Skip Navigation Links

Cadet Blogs

Reflections on the Summer Past

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Anthony Turner

Let me set the scene for you. If I were to say that you and seven of your classmates were given a million dollar yacht for a week, you would think I was crazy. What if I told you that you were to sail the coast of New England and immerse yourselves in the local cultures of each port. The only catch is that you have to have fun.

On a more serious note, the Coastal Sail Training Program (CSTP) will most likely be the highlight of your 2/c summer. The program requires a lot of work, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Not only do you learn how to sail, but you also gain a lot of leadership experience. Often the hardest thing is peer leadership. The program is designed to be challenging in certain aspects, but your safety officer and friends aboard the yacht will be there to support you. The beauty of the program is that it doesn’t demand that you become an expert sailor or a world-renowned leader, only that you learn more about yourself.

On the flip side, there are plenty of good things that arise from the program. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know people in your class. The best way to get to know someone is to live on a 44 foot boat with them and see how they cook. Speaking of food, the cuisine up in Cape Cod and Newport, Rhode Island was outstanding. While in Hyannis, Massachusetts, all the coastal sail boats went to an all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbeque buffet and the food was AMAZING.

The ports that you are going to visit are Stonington, Connecticut; Newport and Block Island, Rhode Island; and Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Hyannis and Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts. The majority of the ports are in Massachusetts, but each one is vastly different from the next. There are plenty of museums to visit so you can learn about the history of each port, in addition to seeing the different kinds of architecture there.

When I said that you learn about yourself, this is an understatement. You not only see how you function in stressful situations, but also how you deal with people in that environment. For me, this revelation occurred when I was watch captain, which means that I oversaw the ship for the day. And the weather was awful: there were three to five foot waves; the wind was around 15 knots; and it was foggy, raining and cold. To top it off, we received a search and rescue case that day. Now let me ask you, how do you command seven of your peers in these conditions? During this, the safety officer is there, but simply sitting back to see your course of action. Situations like this really reveal the type of person you are as it did for me that day.

Altogether these experiences made the program. If I’m being honest, it was my favorite experience as a cadet. Nothing tops sailing New England in the summer, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

Until next time!

MORE ABOUT ANTHONY

Training Boats (aka T-Boats)

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

Another portion of summer training occurred on the Thames River. During this week, we immersed ourselves in the training on the simulator and then on the actual T-boats at the waterfront. During the first two days, we learned about how to be a conning officer (giving commands); how to steer a ship; and how to execute different maneuvers required for man overboards, mooring/unmooring, and anchoring. We applied skills learned from our professional maritime classes and used them directly during this training week.

Following the classroom days, we used our experience from the simulators and applied them directly to the T-Boats. It was rewarding to see that the skills we learned in the classroom were finally paying off in a real-world application. Each day, the boat had assigned cadets-in-charge (CICs) who arrived early to start the engine, generator, and navigation equipment. The CICs researched the weather before arriving and made decisions on how to best carry out the evolutions for the day. Each boat was also assigned a safety officer. They always made sure the crew knew what we were doing, but also allowed us to make mistakes so we could best learn. The last day of T-boats culminated in an exam that included multiple rotations of mooring and unmooring, man overboard recoveries, and an anchoring detail. Probably the best part of the week was getting to know my classmates. As an AIM cadre, I did not know some of my shipmates too well coming in. During this week, I not only worked in a team with some new faces, but also built lasting friendships outside of the training environment.

After the training day, I had the opportunity to go on liberty. During this time, I was able to attend weightlifting and CrossFit with a few of my closest friends, as well as some new ones. On the weekend, I discovered new restaurants with these new friends that I hadn’t known about before. Overall, T-boats had a lasting effect on my classmates and me.

MORE ABOUT DANTE

It Was the Summer of ‘18

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021, Eagle) Permanent link
Katherine Doty

This summer, I had the opportunity to experience many of the amazing things that the Coast Guard does on a daily basis. For the first five weeks of the summer training program I sailed on USCGC Eagle from New London, Connecticut to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Barbados; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and finally San Juan, Puerto Rico. Besides gaining valuable maritime knowledge by taking part in one of the most enriching traditions at the Coast Guard Academy, I was able to form genuine relationships with many of my classmates that I did not previously know. From late-night watch standing, to sail stations, to determining our latitude and longitude based on the relative position of the stars in the night sky, my classmates and I grew closer and began to truly form our identity as the Class of 2021!

The second part of my summer was spent at Station Port Canaveral in Florida. Another cadet and I were lucky enough to be assigned to Station Port Canaveral where we got to partake in the unique (and coolest, in my opinion) mission in the Coast Guard: rocket security. Along with search and rescue, law enforcement, and cruise ship and submarine escorts, we provided security for two SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches. We were able to tour the John F. Kennedy Space Center and interact with members of the Air Force and other commercial agencies, something that I had not previously been exposed to during my time at the Academy.

Summer 2018 was definitely a summer for the books. While it differs dramatically from what my counterparts at civilian colleges did during their summers, I don’t regret a single one of my experiences. This past summer energized me for an exciting year ahead, and I cannot wait to see what else 2018 has to offer!

