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Week 9: What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up?

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo When people asked me this question when I was younger, I never would have imagined that I’d be transiting across the Pacific Ocean, inspecting buoy chains and shackles, or exploring small tropical islands and atolls. Whoa! And I’m fortunate to know what I’ll be doing for the first five years after graduating from college…or at least, I know that I’ll be part of the Coast Guard. I can’t say that I have a definite answer to the “what do you wanna do…” question beyond that.

 

The training objective for this summer is to provide us with an opportunity to serve in the role of a junior officer at a Coast Guard unit, in my case, aboard a cutter. I feel that this summer has done a fairly decent job of doing that. As my past blogs from this summer have shown, I’ve been busy working on many different project and qualifications at one time. Thankfully, since the cutter and crew returned to home port last weekend, this past week has been our stand-down period, meaning that most days are off, which provided me a chance to explore Guam a little more (how about those evening farmers markets and Japanese supermarkets!) While I still want to get out and do some hiking (“boonie stomping,” as it’s called here), this week has been great for catching up on some much needed rest. As always, this means that I spent quite a bit of time thinking about my future in the Coast Guard. What am I going to do when I graduate?

 

That question has been posed to Andy and me many times this summer. At this point, I don’t know what I’d like to do. I can see myself going to any platform of cutter or even going to a sector to do prevention (marine inspections). From what I’ve been told, going to certain platforms upon graduation can limit one’s career path in the Coast Guard. I would like to make service in the Coast Guard a career, so I’ve been spending a lot of time considering what I’d like to actually do long term. As I begin to figure that out, I can better decide which platform upon graduation would be best for preparing for that long-term specialty. Many Coasties have said that the best thing to do upon graduation is to go to a large cutter, and that is certainly an option, but I’m not planning to be a cutterman—that’s not why I joined the Coast Guard. I’ve been told that an ensign tour on a cutter is very valuable for young officers, but I am not fond of the idea of waiting two additional years before locking onto a specific career path just for a “valuable learning opportunity.” If I make the most of my first assignment, can’t I get the most valuable learning experience that will best prepare me for that career path? It’s not that I absolutely will not go to a cutter; in fact, I’d be happy with a buoy tender like Sequoia.

 

Of course the next question is, what is this specific career path that I want? I’ve changed my answer to this question many times, or rather, added answers to this question. The nice thing about having a career in the Coast Guard is that I can develop a specialty and then a subspecialty. I haven’t quite nailed down a subspecialty yet (but that’s mostly because I don’t really know what’s out there); I do think I’ve determined my desired specialty: organizational improvement. As I look back at my life, I’ve always been excited about taking whatever group that I’m part of—school, church youth group—to the next level of efficacy and efficiency. I love developing ideas for improving the way we do things. How can it be better for our people? How can we provide a better product or service? I can’t stand for status quo.

 

Over the next few months before we put in our dream sheets for our first billet, I’m going to be talking to officers at the Academy and elsewhere about how I put my drive to improve to work for the Coast Guard. From my experience talking with officers so far, everyone has their own opinion, so I’ll have to take these comments and this advice and synthesize it before making my decision. That analysis has already begun this summer, and I am glad that I’ve had these past two months to begin to understand where I fit into the Coast Guard.

 

Ok, this is a long (and maybe somewhat rambling) blog, so I’ll pause here. I have two weeks left in Guam. Let’s hope that there aren’t any tropical storms that threaten the island. If that’s the case, we may have to get underway again to avoid the storm! We actually went offshore for about 30 hours this past weekend for a storm. Hopefully next week I’ll have some exciting Guam exploration stories to share!

 

More about Justin.

 

Each Summer is Better Than the Last

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Krakower Photo As I sit here on the mess deck of USCGC Seahawk, I look back on a summer that has allowed me to experience more than I ever thought I would ever be given when I first applied to the Coast Guard Academy over three years ago. When I applied, I really did not understand much about the Coast Guard, despite my best intentions to learn. When I applied, I was also much less knowledgeable of the world, my surroundings, and what occurs outside of our 50 states. This summer has given me the final push required to complete my four-year tenure at the Coast Guard Academy. Want to hear about it? Just keep on reading!

 

1/c Andrew Ratti and I have been through almost every Academy summer together. We were swabs together, we were cadre together, and this year, we were both given the opportunity to go to Sector Southeast New England…and Israel. Sector was an interesting few weeks, learning about what the Command Center entails, and how thorough and critical the prevention and response departments of a sector truly are. We knew, however, that the opportunity at sector was only filler for the remaining weeks of our first phase together – the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) program in Israel. Along with 1/c Gever, we joined 27 other service academy cadets on a three-week adventure to the Holy Land. It was eye opening, and words can’t express the wonders we saw. From the Ramon Crater to the Dead Sea, from the Golan Heights to the Jordan River, from the Sea of Galilee to Tel Aviv; it all was an adventure and incredible earning experience. Until you’ve been to Israel, you don’t understand what is happening over there. You can guess from media outlets that are biased, and you can make your own opinions, based upon the inaccuracy being reported. But until you visit the Middle East, there’s no room to judge, or understand, what is going on, and why certain agreements just will not work. That trip was amazing, and very much worth the time off from USCG operations.

 

Despite that, we came back to the United States, and I headed to the USCGC Seahawk, an 87-foot patrol boat in Panama City, Florida (I know, my summer was extremely difficult). Here, I’ve worked on getting Inport Officer of the Deck qualified, Crewmember of the Watch qualified, and getting the many, many signatures that come with the Academy personal qualification standard (PQS) packet. We’ve only been underway for five to six days since I’ve been here my five weeks, but next week is underway every day until I leave. The crew has been amazing, and I’ve learned a lot about what I want to do when I get out into the fleet. It also gave me my ideas as to what I want to put in for as my billet choices, which, somehow, is only seven months away.

