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My AIM Cadre Experience

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Dante Roberts

Left. Left. Left, right. Right on left. My heart raced as the cadence was called out down the steps of Dimick Auditorium. It was the first week of Academy Introduction Mission, otherwise known as AIM. Little did the AIMsters know that they would meet their cadre in this manner. The back doors of the auditorium opened and, one by one, AIM cadre began to filter down the aisles on both sides. Every head must have been on a swivel in the building. That was the first discrepancy: failure to keep eyes in the boat. All 49 cadre looked like a foreboding storm to those high school AIMsters. Our right hands snapped up as we swore our cadre oath for the first time. It all seemed so real now. About face! We marched out of the room and immediately back to Chase Hall. This is where the cadre experience began.

Whiskey 2 cadre looked out the window as Whiskey 1 and Whiskey 2 AIMsters arrived to meet the platoon commanders just outside the steps of Chase Hall. We took the classic cadre photo with our clipboards to display our motivational quotes. The radio on my hip was blaring with radio checks from medical and battalion staff. We were all pacing back and forth. How do we yell at these kids? How do we get them to listen? All these questions were going through our heads. Suddenly, Whiskey 2 platoon ran up the stairs to the wing area and it was almost like instinct kicked in. “Square!” “Square!” “Eyes in the boat!” “Stop looking around!” “Is this funny to you?!” “Center of the p-way!” “Hit the bulkhead!” Within a matter of seconds, we were cadre. And within a few moments, they had already complied with our orders. One by one, each cadre introduced themselves to the AIMsters and relayed relevant information for the week. “Eyes!” Snap! “Fix it! My name is 2/c Roberts, but you will refer to me as Mr. Roberts, sir! Is that understood, Whiskey 2?” “Yes, sir!” “For the remainder of the week, you will no longer refer to yourself with pronouns. Words like I, me, my, we, and our no longer exist. You are a team now, you are an AIMster!” It was almost like our Swab Summer instincts from two years ago were in full gear. The first order of business was to make the platoon stow their civilian clothes and change into the AIM uniform of the day. By the first hour, the AIMsters had changed into uniform, learned to greet and square, and begun to march.

Their real first test was dinner formation. Here they are expected to greet, know indoctrination, form up with the correct division, and keep their eyes in the boat. Formations can be the most stressful for the AIMsters because of these standards and expectations. At meals, the AIMsters were expected to square their food just like the swabs. As one of two division officers at the table, I used this time to foster personal development rather than ask for jokes or stories. I realized that the AIMsters appreciated that as they were not only able to ask Academy-specific questions, but also ones about civilian colleges and high school.

By the end of the week, each participant stated that they were grateful that they were able to learn about leadership and perseverance, as well as what they might want to do for the rest of their lives. This is when I realized what cadre summer was all about. As a 4/c and 3/c, cadets are expected to lead themselves. By 2/c and 1/c year, cadets transition to leading others. This transition into a 2/c cadre truly made me realize that I was influencing and inspiring others.

A crucial part to AIM outside of Chase Hall was the engineering competition. This year was a first for the engineering program. Previous years, such as when I attended AIM in 2015, AIMsters constructed a custom robotic boat that then carried out the different missions of the Coast Guard. This year, however, the AIMsters had to construct various projects that reflected the Academy majors and represented different missions. Thanks to this concept, I felt like I was able to truly promote my major – Marine Environmental Sciences, abbreviated as MES – and actually answer questions. One of the projects was a buoy that could generate electricity by running a magnet through a coil of wire. Each buoy could be tested in the tank in the Naval Architecture lab. Every group of AIMsters was successful in generating a current. It was rewarding for every cadre to answer questions applicable to their major. The next task was drone-related. As National Security cutters begin to utilize drone technology, it is important to understand the concepts that go into the acquisition. The AIMsters had to successfully fly drones through an obstacle course. By doing so, they unlocked “keys” which could be used to decipher a secret message. This exercise also tied in to the new Cyber Systems major. The last exercise was to build a directional antenna that would then be used to locate a transmitter. Every group was successful in locating the “fox” that cadre hid around campus. In summary, our AIMsters were able to get a taste of all the Academy majors and witness different Coast Guard missions.