MORE ABOUT KATHERINE

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

Swab Summer: Humility, Commitment and Teamwork

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Jasmine Rodriguez

Swab Summer is not meant to be easy, whether you consider the incoming civilian students powering through their transition into the military or the cadre forging their leadership skills. I remember my Swab Summer vividly. I had proud moments, and I had moments of disappointment and doubt. So, too, did every other member of my class, but we made it through together.

As a prior-enlisted member, I was met with Swab Summer’s unique challenges compared to basic training at Cape May. Though the core values are the same, the mission and model are different. Humility, commitment, and complete reliance on teamwork are, perhaps, the main lessons of Swab Summer ‒ for both leaders and followers.

As a scholar who attended Marion Military Institute, I appreciated every minute and mile of preparation with my classmates. Any spare moment not spent bettering myself or others, mentally, physically, and spiritually, was time wasted.

Finally, as a 2012 participant of the Academy Introduction Mission program otherwise known as AIM, I reflect again on commitment and teamwork. I still remember when my arms were failing during a static hold of our water bottles, and my peer squared to face me. She held her arms out beneath my own and held mine up, simultaneously teaching me new facets of humility, self-sacrifice, and mental strength. The friendships I built through all my trainings are strong, and they support me personally and privately. This is not a journey one can complete alone. Each training program – be it AIM, Cape May basic training, Coast Guard Academy Scholars, or Swab Summer – is a necessary challenge designed to prepare a balanced, confident Coast Guard team.

MORE ABOUT JASMINE

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

Summer in the Northwest

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Derek Silliman

So after a long wait for our summer assignments, my class finally got an email with a spreadsheet giving us the full list of where we are going for the summer. I am assigned to a cutter named Terrapin. I had no idea where the cutter was located so I looked it up and I found out it was in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is a small city just south of the Canada border. Terrapin is an 87-foot patrol boat docked at Station Bellingham with only one other patrol boat alongside it. It’s been awesome for me to see a part of the country I never saw before.

When I first flew into Seattle, I was immediately awestruck as the plane passed by the summit pyramid of Mount Rainier, and the reality hit me; I was not on the East Coast anymore. Following a recommendation from Anthony Bourdain, I sat down at Anthony’s Fish Bar at Seattle-Tacoma Airport as I waited for my final short flight to Bellingham. I had the best salmon fish tacos ever and enjoyed a beautiful view of the Cascade Mountains rising over the tarmac. I had two goals: the first was to learn about the duties and responsibilities of the crew on the patrol boat. The second was to immerse myself in the culture of the area, to eat the food, learn about the people, and get outside. Something I leaned watching Anthony Bourdain was that whether you travel to another part of the country, or the world, seek to live fully and immerse yourself wherever you are.

Bellingham is a great little city characterized by being a college town and home to a number of small breweries and a beautiful mountain lake. The way the hills just rise from the coastline here has allowed me to hike a number of small mountains with stunning views of Puget Sound, and there are a number of great coffee shops, one right on the water that I walked by along the trail that runs along Bellingham Bay.

I also took a few short trips to Seattle when my family came to visit. We toured the Museum of Pop Culture and a National Park Service Museum that offered a tour about the history of Seattle as the last point people would come to before sailing on to Alaska. West Seattle has a great beach with a view of the skyline downtown and a nice little ice cream parlor. To get away from the city, my dad and I toured the Boeing’s wide-body jet factory.

One really neat thing I did was take a trip into British Columbia. I spent a day in Vancouver, touring the Museum of Vancouver and the Maritime Museum, where I leaned about the history of the area, in dealing with immigrants and natives, and an expedition by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police through the Northwest Passage. The coolest thing in Vancouver was biking through Stanley Park, looking out onto the bay. Victoria had a beautiful set of buildings that looked like this little piece of Europe had been planted right on the West Coast. I toured the British Columbian Parliament and learned more about the history of the area through a visit to the Royal B.C. Museum. Beacon Hill Park offered a beautiful view of the Olympics, looking straight across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, back into Washington.

I have had the interesting privilege this summer of being the northernmost cadet in the lower 48 states, but it can be somewhat of a lonely existence where I have had to make my own fun. I did get two opportunities to catch up with classmates, first over dinner in Seattle, and later going hiking with classmates in the Olympics after meeting them in Port Angeles.

Being on the boat, we had an awesome patrol down in Oregon, where I saw the fullness of the pacific coastline and ran along the beaches to the outward point of Yaquina Head.

On the boat, I had a great time working with the deck department, but my big accomplishment for the summer was getting my in-port officer of the day qualification. It was something I learned a lot from, but never want to have to do that again because it took me three attempts to get that qualification. I got as much knowledge from the crew as I could and realized the importance of reviewing manuals and documents to verify the information I had was correct. I learned a lot from the captain as well; from his experience at his first unit, how he went about leading the crew, and his challenges to motivate them. It got me excited to get out into the fleet in a permanent capacity next year, but it reminded me that I cannot anticipate every challenge. We had a lot of conversations about various leadership principles and how to apply them as a young officer.

Overall, I almost feel as if I could call Bellingham home, maybe one day I will, or another city in the Northwest. A piece of me really does not want to depart Bellingham, but I know my few weeks of leave will give me some much needed time to relax before returning for the fall semester.

Derek. Silliman@uscga.edu.

MORE ABOUT DEREK