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cadet blogs

Coast Guard Alaska

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Shih Photo ENS Shih here from Alaska! It’s gorgeous up here. Sometimes I kick myself for not putting those Alaska 110s higher on my billet list, because at this point of my life I could definitely live up here. JO life for me continues to just get more hectic and confusing, but some of it’s coming together…if that makes any sense. I am continuing to pursue my quals: Machinery Watchstander, Advanced Damage Control, Ship Rescue Swimmer…it’s pretty endless. The work is pretty endless too. Lots of collaterals (some which seem random), and assortments of tasks to do. I’m not going to lie, being a JO is not a whole lot of fun. It has its moments though, and a lot of it seems to be about attitude. I have my ups and downs every day, but my better days are when I stay focused and stay positive. A lot of this year reminds me of 4/c year…but a huge plus…we are making bank! I love my paycheck.


I am trying to think of the highlights from the past few months. RIMPAC 2012 was quite an experience. Naval war games with twenty some odd countries…pretty neat. After that, was exploring Alaska. Second time for me (went to Alaska my 1/c Summer), but like I said this is a pretty sweet place. Then the Commandant of the Coast Guard and Secretary Napolitano landed on our ship with some senators and our crew got to show off the ship to them. Now, we are off to the Arctic.


I’ll say this, I am not the biggest fan of being underway for five straight months. It could be a little shorter in my opinion, but there is upside. I am seeing and experiencing once in a life time opportunities, and after two years on the USCGC Bertholf I already know I am going to have a good number of sea stories. Who doesn’t like a good sea story?


Highlight of my Alaska trip so far has been able to see Kelly Francis! Her and my good friend Mike just recently got married (their wedding was amazing), and now they are stationed up in Alaska. Unfortunately Mike is underway and I missed him, but I saw the house and the brand new puppy, and I am sure the next time I am in the area everyone will be there!


On the Academy side of things…today is the first day of school at CGA. It’s a little weird that 2012 isn’t going back. Some of the 2011 Ensigns even said school should be starting today. I’m not sure how long it lasts yet, but CGA stays with you one way or another. Hope everyone’s first day went well, and I am sure as usual the school year will be an adventure.


That’s all for now, got to wake up soon and finish up fish school!


As always if you have any questions, please shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to answer! 


More about Chris.


May - August 2012

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Duplessis Photo Wow I had such an amazing summer! I left the Academy on May 5th and flew to Georgetown, South Carolina where I spent most of my time at the Coast Guard station there. It was a small station with four 25-foot small boats and one 41-foot utility boat. I had an awesome time working with everyone and being out on the water. I’ve always loved being on smaller boats so it was pretty exciting to ride around and learn about those specific vessels. The crew at the station was also amazing! They welcomed me and the other cadet right away and taught us probably more in those six weeks than I learned the entire school year. I also had the opportunity to go to Sector Charleston for a day and learn about what kind of jobs people do there.


After my month and a half in Georgetown, I boarded the Eagle in Baltimore. We spent around 23 days underway total and stopped in Boston, New London, and ended in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was lucky enough to spend time with my family in Boston and give them all a tour of the ship. Although living on Eagle could be difficult at times (I roomed with 17 other girls!), I’m glad I had that experience, and had a good time onboard overall. It was pretty cool to spend five weeks there as opposed to one week last year because you really got to know the ship, crew and a lot of my shipmates. I loved traveling under sail and learning how the ship functioned. I also had a really fun division who all made it easy to stand any watch whether it was at midnight or four in the morning.


After Eagle, I got to go home for three weeks of leave. I live on the coast in New Hampshire, so naturally I went to the beach as much as possible! I love spending time with my family so I packed in as much time as I could hang out with them and my friends. I ended up going whitewater rafting with my friend, shooting with my grandparents, and surfing and paddle boarding with my family. It was pretty tough coming back to school after such an awesome couple of months, but at least I’m going back as a 3/c!


More about Lindsay.


Yelling To Be Heard

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Anderson Photo For Coast Guard Academy incoming swabs, summer is filled with yelling. For cadre, it is too. Eagle Cadre, however, have a different take on the yelling involved with Swab Summer. For us, we yell to be heard. We yell so that commands are clear and understandable to those on all masts. We yell so that safety can be guaranteed. We yell as a part of learning to lead.


Over the course of the past three weeks, I have struggled alongside my classmates in learning how to follow the lead of our classmates, as well as lead our classmates, all while having a division of swabs under us. As we reflect on the time we were given, we came upon a multitude of successes, as well as some things to work on as we continue to sculpt our leadership styles through the next two years at the Academy.


