As is often a common phrase now when I write my blogs, I had no intention for such a long delay between posts. If fall flew by, then winter was here and gone in a blink of the eye. As spring approaches the Academy, I wanted to take a moment and be reflective on the top five coolest things that the Coast Guard Academy has enabled me to do while I was a cadet. This place has given me so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences and that I wanted to take a quick moment to jot down just some of them.
5. Participate in an Inaugural Parade
The Coast Guard Academy sends a contingent every four years to march before the President in the Inaugural Parade. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be selected for this honor, and got to drill with my piece, in downtown Washington, D.C. in front of the Commander-in-Chief. How cool is that?
4. Drive a Mercedes in the Military Bowl Parade
Noticing a theme here? The Military Bowl, held in Annapolis, Maryland, solicited for representatives from West Point, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard living in the capitol area to participate in the Military Bowl festivities. This event, which took place on my 22nd birthday, allowed me the privilege to drive the Mayor of Annapolis in the parade, meet Miss. America, escort Medal of Honor winners on the football field during the coin toss, and watch the game from the stadium’s luxury box. Talk about a day to remember!
3. Attend the U.S. Naval Academy
This is not a typo – through the Service Academy Exchange Program, which allows members of the service academies to exchange for a semester during their junior year, I was able to attend USNA in the fall of 2014. Although I am proud to say I will graduate from the Coast Guard Academy and serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, my experience at Navy allowed me to interact with peers who are going on to serve in the Marine Corps and Navy. This exposure was invaluable to me, and gave me an overall greater appreciation of not only the other naval services, but also the Coast Guard, as I learned more of the positive impacts my service has had on others.
2. Visit Exotic Locations on Eagle
Through my cumulative nine weeks aboard the Coast Guard Academy’s training cutter, I had the opportunity to visit three foreign nations, and five ports-of-call in the United States that I had previously never been to. Although it is hard to pick a favorite, I must say that visiting Bermuda in 2013 has certainly created a desire for me to plan a return trip.
1. Get My Dream Job Upon Graduation
When I reported to the Coast Guard Academy in 2012, it was hard for me to gauge how realistic of a goal it was for me to want to be a Coast Guard pilot upon graduation. However, with hard work and perseverance, it really is true that anything is possible. I am happy to report that on August 1, I will report to Pensacola, Florida for Naval Flight Training, and God willing, earn my wings in no more than two years. Although this last experience is a little bit of a cop-out, for those reading this, just know that no matter how hard the Coast Guard Academy is, the end reward, a commission in America’s finest seagoing service, is certainly worth it.
I hope you enjoyed my blog; it certainly has been enjoyable for me to relive the cool experiences the past four years have given me. If you have any questions, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. Until next time, Fair Winds and Following Seas, and always Go Bears!
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