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(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Julie Kane Second-class summer was undoubtedly one of the best summers of my life thus far. I sailed the mighty vessel Shearwater (one of the 44 foot Luders) on her last cruise with five friends; got hoisted into a MH-60T helicopter with a rescue swimmer at Air Station Elizabeth City; learned ship-handling skills on one of the Academy’s T-boats (tug boats) and successfully avoided smashing 92 tons of boat into Eagle pier; and was a swab summer cadre to the Class of 2015 (one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life). I also passed ROTR (Rules of the Road), but that was slightly less adrenaline-inducing. I wish that I had time to write about all of the incredible experiences that my class had over the summer, but unfortunately the school year is now in full swing and I’m figuratively swamped in essays, problem sets, lab reports, and repeat miles, so I’ll have to limit it to a few stories.

The second week after my leave, ten other cadets and I drove down to North Carolina to spend a week at Air Station Elizabeth City. There, we had the opportunity to get duck-hoisted, which makes my little brother extremely jealous. After passing a simple swim test in the same pool where they filmed scenes from “The Guardian” (yeah, we were in the same pool as Ashton Kutcher), one of the AST3s taught us how to clear a mask and snorkel underwater. We also got to practice climbing into the basket and rescue strop while the AST3 used the mechanical winch to hoist us. The next day, some Coast Guard Auxiliary members took us out onto the water for our duck-hoist. One at a time, we jumped into the water and swam over to the edge of the rotor wash stirred up by the Jayhawk above. Then the rescue swimmer towed us through the spray and chop until we were directly below the helicopter. Even on a perfectly calm, sunny day, in the rotor wash I could barely hear the rescue swimmer as he shouted instructions and spray pelted our faces. I can only imagine what it must be like in cold water, at night, in a storm. Once we were under the helicopter they dropped the strop down, the rescue swimmer clipped in and got me situated, and they hoisted us right up. At the door of the cabin, the flight mech shouted, “Have a sucker!” and popped a Tootsie pop right into my mouth! (My week was a lucky group – the week before they ran out of lollipops so they were popping pieces of their boxed lunches into cadets’ mouths. One person I know got a hard-boiled egg). Then they let us back down and I swam over to the boat.

While at the air station, we got to ride along on some of the flights. One of my classmates and I got to fly with the crew of an MH-60T to a search and rescue exposition. We left in the morning and flew for about an hour. We had the door of the cabin open, and I got to sit right at the edge, looking out over the land and water over 600 feet below us. At the exposition there were Coast Guard members from a small boat station nearby, local police and fire, a Marine helicopter, FEMA workers, and other representatives from organizations that do search and rescue. My favorite part of the entire day was talking to the MH-60T crew. They were absolutely awesome. They taught the other cadet and me a ton about the helicopter and how its systems work and told us stories about some of the incredible rescues they’ve been part of. They are extraordinarily skilled at what they do and they clearly love it. I’m really proud to be in the same service as people like them.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Julia.T.Kane@uscga.edu.

More about Julie.