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cadet blogs

Summer and Now

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link   All Posts
 Jessica Nelson Wow - This is way overdue, but hello again! Last time I wrote, I was still a 4/c and the class of 2015 was still a group of high school graduates. Since then, I have had a crazy, exciting and yet difficult summer of trainings; the class of 2015 reported in and completed Swab Summer; and we have both gone through the first five weeks of the school year.

To quickly, or not so quickly, recap the summer, I was on a 418 foot National Security Cutter, the USCGC Waesche, for five weeks. On board, I was assigned to the Deck Watch side and did everything from small boat inspections and handling to scrubbing rust off the side of the ship. I got to stand man overboard watch during a fueling at sea, break in helm and lookout, drive the ship during a weapons drill, and ultimately stand my first qualified watch as helm and lookout. Probably the most important aspect of this part of the summer was what it taught me about leadership. Not that I have my leadership philosophy completely figured out, but as a junior member of the crew, I got to observe the different leadership styles, both good and bad. Overall, I had a great time on the Waesche working with the junior enlisted and experiencing first hand the bond you can form with your crew.

After the Waesche, which was out of California, I flew to London, England to pick up the USCGC Eagle. We were supposed to get underway right away, but the gyrocompass broke so we wound up having ten days in London. It was so awesome! Sightseeing anyone? When we finally did get underway, we headed north and after one week underway, we moored up in Reykjavik, Iceland and spent three days there, giving tours and of course more sightseeing! After the stop in Iceland came the toughest part of the summer. We spent two weeks underway in some rough and freezing conditions, and being someone who gets sea sick, it was an interesting experience for me :).

Despite the craziness of it all, the coolest experiences of Eagle for me happened during this time. I loved climbing into the rigging and scurrying up the masts to handle the sails, so I volunteered to go up whenever they needed help. Well, one day we hit a small storm that was rocking the ship both side-to-side and front to back. It was like being on a roller coaster; minus the safety of knowing it was going to end in two minutes. Anyway, they needed people to climb up and pull in the sails, so I volunteered to go up. I can’t really explain how awesome it was, because it is something you just have to experience yourself. But, there was a combination of fear and shear elation; it felt like I was flying being up on this little cable, a hundred feet over the North Atlantic, going up and down with the waves. On top of the excitement, there was real pressure to focus and get the job done, as the safety of the crew and the wellbeing of the ship rested in getting the sails tied down. We finished the job, and life went on as normal aboard the ship, but that experience was definitely a highlight of my time on Eagle.

After two weeks, we pulled into Halifax, Nova Scotia and, by that time, I think everyone was ready to get home for a few weeks of leave. We still managed to have some fun in Halifax, got back aboard the ship, sailed for a week to Boston and debarked for leave. After six weeks in the freezing North Atlantic, it was pretty shocking when I got off of the plane in Hawaii, but it was so nice to be home!

Now it has been about five weeks into the school year, and it is crazy how much life changes from when you’re a 4/c to being a 3/c. Not only am I now allowed to look around and be a relatively normal person, I have more responsibilities, like taking care of a 4/c and making sure they are squared away academically and militarily. Not to borrow too much from Spiderman, but it is true that with the new rank has come way more responsibility both militarily and academically. I switched majors last semester to Civil Engineering, and while I love the classes, they are definitely harder than anything I have done before! But as always, I am so grateful to be at the Academy where everyone is willing to help you out. Good luck to all of those sending in their early admission applications for the Academy, and for those juniors interested in applying, I would definitely suggest trying for AIM, but that is a whole other topic of which I could write forever :). Feel free to send me questions, and I will try my best to respond!

More about Jessica.