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cadet blogs

Three Parts of Third Class Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sandri Photo Third class summer at the Academy is divided into three main portions: sailing on the cutter Eagle, experiencing time in the fleet/attending summer school, and going on leave. I was assigned to spend the first five weeks of my summer aboard Eagle followed by six weeks at Station Golden Gate.

 

Eagle was certainly an experience. Our days were filled with double four-hour watches, damage control trainings, working on required tasks such as star shooting and drawing the ship’s firemain system, learning the system of lines so we could help work the ship more efficiently, and of course prepping for in-port duty and liberty. Captain Pulver, the CO, said he wanted to keep us busy, and he definitely succeeded! Here are a few things that made Eagle memorable:

  • My division. Aboard the ship, we attended trainings and stood watches with a group of other 3/c cadets, all under the watch of a 1/c cadet. Although a midnight watch in the engine room may not seem like fun, we made it enjoyable by having discussions and playing lots of games. I couldn’t have survived the five weeks without them!
  • Sometimes, the FS (food service specialist) on duty would make pumpkin cinnamon rolls for people who had the night watch. This always made my night!
  • Spotting wildlife. The Atlantic Ocean is teeming with flying fish, and we would occasionally spot whales or dolphins. It was so exciting to spot them while standing lookout, or waiting during sail stations.
  • The water was colored such a brilliant electric blue around the Caribbean, no wonder there’s a paint color called Caribbean Blue! Not to mention the clarity…you could see directly to the bottom when we pulled into port.
  • Climbing up the masts to pull in or let down sails. The view was incredible, and this was a really special job we got to do.
  • The port calls were amazing. We walked through a 500-year-old fort in San Juan, snorkeled in a natural pool in Aruba, and danced with street musicians in the lively streets of Cozumel.
  • I got to know my classmates better. There are some awesome people in my class who I hadn’t really talked to before, but when you’re together on a 295-foot pirate boat, you get to know each other pretty well.
  • Disconnecting. When you’re underway, there’s no cell service or WIFI access, so we found other ways to entertain ourselves. Sometimes it reminded me of grade school days, in a good way. Frequent time-occupiers included the alphabet game, Never Have I Ever, and writing letters.

 

When we pulled into Miami, we went our separate ways. Three other cadets and I flew to Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California. It was the busiest unit in the Coast Guard last year and is nestled next to its namesake bridge. These are just a few things from my time in the fleet:

  • The enlisted crew at the station was the best that I could ask for. They were able to more than competently get the job done while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere around the grounds. This was especially important because of the high-stress nature of cases around the San Francisco Bay area, and it was neat to see how the crew members manage themselves with little officer interaction. They were extremely knowledgeable and helpful as we worked on qualifying as communications watchstander and boat crew member for the 47-foot motor lifeboat.
  • I definitely got spoiled by Sausalito’s moderate climate and breathtaking views. There was time allotted for exercise almost every day, and I mostly used it to go on runs downtown. Sausalito is a small, artsy city across from San Francisco, and it was beautiful to run through.
  • SAR cases. We got to experience the life-saving service at the heart of the Coast Guard. No matter what time of day, when the alarm went off there was always a crew racing to the docks to save someone. On the days we were on the first responder boat, we would join the crew on cases. By the end of the summer, I had gotten to pick up kite surfers in distress, tow boats, recover bridge jumpers, break in comms watch for a suspected drug interdiction, and so much more.
  • The station dog, Sierra, was always there to take on walks and play with. The crew was allowed to bring in their own dogs too, and once we took three of them on a four-mile walk downtown.
  • Weekends were ours to use as we wanted. I spent time visiting family and friends in the area, hiked Muir Woods, toured San Francisco and spent one weekend working on qualifications.
  • Scary movie night! Somehow I agreed to watch The Conjuring for Scary Movie Monday at the station…never again.

 

3/c summer was definitely the best Academy summer yet. It feels like we packed so much training into the 11 weeks, which were followed by three weeks of leave. After this culminating end to 4/c year, I’m excited to see what the new year has in store!

 

More about Eva.

 

Halloween at the CGA

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Halloween at the Coast Guard Academy is unlike anything you would experience in normal civilian life. To start, instead of getting to decorate houses with scary decorations, we decorate our small rooms with as many decorations as we can fit and put buckets of candy outside our rooms. Some people go all in, and even walking into their room can be a challenge. Then there are people like me who don’t decorate at all.