Another exciting component to the AIM program was the opportunity to see actual assets in the Coast Guard, as well as discuss the training elements at the Academy. Participants were able to see the 44-foot Leadership yachts, go aboard the training boats, see the MES research vessel, and view ship bridge simulators in Yeaton Hall. They were also blessed with the opportunity to go aboard USCGC Albacore, an 87-foot patrol boat station at the Academy. The asset tours blew away all the AIMsters, especially those that needed to find some form of motivation from the program. The last week of AIM, they were able to see an MH-60 helicopter land on the lower field, as well as observe a search and rescue demonstration on the Thames River. Overall, AIM provided participants and cadre with the opportunity to see what there is to offer at the Academy and in the fleet.

If I could do cadre summer all over again, I would. It taught me more about myself, my classmates, and how to lead those I am responsible for. The skills I learned as a cadre are already directly correlating to 2/c year. I feel empowered to speak up in my division and have already begun to mentor the 3/c and 4/c. It is rewarding to see where I was as a 4/c and 3/c, and where I am now. As AIM cadre, I was able to lead and inspire students from around the country who have the potential to become future cadets and officers. Even if they choose not to attend a service academy, many of them stated that they learned personal life skills that they wanted to take back home. As AIM cadre, we not only inspire future cadets, but the future generation of the United States. All it takes is one AIMster from each region to spread the skills they learned once they get back home. That, at least, is the hope that we have as cadre. If past AIM participants are reading this, I hope that you have begun to influence people at school and in your community. Take the skills that you learned at THE United States Coast Guard Academy and use them in YOUR life.

MORE ABOUT DANTE

Eagle Cadre Reflection

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020, Eagle) Permanent link
Amy Chamberlin

Being a cadre on Eagle was an experience that I will remember for both the good and the challenging times. After I heard I would be Eagle cadre, I was worried that I would not have the same relationship that my classmates were gaining through being with the swabs for three weeks in Chase Hall. I quickly realized after getting back to school last week that I was wrong. I feel like the 4/c know the Eagle cadre just as well, if not more.

I thought the most challenging part of the summer was leading my peers. Our group of cadre was split up into a Cadet in Charge, Cadet Executive Officer, a Mast Captain assigned to each of the three masts, and finally division officers underneath the Mast Captains. Each division officer was in charge of 4 to 5 swabs, in addition to exchange cadets, JROTC, Sea Scouts, or Sea Cadets. Learning how to accept your shipmates’ ideas while still acting professional to your division was an important skill to have.

Since I did Summer Ocean Racing during my 3/c summer and did not spend 5 to 6 weeks aboard Eagle and I always knew that I wanted to have an opportunity to sail on America’s Tall Ship. One of the best parts of being an Eagle cadre was being able to get to know the crew. Going to school at the Academy and mostly interacting with officers, it was a different experience to be with a crew of almost all enlisted members. The crew was extremely proficient in their collaterals and specialties. Every cadre had a collateral, mine being the navigation brief into New London, Connecticut.

One of Eagle’s main missions is Public Affairs. The ship usually hosts a reception to different groups once pulling into a port. One of my favorite moments on Eagle was at the reception in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a beautiful night, and coincidently, it was the Coast Guard’s birthday ‒ August 4th! The sun was setting, and we had the large National Ensign flying. As we all heard the boatswain whistle sound off, we all came to attention ‒ cadets; crew; and junior, senior and flag officers. It was a moment of Coast Guard pride. We stood tall as the National Anthem played in the bankground.

If you have any questions about Eagle or Academy life, please email me at Amy.M.Chamberlin@uscga.edu.

MORE ABOUT AMY

Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP)

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Dante Roberts

For my second week of summer training, I had the opportunity and privilege to go to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina. It started as an early wake-up and drive to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. After a stop in Baltimore, we landed in Norfolk, Virginia and were greeted by 1/c cadets who were also assigned to that station. We drove an hour south into North Carolina and knew we had arrived when we saw retired aircraft at the entrance of the base. Upon check-in, it was cool to see that we were staying in the barracks on base and I had a roommate just like at the Academy. Our rooms had lofted beds (bed on top, desk underneath), a refrigerator, TV, and personal bathroom/shower. Among us in the wing area were junior enlisted personnel who were attending the Aviation Survival Technician (AST), Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT), and Avionics Electrical Technician (AET) training schools on base. The first night, we were issued a flight suit or the typical “green pajamas.” It was quite the experience to be wearing a flight suit, which is much like a pajama onesie.

