Thesis: Eagle was an incredible experience that let me have fun with my friends while at the same time gaining professional development.
I hope everyone has been having a fantastic summer, especially for those of you who will soon be reporting to the Academy as swabs and members of the Class of 2017. (Now that’s weird to think about). My quick tips for success for all of the future swabs:
- Bring liquid soap.
- Wear a t-shirt, shorts, running shoes, and just bring a backpack when you report in.
- Try not to stick out; just fly under the radar and work hard in everything you do.
While the Class of 2017 has been nervously waiting for R-Day for the past few weeks, and the Class of 2015 has been preparing for said day, 22 of my classmates and I have continued training the Class of 2016 aboard Coast Guard Barque Eagle.
There were several reasons I put in for Eagle for half of my first class summer, but continuing that relationship with 2016 was chief among them. Last summer I was a waterfront cadre and taught them how to sail dinghys as well as basic military indoctrination. I wanted to see their continued development and transition into 3/c cadets as well as assist them throughout their Blue Water Experience that the Barque offers Coast Guard Academy cadets. Of course, I also put in because I wanted to see incredible foreign ports with several of my classmates and friends. We set sail from New London for Saint Martin, our first port of call; a voyage done completely under sail and celestial navigation. The GPS and electronic navigation equipment “broke” so we had to figure out our position by the sun and the stars using a marine sextant.
In between the two destinations, my classmates and I were promoted from second class cadets to first class cadets, white shields to blue shields, and we then promoted our fourth class cadets to third class, green shields to red shields. It felt great to welcome our swabs into the fold of being an upper class cadet and give them the privilege of using our first names (swabs and fourth class cadets are required to use Sir/Ma’am and Mr./Miss when addressing upper class).
After relaxing on the beach and visiting both the Dutch and French sides of Saint Martin, we headed for our second Caribbean destination: Aruba. Even though all of us firsties were exhausted from the junior officer (JO) experience, the fun we had in Saint Martin and working together as a team helped us complete all of the tasks required of us and keep up a positive attitude.
From the beginning, each of us was given a division third class cadets, a collateral duty, several other projects, and required to qualify either as a Quartermaster of the Watch (QMOW), or an Oiler depending on if we are interested in becoming Deck Watch Officers (DWO) or Engineering Officers in Training (EOIT). Even though my career goal is to be an aviator, I decided to try QMOW out because it involved working with the sails and observing the wind and weather, important skills that apply to aviation.
As for my division, I had five third class cadets, including Samantha Corcoran. Part of the first class cadet role as a division officer included standing every watch with my division, from Bridge to Engineering to Combat to Watch on Deck, which meant that I got to know all of my division mates very well while I helped them succeed in their qualifications. I wouldn’t trade the division officer experience for anything because I made five really great friends; friends that made up a team I could rely on both during and after watch.
My collateral duty was incredible as well, because I was the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) and worked with the Public Affairs Petty Officer assigned to Eagle for the cadet deployment. As the PAO I would help take pictures and write captions for the Eagle Facebook Page, as well as writing press releases and setting up interviews for each port we pulled into.
The collateral duty improved both my writing skills, as well as teaching me how to work as a team with enlisted personnel, a vital skill for both DWO’s and aviators. Another valuable experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.
After Aruba, we sailed to Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, and then headed to our final destination: St. Petersburg, Florida. I conned (drove) Eagle into St. Petersburg and then stepped off the barque a few hours later to get underway the next day on my next unit: Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, a 270 home-ported out of Key West.
I matured over the five weeks that I was on Eagle; gaining an appreciation for the JO experience while at the same time enhancing my leadership skills and forming bonds with my division and classmates. Whether I’m fortunate enough to get flight school straight out of the Academy or have to wait a couple of years while I serve on a cutter, I feel way more prepared to become an officer than I did when I left the Academy as a second class cadet.
More about Jordan.