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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

Coast Guard Family

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Kim Photo You’ve probably heard of the phrase “Coast Guard Family” once or twice already. When I was applying in high school, I never truly understood it, perhaps because it just sounded a little too cheesy or simply because I was not part of it, yet.

 

Fast forward a couple months (past Swab Summer!) and here I am as a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Surprisingly, this once cheesy phrase has slowly become a reality. The family-like environment is truly strange and magical. Being the small service the Coast Guard is, there are just about 1,000 cadets here, in comparison to the 4,000 at the other service academies. That being said, I see and talk to the same wonderful people at all our daily morning and afternoon formations, which have become an amazing routine – and I absolutely love it!

 

Cadets who were once strangers, instantly become like family members. These unique relationships help keep me accountable and in check with the high standards that I am to uphold, here at the Academy. These people motivate me and offer great advice, just as a “real” family would.

 

I’ve felt the same family-like experience outside of the Academy as well. Being from California, my chances of visiting home are slim because it is so far away. Thus, when we were awarded with our first long weekend since had Swab Summer ended, I had nowhere to go. Fortunately for me, however, many of whom I consider family members offered the hospitality of their homes for me to relax in after the grueling seven weeks. Through these great people, I have made incredible memories and have had the opportunities to visit NYC, Boston, Virginia, D.C., and the list goes on and on. I never imagined visiting Times Square or the Smithsonian museums, and, of course, these memories wouldn’t have been made possible without my Coast Guard family.

 

Make no mistake; this Coast Guard family also applies to the other side of the nation. My mother who works at Long Beach, California is constantly making new friends with the Coast Guardsmen stationed at Long Beach. When they mention that they are in the service, she mentions that I am currently a cadet at the Academy and, instantly, a stronger relationship is built. She calls me often saying she loves this Coast Guard family culture, a new idea within our family.

 

I am forever thankful for the family environment within the Coast Guard!

 

More about Matthew.

 

Lighting the World

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Kearney Photo The stars have never burned brighter nor has the water glowed bluer than that which I saw this past summer. You see, I’m fascinated by lights. I saw the green glow of the Space Needle on the Seattle skyline. I saw the orange lanterns of a Hawaiian Memorial Day celebration float across Honolulu’s waters with the shadow of a mountain behind us rising out of the Pacific. I saw the reflections of old London structures off the puddles of rain in the streets. I saw green, purple and gold firecrackers bloom above the Madeiran city of Funchal blanketed in terracotta as people watched with awe. I saw the moon’s glow dance lightly off the cool Bermuda water to the soft beach at my feet. I saw the green sparkle of tiny ocean life riding the waves past the ship’s hull in the pitch black of night. I saw the dazzling lightning bugs glitter the fresh air of the Shenandoah Valley, my home. I have no tales of saving lives or hunting drugs like some of my fellow classmates, but I still got to see the lights of the world. You might be wondering what has this got to do with the Coast Guard? Everything. It’s the little things that matter the most in life. Never forget that.

 

But if you want to know actual Coast Guard work, I did get to do some cool things like needle-gunning, sanding, and painting on the USCGC Polar Star, USCGC Sherman, and of course USCGC Barque Eagle. I drove a small boat en route to drill with an HC-130H (an airplane) and drilled with helicopter basket lowering. I became qualified in standard Coast Guard duties on board a vessel and learned so much from the various crews. I would like thank all of the crews of the units I visited for their immense knowledge, skill, and willingness to help train me and my fellow cadets throughout the summer. In addition to work duties, I got to have the most secluded “pool party” in the world as I literally jumped into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with 150 of my closest friends. I got to see whales, dolphins, jellyfish, the Seattle Mariners, Big Ben, men dressed in all white pushing people down a hill in baskets, so so many beaches in Hawaii and Bermuda, and turtles – lots of turtles.

 

More about Alex.

 

Hello, It’s Me

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2019) Permanent link
King Photo A few months ago, I got a letter in the mail from myself. I had written a letter to my future self two years ago at a summer camp and it was time to open it again. I had nearly forgotten about it, and eagerly ripped it open, excited to hear the wisdom of high school me.

