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A Summer in Review

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hello CGA blog readers! It’s that time of year again, when everyone returns from their awesome summer assignments with stories to share and classes to look forward to. I was pretty up to speed with my blogs about the 2/c summer experience up until I became a cadre and got pretty busy. So I won’t waste words talking about my first few summer activities: Range, Rules of the Road, T-boats, and aviation training. However, looking back on my summer, the highs and the lows, I have to backtrack to mid-May. In May, I went into the doctors’ office because my shoulder was all out of sorts. I had dislocated it during a rugby match in early May, and I knew it was time to get it checked out. After an MRI, I learned I had severely torn my labrum (shoulder) and chipped a bone in my shoulder as well. With Swab Summer weeks away, I decided to wait to have surgery until after summer training. I don’t write that because I want people to pity the situation, or for people to think that I’m tough. I write that because I chose to forgo surgery to train the Class of 2018, and that passion to train the incoming swabs was more important to me than surgery. I would dare so far as to say that many of my fellow cadre had the same sense of passion about it as I did. So, for all the parents and future cadets out there, please know that your cadre are passionate about training you, and they chose to do your cadre for a reason.

 

Anyway, fast forward a couple months from May, and Swab Summer was just around the corner. I was home for a week off but I couldn’t get Swab Summer off my mind. Instead of living it up for that week, I spent hours reading books on leadership and preparing physically to train the incoming swabs. Additionally, I set goals for myself as a cadre. I wanted to be fair and respectful foremost. However, I also wanted to be a teacher. As cadre 1, it is easy to slip into a role of being a strict disciplinarian, but I wanted to break from that. Additionally, I wanted to instill a sense of pride in the Coast Guard and to teach them about what we do, in the hopes that it would unite them as a team and motivate them to perform.

 

As cadre 1, my job was to break down the civilian identities of the swabs; basically train them on uniform standards and drill; introduce the core values; and basically indoctrinate them. That is a high set of expectations, and I was lucky enough to have an excellent section of cadre to work with. We meshed well with personalities and work well as a team. After about a week, we were rolling as a team, supporting each other, backing each other up, and balancing the work load/responsibilities. By the end of week two, we were exhausted. People don’t realize, but cadre work just as hard as the swabs if they are doing it right. In addition to leading from the front and doing all the physical work that the swabs do, we have to figure out how to train them most effectively, and we have to take care of their physical and mental needs (like clinic visits and chaplain/counselor visits). We would stay up long after the swabs went to sleep, for me often not going to sleep until after midnight. We would discuss the day, what went well or didn’t go well, medical appointments, and we would plan for the upcoming day. As the last week arrived, we were exhausted and spent, but we pushed on.

 

A Summer in Review (Continued) 

 

More about Hunter.

 

Aruba, Jamaica, Ooh I Wanna Take Ya’

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo After San Juan, Puerto Rico; we sailed to Aruba; then Cozumel, Mexico; and ended in Miami, Florida. (Jamaica wasn’t one of our port calls, but we were singing the Beach Boys’ song “Kokomo” all the way from Puerto Rico to Aruba.)

 

My parents met me in Puerto Rico. They flew down from Pennsylvania and spent a week there to see me and to take a vacation for themselves (but mostly to see me). I hadn’t called home much lately since I was preoccupied with studying during finals week, and there’s no cell phone reception at sea, so it was nice to catch up with them. The next day, my friends and I explored the fort in San Juan and then went shopping in the area. We had three days in each port, two of which we had liberty, and one of which we gave tours on Eagle.

 

The first day in Aruba, I volunteered for a community service project repainting an elementary school. The hours I got that day count towards my community service requirement for this semester, and it was a fun opportunity to leave a mark on a foreign country. The second day of liberty, I spent with Eva’s parents at a resort. For dinner, Mr. Sandri caught a red snapper, and we went to a local restaurant called the Old Cunucu house where they prepared the fish as an appetizer for us. The food there was delicious.

 

In Mexico, my friends and I went snorkeling. The water in the Caribbean is so clear in some places that you can see the whole way to the bottom. Being a great vacation spot, Cozumel offered so much to do, but we were limited in our time there.