 

So to put it short and sweet, this summer has been the best summer since I’ve been here. Each summer was better than the last, which I guess is the way it’s meant to be. I’m excited to take my leave, but I’ll be just as excited to head back to the CGA and finish this last year of school. That butter bar is getting closer and closer!

 

More about Sam.

 

Who Doesn't Love Sailing Around the Caribbean?

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Cannon Photo This summer has been unforgettable. Not only was I able to sail around the Caribbean for five weeks, but I was able to sail with some of my best friends. Eagle was an adventure of its own, with the tiring 0400-0800 watches, countless sail stations (where we would set the sails), and being surrounded by the same group of people in tight quarters for over a month straight. Despite this, I can honestly say that I had an overall positive experience. I made so many new friends just by working together during this time, and I grew more as a person than I had ever anticipated.

 

The highlights of my time on the boat was definitely the port calls, specifically Puerto Rico and Aruba. In Puerto Rico, my friends and I were able to jump off waterfalls in the country's national rainforests. I do not know many people who can say that they have done that at some point in their life. In addition, Aruba was incredibly clean, the beaches were white as snow, and the food was out of this world! Some folks struggled to find the positives when times got tough, but I am happy I was able to experience Eagle so early in my career. My knowledge was amplified, I befriended even more of my classmates, and I learned to have a lot more respect for the enlisted personnel in the Coast Guard. They are some of the hardest workers I have ever met, and I cannot wait to have the privilege of working with the enlisted personnel again in less than three short years.

 

This summer continually gets better and better, and I cannot wait to get back to the Academy in the fall to continue where I left off!

 

Go Braves, Go Books, Go Bears!

 

More about Colton.

 

Now, For Our Future Presentation…

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo What better place to be eating breakfast right now than a Starbucks in Seattle, Washington? This summer, I’ve been assigned to the USCGC Midgett, a 378-foot cutter based in Seattle and responsible for patrols from the equator and northward. What an awesome experience it’s been! If you’re a prospective student, you’ve heard this too many times… but, summer assignments are definitely one of the highlights of being a cadet. I, along with two other 3/c (huzzah, we got promoted!) and two 1/c, picked up Midgett in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. We then patrolled in northern waters, including a port call in Kodiak, and then sailed back down here to Washington. I’ve never been to any of those places before, which has made for a great time of discovery! There is so much to see in Seattle, and Alaska has one of the loveliest natural environments I’ve encountered!

 

As someone with a definite travel bug, it’s been so neat to visit these places. But, really, the most important part of this assignment to the Midgett has been meeting the crew and learning everything about the boat. So much goes on a cutter this size – boarding ops, navigation, and a personal favorite of mine, flight ops. And even off the boat, we’ve been able to see various facets of the Coast Guard – we visited Air Station Kodiak, and this coming week will be checking out sector Seattle. We’ve been running around on board, getting qualified in helm and lookout, staring at stars for celestial navigation, and looking at the engineering departments; the energy never stops! I truly had a wonderful time underway with Midgett.

 

This summer has also had an undeniable impact on my future plans. Everybody asks at some point what I want to do when I commission in four years, and honestly, I had only a couple vague ideas. You might be in the same spot, if you’re thinking about attending here or getting ready for Swab Summer (t-minus 23 days for 2018!); don’t worry. There are so many things to do in the Coast Guard; you will find something that you will love. After being here in Seattle, and being on an Alpat (the nickname for an Alaskan patrol), I am all the more certain that I will put in for one of the cutters engaged in icebreaking ops, namely Healy. For one, I am still interested in the northern environment; for another, I liked Alaska; for another, I still get really excited when I see whales, which is a good thing for the science on Healy of which I’m hoping to be a part; and finally, I wouldn’t mind being stationed here in Seattle! Icebreaking ops are looking all the more intriguing after this summer. But then again, that air station and the aviation communities are pretty neat too, more so than I realized at first… so I guess I’m not fully decided. But hey, I’ve got two more summers ahead to help me decide!

 



More about Abby.

 

Here's to the Classes of 2016 and 2018

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo Well, I’ve finally returned from a refreshing three weeks of leave at home. It was great to spend time with my family and get some much needed sleep! I spent a lot of time at the beach soaking up the sun, hiking, traveling, and having no schedule. But, as always, leave flies by and in the blink of an eye you’re back in Chase Hall. And, of course, I come back only to find out I’m senior 2/c for Echo this week – there is never a dull moment here! However, coming back from this break was easy; I’m returning to 2/c summer! This summer has so many exciting aspects. For one, the class of 2016 finally has the civilian clothing privilege which is the BEST. Each week brings a different exciting training all dedicated to making us better leaders and more prepared to be officers in the Coast Guard. Most importantly, we are cadre for the incoming swabs (freshman). This is something I’ve looked forward to since my days back at prep school. Words can’t express how excited I am to train the Class of 2018. I know it will be a great experience for me and all of 2016.

 

It’s always sad to leave home and my family, but I’m excited and ready to take on the training and responsibilities this summer has in store for me. It’s been a long, tough, and trying road this far into my Academy career, but it has been so worth it. As hard as it may have been, I’m genuinely happy, comfortable, and incredibly thankful to all who have helped me get to this point. Here’s to the Class of 2016 and all we are about to take on. Also, here’s to the Class of 2018…we can’t wait for you to get here… :)

 

As always, e-mail me with any questions you may have at Allyson.J.Roesch@uscga.edu.

 



More about Allie.