Maryland for three weeks of much deserved leave. At home, I spent time with family and friends relaxing and non-Coast Guard related activities. The time home was incredible, but I was surprisingly ready to go back after the three weeks was up. I look forward to this upcoming year and I can’t wait to see what it has in store.

 

More about Benjamin.

 

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.