Throughout the week, we had different opportunities while on base. Elizabeth City not only has an air station, but a small boat station, the “A” schools for AST, AMT, and AET, and the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC). On one of the days, we were able to attend a workout with the AST’s or commonly referred to as rescue swimmers. This was the most intense workout any of us had ever done. The 11 2/c’s and four 1/c’s were swimming multiple laps, doing relay races, carrying bricks above the waterline, retrieving bricks from the bottom of a 12-foot pool and climbing ropes that ascended to the ceiling. This experience humbled us and made us realize how much our enlisted personnel actually do. The next day, we met the commanding officer of the “A” schools and were given a tour of all the buildings. We were able to see enlisted personnel at different stages of learning their rate. Another day, we met an engineering officer in charge of the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC). The ALC is responsible for the maintenance and repair of all aircraft in the Coast Guard.

It was quite the experience to see helicopters and airplanes in different stages of development, especially the finished product in a test flight. During the course of the entire week, we all had opportunities to be aboard at least one flight, either on the MH-60 Jayhawk (helicopter) or C-130J Super Hercules (airplane). I was on board a 12-man C-130 flight (two officers, eight enlisted, and two cadets). For approximately four hours, I was in the air between Elizabeth City and Norfolk, Virginia. The pilot was a lieutenant and the co-pilot was a lieutenant junior grade. The LTJG needed additional flight hours taking off and landing, so the training flight took us to the airport in Norfolk to do so. Additionally, the training flight required simulated drops of packages onto beaches and over the water. As a reward for a job well done, the pilots left the back ramp of the aircraft open while in flight and the crew was able to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. A few hours later, I touched back down in Elizabeth City. CATP was an unforgettable part of my 2/c summer experience.

MORE ABOUT DANTE

On the Road to Success

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Dante Roberts

The cadet blog program is an excellent opportunity to provide past, current, and future cadets with a relevant viewpoint of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Cadets are represented from every state and from different countries, so it could benefit a future applicant to look into the life of somebody from their state.

In my case, I am one of the few people that represents Nevada; therefore, it might be advantageous for someone from this state or region of the country to see how I travel back home or how I became accustomed to being further away from home than others. After coming for the AIM program in July 2015, I followed cadet blogs whenever I could. I wanted to learn what it was like to be a cadet at such a prestigious academy. Not only did I come for AIM, but I came for the Genesis Invitational in November 2015 at which time I was offered my appointment in person by Admiral Rendon and Captain McKenna. At this event, the four of us that had received our appointments seemed to be an inspiration to those interested in applying. After this, I continued following blogs and was inspired by what cadets were doing in the fleet during the summer, in the classroom, and on the field. Now, I am one of those cadets that can influence the next generation of future officers.

I hope people can read my blog entries and become motivated and inspired to join the Long Blue Line on the road to success.

MORE ABOUT DANTE

High School AIM Experience

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
MegMarie Stanchi

Before I attended AIM, I had only visited the Coast Guard Academy in person once. Now, to some, that may be more than what they experienced, but my point is that the Academy was still such a foreign place to me. I think most people can agree that their first visit to the Academy was very confusing. You don’t know what to think or what to ask because it is all so different. Well, that is why I was nervous going in to AIM; I really wasn’t sure what I was walking in to. I had done my research on AIM and Swab Summer, so I knew what might happen, or what may be done, but I was really scared to see how I would respond to it all. Even though I knew it was only supposed to be a taste of Swab Summer, I wanted to see how I would react because that was going tell me if I could handle attending this school for four years.

So, I just did it. I powered through the week and took all that I could from it. AIM is a program that not everyone gets to attend before Swab Summer, so you must take it as an opportunity to learn and ask questions if you are selected. The AIM program might have changed a little bit, but for me, the first three to four days simulated Swab Summer, in a watered-down version. We saw a lot of the Academy, went to trainings, did some incentive training, cleaned our room, folded our clothes, recited indoc, and squared our meals. It wasn’t until the end that we got to talk to our cadre, and hear from them what being a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was like. When they talked to us, I soaked it all in. My favorite part about AIM was being able to hear what real cadets struggled with at the Academy, what they learned, what activities they were involved in, and really, how they “survived” the Academy. Hearing them speak made it seem less scary and foreign. I realized that these cadets were people from different backgrounds and different regions of the U.S., and they had made it through. They finished Swab Summer, they completed two academic years, and they stood up in front of me and talked about situations they had been in and how they got through them. As corny as it sounds, I realized they were just people. People transitioning in that weird stage from teenager to young adult.

