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On Becoming Cadre

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Stephen Nolan One of the things you never really think of when you’re a swab, most likely because there isn’t a whole lot of time to ponder the big questions of the universe while you’re percolating, rushing to and fro, and spewing indoc, is how much work goes into prepping Swab Summer. When a swab steps off that bus, he or she is bombarded with cadre yelling as though they’ve been doing it their whole lives, only to sprint up and down passageways that shine and scurry into rooms where the decks are polished and their items are stowed. Swabs go through uniform issue and drill practices, they sign papers and get haircuts, they are literally swamped, and to their eyes it may appear as though the Academy has always been in this state of perpetual anticipation for their arrival. Though swabs consciously know better, it seems to them as though the cadre have always been cadre, that their rooms have always been stowed, and their gear has always been awaiting their arrival: this is not the case.

The first discrepancy I would like to address is this: cadre are not born cadre. Despite how intimidating they may be, how professional they seem, and how inscrutable they appear, they are just as new to the job of being cadre as you are to the job of being a swab. In reality, it is but a mere two years that span the divide between being a swab and wearing the aiguillette of a cadre. That being said, although we are new to the game, it does not mean that we aren’t preparing for it. This week at the Academy is designated as “prep” week for all cadre who are in any way involved in the training of swabs. It’s a week filled with the cleaning of Chase Hall, the retrieval and stowage of standard issue gear, attending trainings, and practicing for the big event. This week is all about ironing out those little wrinkles that could, if left unattended, endanger the smooth mechanical flow of R-Day and the weeks following it. A lot of effort goes into transforming each and every second class into competent cadre, because although it’s unfortunate, the skill sets and talents of being a cadre are not immediately infused into every second class when they don white shields. Training and practicing hone those skills, so that by the time R-Day rolls around, it does seem as though we have always been cadre.

By the time the swabs cross though the Archways on the morning of their Reporting-In day, hundreds of man-hours have already been spent in an effort to allow the day to run smoothly. Dozens of different people across the Academy grounds have to prepare for their arrival. While the soon-to-be cadre are responsible for the overall cleanliness of Chase Hall, the bookstore and the uniform shop prepare for the influx of over 290 persons and the Officers and Chiefs who deal with the logistics work through how to best fit 1,200 extra people onto a base that should comfortably hold less than half that number. All in all, it’s an exhaustive process that many people are involved in planning… and that’s just for the first day.

R-Day is fast approaching and as the day draws nearer the frenzy of activity increases throughout the Academy grounds. The cadre are busy prepping, for despite us being new to the job, we want to exude the confidence and professionalism of the members of the class of 2011 who trained us. We want to be those people that the members of 2015 look up to. We are planning, we are preparing, and we are studying our roles and acting out scenarios: all so that we can be ready for them. We have been entrusted with an important job, for not only are we training the underclassmen to be members of the Corps of Cadets, we’re training the men and women who will serve with us in future years, for although two years at the Academy is a huge span, in the fleet that amount of time is negligible. We’re training a class who will forever be associated with us. When people look at 2013 fifty years down the road, they will be able to say it was their class who trained the class of 2015; and when that day comes, I intend to ensure that those words are said in awe, rather than disdain.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions!
Semper P.
2/c Nolan

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