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cadet blogs

Memories Made, Lessons Learned

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Brooklyn Andreasen April 9, 2009

Imagine a tiny overheated room filled with one stern-faced “almost-officer”, two eager young adults, and one anxious tutor almost as teeth clatteringly nervous as you are. Yes, you are there and you are too terrified to breathe wrong for fear of being thrown out of the room and failing your ‘4/c Indoctrination Board’. Okay so what we at the Academy refer to as “boards” isn’t quite that intense but it is a test considered similar to an official qualification board, but instead of a qualification to handle equipment or to stand a particular duty it is to ensure that we are ready and qualified to become 3/c. Boards consume the entire corps of cadets. We all work together with the shared goal of teaching the 4/c as much as possible about 49 pages of quality Coast Guard knowledge.

This test, consisting of ten questions administered by those curious upperclassmen mentioned at the beginning of this entry, give the questions and handle the scoring. The uneasy 3/c asserts that they have seen to the training of the 4/c and escort us in. The USCGA is the only service academy that has a comprehensive test of this sort. It is a culmination of all of the information we have learned throughout the year as well as all of the indoc we memorized over swab summer. As a 4/c, I was initially a little frustrated with the extra work this test created in addition to the academic load. However, after completing this test and watching the entire forth class successfully finish their boards and earn Wardroom carry-on (didn’t I mention that? No more playing with our food because we can’t look at where we’re stabbing our fork!). The feeling of accomplishment is well worth the effort. I say this even after I failed to pass my first boards test. The 4/c were offered four tries to correctly answer 8 questions out of 10. We did this after the third opportunity. We are now one step closer to attaining the position of mighty 3/c.

Our next obstacle to overcome is what is known as the ‘Bitter End’ and has been titled “The Guardian Challenge”. Our company guideons have created six events for the 4/c to work together to complete. They have adapted the challenges from our Guardian Ethos as established by Admiral Allen. The goal of completing this task is full carry-on for the 4/c! This is only possibly one of the biggest privileges the 4/c have to earn of the year. As we earn these privileges the upperclassmen may also begin to earn theirs as well. Our Regimental Staff has said that the mood of the corps rests on the performance of the 4/c and this is simply another example. Stand by for more details on the Guardian Challenge.

April 23, 2009

CARRY ON! Those two words firmly asserted by Captain Fitzgerald our Commandant of Cadets last Friday brought glistening tears of bliss to every single 4/c standing on the Academy’s parade field. They made miracles a reality, for us the sun shone brighter, the wind whispered more gently, and the grass grew greener. What exactly does carry on mean for roughly 260 4/c cadets at the Coast Guard Academy? It means we can look around, talk to each other, listen to music out loud; watch movies, NOT square, and so many other activities nearly forgotten.

We earned carry on two and a half weeks before the last day of classes through our participation and completion of the newly created ‘Guardian Challenge.’ As I said in my last blog, we would go through six challenges spread across the week with the goal of carry on. This was an effort achieved in conjunction with and through the support of our guideons, Regimental Staff as well as our Command Staff. With 4/c carry on came what is called “gangway” for the firsties. This is their privilege and allows them the freedom of an officer in the Coast Guard. The 2/c also earned their extended liberty hours on Sundays. This may seem trivial to any other college student, but for cadets here at the Academy it represents one of the many milestones all cadets will go through as a class and as a corps. Yes, this is a privilege for the 4/c but I think it is also meant to build teamwork and encourage mutual cooperation among shipmates. All of this means we are one step closer to becoming 3/c and successfully completing our first year at USCGA. The memories we share are special and the lessons we learn are invaluable.

I will be going with a few other 4/c and upperclassmen to the Coast Guard Cutter Healy stationed out of Seattle. We’ll spend six weeks learning what our enlisted service members do every day. And if we’re lucky, we might even get sprayed in the face with Mace! (This is a qualification you can keep for the duration of your career in the Coast Guard) Together we overcame swab summer and 4/c year, together we will get through the next three years and a career in the Coast Guard.

Brooklyn.A.Andreasen@uscga.edu

More about Brooklyn.