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One More Time Around…

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link   All Posts
Mark Zanowicz Greetings all! I apologize that it’s been so long since my last entry, but in the past few months I’ve been busy with summer training, enjoying a few weeks of leave, and reintegrating myself back into the Academy lifestyle for my final year at USCGA. Now that we’re a couple weeks into the fall semester and things have settled down a bit, allow me to catch you up on some of the experiences I’ve had in the past few months.

My summer got off to a pretty slow start. I served here at the Academy as Echo Summer Executive Officer (XO) from the beginning of May until mid-June. While the title may sound flashy, it consisted mainly of making sure the barracks weren’t messy (or, if you prefer, “assessing the material condition of Chase Hall”), organizing transportation for the limited number of cadets still on base, and standing duty. I can’t say it was a very exciting experience. However, I did get the chance to work directly with my Company Officer and Chief on trainings and logistics matters, which is a professional experience many of my classmates did not have this summer. Having a car on base and a good amount of liberty was not bad, either.

After my reign as XO, I waved a hearty goodbye to New London in mid-June and traveled about as far away as possible within the continental U.S. For the next five weeks, I spent my time in Bellingham, Washington on the 87’ patrol boat USCG Sea Lion. Bellingham is a small town tucked in the very top corner of the West Coast, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border. Unlike the previous part of my summer, my time on the Sea Lion was much more eventful. I had the opportunity to go on several patrols, observe multiple boardings, participate in anchoring and mooring evolutions with the crew, learn about the mechanical systems aboard the cutter (including the hydraulics and fire main system), attend fisheries trainings, and even achieve a Crew Member of the Watch qualification. Everyone on board was very welcoming and helpful. Although the Sea Lion had an all-enlisted crew (often 87s will have a LTJG as CO), I still felt as though the experience was highly beneficial to my professional development as an officer. I spent a lot of time on the bridge, working the radar and updating logs, as well as practicing contact avoidance while learning from the qualified members of the crew. All in all, my only gripe about my time on the Sea Lion was that I didn’t get to stay there long enough.

I can’t say I was too upset to depart, however, because after I left the Sea Lion I had three weeks of leave to do whatever I wanted. During leave, I traveled to Honduras for a week on a volunteer trip with my friend and fellow cadet blogger 1/c George Glock, and then spent the rest of the time catching up with friends in Maryland and visiting my sister down in Florida.

The only bad part of leave, as usual, was coming back to the Academy afterward. However, now that I’ve been back several weeks I’ve realized it really does get better every year. Being a 1/c especially is very nice. In addition to having all the 2/c privileges (being able to wear civilian clothes on liberty and shorts every weekend), we also have Thursday night liberty and are allowed to keep cars on base. It’s also a little better knowing this is the last time I’ll be coming back here after the summer. Just one more time around, I keep telling myself. It’s only eight short months until I can finally leave here and see what the real Coast Guard is all about. And frankly, while things are good right now, I also feel like it can’t come soon enough.

More about Mark.