 

One really nice thing about being underway is that you don’t have to worry about money. There’s not much that you can buy when you’re at sea, so all the money you earn is saved for the port calls. This is definitely another benefit of going to a service academy. We not only get our education paid for, but we also get to travel to amazing ports and have some money to spend while there. I wouldn’t say it’s free because we work hard, but it is definitely more than worth it. I felt so privileged when in Aruba, I turned to my friend and said, “It’s okay that we didn’t snorkel today. We can just do it in Cozumel next week.” Just thinking about how much I got to do and see this summer makes me so excited to see what my future in the Coast Guard holds.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Summer Before Graduation

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Subramanian Photo First class summer for cadets is the final one and very rewarding in the preparation to be become officers in the United States Coast Guard. I had the wonderful opportunity to be stationed on the USCGC Adelie, an 87’ patrol cutter out of Port Angeles, Washington.

 

The location was amazing. Port Angeles is home to five Coast Guard cutters, a small boat station, and an air station. The town has a large Coast Guard presence, as well as being close to other Coast Guard locations, including Seattle, Washington and Astoria, Oregon.

 

Port Angeles is the northern point of the amazing Olympic National Park, which is more than 900,000 acres large. The park is ecologically diverse, with the Pacific coastline, the meadows of wildflowers, the mountain vistas, and the rainforests. I soon learned that eleven weeks was not nearly enough time to fully comprehend the beauty of the park.

 

I had a great time conducting Coast Guard missions aboard the Adelie. The Adelie’s primary missions are conducting escorts of Navy vessels, search and rescue, and security boardings of small craft in the Puget Sound. I learned so much from the crew, and I worked hard to get qualified in different positions. For example, I qualified as an in-port Officer of the Day (OOD), the Watchstander for the cutter while in port. This position leaves the entire cutter in my responsibility after the workday after the rest of the crew departs for home. It’s amazing that someone like me, at the young age of 21, was given such a great responsibility.

 

I learned so much in eleven weeks, and I cannot wait to return to the “real” Coast Guard next year. It was very rewarding to do what I did this summer, and I cannot wait to be able to continue as a career.

 

More about Kevin.

 

Kicking Off Fall Semester

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo With CAP week over, fall semester is about to kick off. The fall semester, so I have experienced last semester, is a term where each cadet, whether returning from leave, completing Swab Summer, or pumped up from coordinating cadre summer, is still learning their new roles as a cadet. The 1/c are either in command positions on Regimental or Company Staff, or are acting as division officers in one of the eight companies. The second class are finding themselves as budding leaders, having completed the execution of the Swab Summer training program, and are either re-buying into the system or growing weary of it, longing for graduation. The new cadets, having completed Swab Summer, wait for classes to start in anxiety, yet are jubilant having completed quite possibly the hardest summer of their lives. As third class cadets, we are still underclassmen, yet not leaders, but not quite followers. We are labeled as “role modelers” or those underclassmen who have been around the block, and need to guide the fourth class cadets to success in their first year. Third class, so I’ve been told by the brass at our meetings, is typically “the missing class” or the class at the Academy that fades into the background. There is an excellent opportunity to do the bear minimum as a third class, but there is also an excellent opportunity to find what you really enjoy, and more importantly, what you do not enjoy. CAPT Pulver, the Commanding Officer on Eagle, encouraged our class to use this precious time to find out who we are as cadets, and to not squander it.

 

I am excited to start the school year, and my schedule is packed tightly. This is potentially my hardest semester at the Academy, with some very challenging courses. Fortunately, I have a few classes that I am looking forward to as I progress into my major. Admittedly, I am nervous for a few of them, but my attitude from Swab Summer remains constant: if thousands before me have done it, so I can too and do it well at that. I am enjoying the privileges of 3/c year, and as one of my mentors put it today after church, I am “entering the final third of my cadet career.” That is to say, that the Academy experience is divided into three parts: swab summer, fourth class year, and the rest. In truth, Swab Summer did feel as long as fourth class year, and the first week of 3/c year was like it never happened it was so fast. This year, I hope to explore my personal interests, while also achieving the same level of academic and military success. I also hope to get into better shape…

 

That is the beauty of the Academy, the reason I wake up and put on uncomfortable leather shoes every day: we are all here for the same reason, and we will help each other out until the day we commission. Some of us struggle physically, others academically, but everyone here has something to offer, and has their own way of helping someone else out.

 

More about William.

 

Kwajalein “Kwaziness”

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo After departing Hawaii, Sequoia departed to Kwajalein Atoll, which is in the Marshall Islands. This video highlights the buoy tending work the cutter did while we were there. Exploring the small island of Kwajalein was fascinating—what an interesting little place to explore! Not many people can say they’ve been there. I hope you enjoy the second chapter of the “Pacific Journey to Guam” vlog series!

*Special thanks to artist Har Megiddo for the use of his music in this video.

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More about Justin.