We realized that when we were underclass, there was always a cadet above us telling us what needed to be done. When we donned those white shields, all of a sudden we became the taskers. We became the ones the swabs come to when they don’t know what to do. We became the ones responsible for knowing where they are, what they are doing, and ensuring their safety. We stepped into the shoes of leaders, and took off running.


At the end of the day when we consider our three weeks in this leadership laboratory, we did alright. We didn’t lose any swabs, or allow anyone to get injured, and every swab as they were leaving the boat said they had a positive first underway experience. We as a cadre team learned to work in a cohesive and effective manner, allowing for tasks to be completed nearly seamlessly, and in a competent manner. We even learned to take control in a variety of situations, and use the wealth of information and variety of perspectives to our advantage.


Showing up for our first phase, there was a general confidence amongst the cadre section in our ability to lead. We all had a fairly rigid set of boundaries set for how we wanted things to be with our swabs, planned to follow our anticipations, and we did. And it’s not that we were unsuccessful the first week, but we came to the realization that we weren’t the most efficient leaders we could be. Only then did we really begin the learning process; the process of learning about ourselves, our various leadership styles, and really how to lead others.


After our first phase, however, I think it’s safe to say we realized how much we still had to learn. As we entered the second week, we brainstormed the most efficient manners in which to convey information, while allowing safety and an enjoyable environment to persist. Through that week, we recognized our strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and made goals to work on for the next week.


Through our third week, we worked on smoothing out the bumps in the road we encountered, and generally enjoying our last week onboard. We ensured the swabs were doing everything they needed to, learning and having fun, and spent the week getting to know them especially well. The last week’s swabs had already completed sea trials, thus signaling the conclusion of their Swab Summer, therefore that were the week when we were most able to be ourselves around them.


After our final week, we looked around and took a moment to reflect. We realized how much more efficient we had become as leaders and classmates; how cohesive our team structure was in its functioning, and most of all—how we had all come together to trust each other and our abilities to deal with problems in the most proficient manner possible. When we look back on our cadre summer, I think it’s safe to say that most of us, when we remember yelling, will remember not yelling at swabs to instill discipline or information, but yelling simply to be heard.


More about Meredith.


A Couple of Eagle Sea Stories for Ya!

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Martin Photo One of my experiences was the first day our division got Helm and Lookout qualified and me and my friend Collard were standing at the Helm for the first time by ourselves. We saw the Captain come up to the bridge and then the XO and we knew something was about to happen. All of a sudden, XO grabs something from the bridge and throws it overboard and starts yelling “Man overboard, port side!” The wind is blowing with a slight sprinkle and we look to each other with the “Uh oh” face. The OOD yells, “Helmsman, full left rudder!” Mind you, the wheel to turn the rudder has no hydraulics. Full rudder is a command to take the rudder thirty degrees to the left which is usually a six man evolution and it was just the two of us… We arrived at twenty degrees barely hanging on for our dear lives, Collard was squatting up as hard as he could and I was draped over the wheel trying to budge it any further and it wouldn’t move a bit. Our arms started to spasm and just before we let the wheel a spinnin’, a big seamen jumped on the wheel as well as a couple others and saved our lives. We felt that in the morning, but we also rescued the man overboard in record time!


Later on during that time at sea, my division had Watch on Deck duty which is keeping the sails trimmed or setting or dousing sails to keep the ship going the correct speed without calling all hands on deck to fix the sails. At the moment, we were going 15 knots, just shy of Eagle’s max speed of 17 knots. We were having 40 knot gusts and were listing over at about 35 degrees. We were told we had to furlough the royal, which is the sail at the very top, about 150 feet above the water. I am quite afraid of heights and the conditions didn’t help the situation. I said I wouldn’t do it, there’s no way I could make it. My division was short staffed and they eventually needed me to go up in order to accomplish the task. I was not happy to say the least. On board, we are allowed to listen to music every once in a while and my division had been listening to B.o.B.’s “Don’t Let Me Fall” the past couple days while on watch so as I climbed 150 feet in the air all I could do was sing the lyrics, “What goes up, must come down, don’t let me fall.” Usually you climb on the outside so you don’t have to climb with your back to the ocean so that way if you slip or fall, you fall on the ropes and not in the ocean. Except this time, they told me I had to climb on the inside, so there I went, climbing up 150 feet at a 35 degree angle coming more and more afraid of heights as I clambered up. I made it to the top with a few slips and a couple slideshows of my life flash before my eyes, but I did it! I survived! I had never been so happy to touch those teak decks. It was an amazing feeling to know what I had just accomplished and the fears I conquered, but once is enough for me.


More about Matt.