This summer marks the second summer that I have spent at the Academy training to become a better leader and cadet. It’s called Swab Summer. The first time around I was a swab, unsure of what I was to do and what was expected of me. However, this time my shipmates and I are the leaders. We know what to do and how tasks need to be handled. After all, character and leadership has been engrained in us for the past two years.
I have anticipated this summer ever since I was a swab, wondering what kind of leader I want to be. When I was a swab, I had cadre whom I wanted emulate when I was put in their position in a couple of years. They were stern when they needed to be, but they were always fair. Like them, I want to be a mentor. I want to share my knowledge and experience with my swabs. I respect all of them for taking the Oath to protect and defend our Constitution, just as my class, the Class of 2015, did on Reporting-In Day on June 27th, 2011. With that respect comes responsibility. I am responsible for holding them to a certain standard and making them into fully capable cadets. On the other hand, I had a handful of cadre when I was a swab who illustrated the traits I do not wish to possess as a leader. It is because of these cadre that I know what leader I do not want to be – something that is equally as valuable as understanding the leadership qualities I desire to have.
Many do not know that when the Class of 2017 graduates and earns their commissioning, they will go out in the fleet to relieve the Class of 2015 from their first officer billets. I want to ensure that I have prepared the swabs with the fundamentals during their summer so that they may transition well into Academy life, and in the distant future when they report to their first assignment.
As you can see I am taking the responsibilities given to me this summer very seriously. I have earned the privilege to wear these shoulder boards and to train the incoming freshmen. If I know my class, and I think I do very well, my shipmates and I will be giving the swabs our maximum effort at all times – something that we expect from them as well. They have earned the privilege to be a swab at the USCGA, which is a feat that should not be taken lightly. However, the challenges have just begun. This will be a difficult, but highly rewarding experience for them. My classmates and I are ready to welcome the Class of 2017 in a few short weeks.
One last point that I had failed to mention above is that my brother, Phillip, has been accepted into the Class of 2017 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy! I had the honor to present him with his appointment letter at his high school senior awards ceremony while I was home in Wisconsin on leave. I am so proud of him and the cadet he will become once he and his classmates endure the seven weeks of Swab Summer!
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