After hearing what the academics at the Academy was like, after seeing a bit of what Swab Summer demanded, and listening to personal experiences from cadets, something was quite clear to me. I had to apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and give this place a try.

MORE ABOUT MEGMARIE

We've Got Your Back

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Darden Purrington

Dear Class of 2022,

We’ve got your back.

As Day One approaches, I’m sure many of you are nervous. So was I…so am I.

I know I speak for my class, the great Class of 2020, when I say we are ready.

We are imperfect and human. We will make mistakes, just like our Swabs. We are dedicated to, and proud of, this institution and the Coast Guard that stands behind it. We have trained and waited two long years for this. Cadre Summer, the epitome of cadet training. We are learning, just like 2022, how to be officers in the World’s Best Coast Guard ‒ we are simply two years further down the road.

If there is one thing I want you to understand it is that 2020 is full of people. That may seem silly to many of you now, but come mid-July, you’ll have long forgotten. Every cadre will seem like a god or demon or some mythical creature who subsists on energy drinks and sleepless nights. We won’t seem like people. Some of us may seem like we don’t care about you, or worse, don’t like you. What you won’t see are the conversations with our roommates after you’ve gone to sleep about how we can get you through just another month, or another week, or another day of training. Because you are our swabs.

My class will run you, and drill you, and quiz you until you think there’s nothing left to give ‒ but give more. We will push you; some of you will cry, wake up exhausted, sit bolt upright at the drop of a needle in the middle of the night, and some of you will want to quit ‒ don’t. You have more in you and you are better than that. Stick with it. Give more.

You are our swabs and if one day you wake up and can’t do it for yourself anymore, do it for us. Do it for your shipmates, because they need you more than they will admit, perhaps more than even they know.

You wouldn’t be coming here if you didn’t belong here. We believe in you, all you have to do is prove us right.

Class of 2022, we’ve got your back.

Semper Gumby

(Athletics, Choosing the Academy, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Taylor Rowles

As an applicant for Coast Guard Academy, I dissected, read, and reread the cadet blogs to gain insight into the lifestyle of a cadet. The past cadet bloggers truly made a difference in my interest in the Academy and helped me find my way to studying along the Thames. Now that I am a cadet, I would love to give back to those who are lost in the ongoing college decision process through blogging about my experiences thus far at the Academy.

Over the past year at the Academy I have learned to expect the unexpected because no one day is like the next. We are always adjusting to change much like an officer’s day-to-day lifestyle out in the fleet. Whether it is a pop-up uniform inspection or a drug boat causing us to diverge from coarse, I have learned that you must be “Semper Gumby” as a future officer in the Coast Guard. I would love the opportunity to voice our unique experience to those who one day wishes to serve next to us. As an avid participant in over ten clubs and women’s varsity track and field I will be able to give a wide range of information regarding what happens behind the gates of the USCGA.

MORE ABOUT TAYLOR

Find a Group

(Athletics, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Alexis Laskowski

Hey everyone! This year has started off quick. We are now getting to midterms…CRAZINESS. This school year has already been full of activities, school work, and sports. I just wanted to share how important finding a group that you connect with is. For me, that is the men’s rowing team.

When I came to the Academy, I didn’t know what sport I wanted to play. Previously, I played softball for about 10 years of my life, but I did not want to do that anymore. Over Swab Summer I got a concussion from paying intercompany softball, ironically. Going into the school year, my doctor did not want me to play any sports with balls. Luckily enough, the rowing team needed a coxswain and I needed a sport.

Now I have been on the team for a little over a year and I couldn’t be any happier. From planning races, to school work, all the way to just traveling together, I have had a blast with the guys! The team is like a new family to me. If I need anything, I can go to any one of the guys on the team, and they will be there. Last year, if I needed help with school work, anything militarily, or just life advice, there was someone on the team I could ask. Now, I am trying to do the same thing, helping the 4/c on the team. I am excited for what the rest of the season will be like, and my next three years on the team will be like.

One of my number one pieces of advice about coming to the Academy is to find a group of people you can relate to. Find people that you can go to and use their support.

MORE ABOUT ALEXIS