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Oh, the People You’ll Meet!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Stephen Nolan I imagine that if time seems to be slipping through my fingers right now, that for some of you reading this, time is literally falling through it in a never-ending deluge. I remember one year ago I felt as though I was stuck in fast-forward, my life rushing full ahead towards that day-of-Days, R-Day. For those of you who read that sentence, and thought of your own impending R-Day and felt your heart leap into your throat, know that you are not alone. Hundreds of your future shipmates have felt just the same thing. I want to take the time right now, to think back on people who have had an influence on me this past year; people that you can look forward to meeting in a few short months. Regarding the cadre: you will find out soon enough that there are two types of leaders in this world –good leaders and bad leaders. Swab Summer is about training the individual to be part of a unit, training you to be more like them, thus preparing you to assume your duties as a future officer in the United States Coast Guard. Unfortunately, the Cadre themselves are learning how to lead too, how to be officers in that same Coast Guard. It’s something to remember that these people have only a scant two years more than you under their belts, for some of you, they might even be younger than you are! They too are coming into their own, and learning the ropes, and as such, you will see both types of leaders. Learn from them. I speak from experience when I say that I had cadre who I looked up to, and I had those who I had little respect for. Regardless of which one happens to be yelling at you at that moment, learn from them. Find out which techniques they used that motivated you, and use them on your swabs when the time comes. Find out which techniques made you mentally roll your eyes and store that information away in the recesses of your mind. Remember all that when you’re yelling at some member of the class of 2016.

Chiefs: I would not have survived this past summer without my chief. I once had a conversation with Adiral. Allen, and he gave me one of those “kernels of wisdom” which you’ll pick up over the years: Chiefs are the secret to success as a young officer. Never feel afraid to go and talk to your chief, to go ask for advice, to vent, to run an idea by them. During the summer use your SOS (Swab only Sessions) to your advantage, let your chiefs know exactly what you think is going right and going wrong, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you see a change. After the summer, your chief is a person who you can talk to if you ever need help. They’re a wealth of advice, and they’re always good for a salty sea story.

Regarding your shipmates: you’re going to learn a lot from your shipmates, and you’re going to come to depend on them as well, and you’ll learn a lot from both types; the ones that are gone by the end of the summer, and those that are still there with you when you start the year. Almost inevitably some people will be gone by the end of the summer, whether the cause was ‘D.O.R.-ing’ (dropping on request), or from medical reasons. One of my good friends over the summer was a swab by the name of Helena Pound, she ended up being dis-enrolled for medical reasons, but while she was still here, injured nonetheless, the cadre used her as an example of what we should strive to be like. Despite the pain she was going through, she still managed to be, in the words of one of my cadre, a "stellar swab." People like that are motivating, and they lift up your spirits. You’re also going to really be dependent on your shipmates who stay with you through the summer. There is no such thing as flying under the radar, so go ahead and toss that idea right out the window. There is also no such thing as a perfect swab, you are each going to have your failures, and you’ll have to depend on the rest of the group to overcome your failures: it’s a humbling experience. As cheesy as it sounds, by the end of the summer, you’re going to become a family, and you’ll know each and every one of your shipmates better than some of your friends back home who you’ve known for years.

I’m getting ready to leave for the summer, so this will probably be one of the last times I get to give my advice to you before R-Day. Appreciate your remaining time as a civilian, but take my words to heart. Look forward to the friends you’ll make here, to the people you’ll meet, and the opportunities you’ll have. Recognize that some of you who report in won’t be there at the shoulder board ceremony in August. Come to grips with the fact that you won’t be able to survive the summer alone. If Swab Summer were an individual experience there would be very few people at the Academy right now. Well I’m signing off for now, and though I hope I’ll be able to get a few more posts in before you report in, I would like to wish you the best of luck right now. Here’s to your summer, may it be as positive an experience (overall) as mine was. I hope to see each of you as 4/c in August, and maybe even as my fourth class to those of you who will be in the Class of 2015...

Semper P.
4/c Stephen Nolan
Stephen.T.Nolan@uscga.edu

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