 

On a company level, there are actually some fun activities to do. On the Wednesday before Halloween, my company had a party. We set up a few tables and played a “cider pong” tournament, which drew a lot of attention. Also, we decorated the dayroom with tons of scary spider webs and Halloween decorations. As we decorated, people enjoyed a massive bucket of candy, pop corn, warm apple cider, and caramel apples. The party was pretty fun, and it was a much welcomed break from the monotony of the week.

 

On the Thursday before Halloween, the corps had a chance to participate in the festivities together. At 1830, we had our annual Halloween dinner. The entire corps got dressed up in their costumes and headed down to the wardroom for a festive dinner and the infamous costume competition. This year, the costumes were awesome. Some costumes were really scary, and others were ridiculously funny. Personally, I dressed up as Brad Pitt from World War Z. Why? Well, my rugby teammates decided that we were all going to dress up as different Brad Pitts from the movies he has appeared in. We had over 30 of our guys dress up as different Brad Pitts, and we all sat together at the dinner. The meal was pretty good, but the most fun part was the costume competition. There were several categories for the competition: most creative, scariest, most nautical, and best group. The winner of each category is whoever receives the loudest support, which is a sight to see in itself. The rugby team went up for best group costume, and we each introduced ourselves as “Brad Pitt from___”. Surprisingly, we were very well received, and we won the group contest. That was awesome.

 

After the meal, hundreds of cadets headed up the “hill” for treats and prizes. The “hill” is where ADM Stosz, the Commandant of Cadets, Assistant Superintendent, Master Chief, and Command Chaplain all live. Each house was giving out handfuls of candy, and the Commandant of Cadets was handing out prizes including: long weekends, late racks, and other rewards. I ended up getting a free pass for me and three friends to go to Monday night football, which is typically reserved for seniors only.

 

After visiting the hill, I went back to the barracks to walk around seeing everyone’s costumes and to check out the parties going on. Overall, I had a lot of fun. Halloween at CGA is very different from what I would normally do at home, but I really enjoy it. The weeks here are long, and celebrations like Halloween and Thanksgiving are great stress relievers. Plus, it’s fun to dress up with all my friends and go have fun for a night, instead of studying or doing work.

 

If you have any questions about any of my blogs, please feel free to email me anytime at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu. I look forward to hearing from you. Take care!

 

More about Hunter.

 

Can I Go To Flight School, Now?

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo Wow – it’s already October and I haven’t wrote a blog since the summer. This is unusual, and I’m totally sorry. This semester is flying by in a whirlwind, but I guess that’s a good thing! This semester I am the 2/c in the Parents Weekend Division, which means a lot of preparation, organizing, and work. I’m also busy at work with the Aviation Club and, now, the dance team which I just joined this year. So far, fall of 2/c year is great and I’m lovin’ it.

 

Reflecting on this past summer, which was by far the best one yet at the Academy, my favorite experience was the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP). I spent a week at Air Station Mobile in Mobile, Alabama to get a good taste of what aviation is like. I always knew before going that flying was something I wanted to do; however, after this week I was 100% assured of this. I left Mobile with the greatest sense of fulfillment. I felt like I really found my “purpose” in life. I love the aviation community, the missions of the various aircraft, and, most importantly, I love the sheer act of flying.

 

I had the opportunity to actually fly a 65 (a type of helicopter) which was THE coolest thing I’ve ever done. I still feel slightly embarrassed recalling the pilot who laughed at me saying I looked like a little kid on Christmas when I took the controls. However, I am proud of that. It just goes to show that I’ve truly found my little piece of happiness in the Coast Guard. I loved my experience so much that I plan on requesting assignment to an air station my 1/c summer. And, of course, I am going to apply to flight school. Hopefully I will be honored with that opportunity come billet night.

 

But billet night is a long way away. As for now, I’m focusing on getting good grades, setting a good example for now my 3/c and 4/c, and staying positive about life in general. I guess it goes without saying that I’m pretty happy with where I’m at and I’m excited for what the rest of 2/c year has to bring.

 

Please email me with any questions you may have about anything. I love helping out prospective kaydets! :)

 

More about Allie.

 

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.