Hey, how are you?! I am emailing you from the bridge of the USCGC Thetis! I have been really busy out here with my classmate and best friend, Hanna! We have been underway for a little more than a week and I just wanted to check in with a little blog entry. We both just qualified Quarter Master of the Watch, so we can finally take part in the watch rotation.
So first things first: I can't believe that I am a first class cadet. It seems like such a short time since I signed up to blog in 2012, a fourth class, with bright and wide eyes, lost in the first year of my cadet career. I was excited and nervous and worried that I wouldn't make it to be cadre and forget about being a firstie! They were the cadets exuding confidence, ready to take on the fleet and the world. They could drive cars and go to Panera for dinner on almost any day of the week. It was like watching a dream, or a unicorn, some mythical creature that I wasn't sure was really real. But here I am, my shields are blue, and I find myself completely surrounded by the big blue, underway, firstie summer.
I think that even though we weren't underway for the first week, that was probably the most challenging and overwhelming. This is because first impressions, although they can be forgotten over time, are paramount to the initial reaction people have toward you, especially for cadets going into the fleet. I think that the Coast Guard as a whole, although excepting of cadets from the Academy for summer programs, is also very cautious when they arrive. As a cadet, you are handed the responsibility of building relationships with enlisted so that, over the summer, a mutual respect is forged that will build from seaman-cadet into more valuable ones, like chief-officer. If there is one thing that being on a 270' has taught me, it is that these boats are not that big and everyone on board has a purpose, one that is vital to the success of mission execution and safety. We need to build trust, prove ourselves worthy of that respect and also show that, as future officers, we respect the Coast Guard family and are familiar with the jobs of all on board the cutter.
When you report to a cutter, be it for your firstie summer or your first billet after graduation, you have to be humble, ready to learn, and appreciative of all that the crew does to welcome and teach you. I have learned so much just from listening and watching and standing watch with non-rates, all of whom work extremely hard and are expected to do so much for the unit.
As a cadet this summer, I see the enlisted side, and the officer side, and also the keel, the balancer, which is the chief's mess. The chiefs pulled me aside and taught me that all junior officers and even senior officers must depend on the experience and knowledge of the chiefs to help them run the cutter. The chiefs are a connection between the officers and the rest of the crew. And this chief's mess has been incredibly accepting of Hanna and me and they have already taught us so much but they are fair and also let us know when we have made a mistake.
I couldn't tell you if I was ready to put a 270' down on my wish list next year because I'm not sure that drug busting and migrant interdiction is for me but I am open to it. My goal for this summer is to learn, have fun, mature and start to edge into the next stage of my Coast Guard career. If time passes as fast as it has for the past three years, I am sure that next summer will be here in a blink!
I will try to update you some more and I hope everyone is having a great summer!
More about Lucy.