 

The first thing I noticed was the terrible handwriting. It was large and uneven. It was funny – it started in cursive, than quickly switched to print. I guess I figured that I shouldn’t have been too fancy in my own letter. The very first question besides “How are you?” was “Did you get into the Coast Guard Academy?” I’m sure high school me would be happy to hear that I made it in.

 

Reading it, I realized that I couldn’t write letters that well back then. I also realized that I’ve grown so much in those two years since writing the letter. I am much more focused and calm. I have gone on so many adventures like sailing across the Atlantic and lived through Swab Summer. I also went through two years of trials, such as Calculus and 4/c year. Both have helped me learn more about the world and myself.

 

That being said, high school me did have some good pointers. In the letter, I told myself to be persistent and have a sense of humor. Looking back, I wish I could tell my high school self to be more adaptable and careful, but hindsight is always 20/20.

 

A new year and new semester are coming up and, pretty soon, I will be transitioning to be a leader. While I’m proud of how much I’ve learned in the last two years, I know there is much to improve on. I am excited to find out what the next two years and beyond will bring.

 

More about Deborah.

 

Family is What You Make It

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Opas Photo When I first joined the Coast Guard, I considered myself to have an incredibly small family. Biologically speaking, it was just my parents, my two siblings, and me. Throughout high school, I’d expanded to include a handful of incredibly close friends, but even then, I had a small support network. Moreover, I’d subscribed to the school of thought that defined family as the people you chose to surround yourself with. But my time here at the Academy has taught me that family is something you don’t choose, rather it is thrust upon you. Even in the beginning of the semester and after Swab Summer, I didn’t realize how much my family had grown.

 

Sure, I had my company mates ‒ my fellow fourth class ‒ who I’d toughed out Swab Summer with. Yet even among such a group, there were those of us who didn’t click. I was truly lucky to have roomed in fourth deck Charlie fall semester, on a p-way of only fourth class. Somewhat sequestered from the rest of the wing area, we formed a tight-knit bond as our own little unit. Leaning on each other for anything from late-night Statics and Engineering Design homework help to ironing a buddy’s shirt before a formal room and wing because he had a rugby game, we had our own little microcosm. And it ran like a well-oiled machine. Yes, we had our little spats. Two or three of us would be grumpy the whole week prior to an exam, but then we’d all pile into someone’s room and shoot the breeze on a Saturday night instead of going out on liberty, just to decompress as a fam. We had our one practical joker, our resident bookworm, our cynic, our cheerleader, the list went on. Everyone was a piece of the puzzle and that suited each of us just fine. But there was another of my company mates who lived on third deck, far away from the fourth deck biosphere. She has become a sister and a mother to me, through all the first semester’s trials and tribulations.

 

It was roughly 10 a.m. the Saturday of Parents’ Weekend, the two of us standing in the grass before Hamilton Hall with the hordes of parents and loved ones, all related in some fashion or other to different members of the Corps of Cadets. My parents were unable to make it up to Connecticut for the weekend, so I didn’t have anyone to look forward to seeing. To top it off, I was recovering from an injury ‒ just like my shipmate ‒ so we both couldn’t drill. But from the moment she and I waved her parents over to join us in watching the pomp and circumstance of the special drill ceremony, that bond of sisterhood solidified. Her unconditional acceptance of me into her family is one of the things that has grounded me during my time in New London, in an environment where it’s really easy to lose yourself in the stress.

 

Your family here is that which makes you smile and laugh every day in spite of all the class assignments, sports obligations, and military trainings. It’s what makes you get up in the morning instead of rolling over after reveille to sleep in, like any other college kid. It makes getting through the workday an exercise in trying not to laugh at each other’s blunders rather than a string of failures and insurmountable challenges. The idea of family is that which makes the Coast Guard the Coast Guard, and it’s what makes this academy just that little bit better than its sister academies.

 

More about Leah.

 

Support, Strength, Family

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Wheeler Photo Over the course of my (almost) one semester here, I have noticed something about the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Something unique to our school and something I have heard translates into the fleet as well. There is a sense of togetherness here that I haven’t experienced anywhere else, a corps-wide bond that is unspoken but mutual. Everyone here treats each other as family and will help each other, regardless of class or age, without a moment’s hesitation. Sure I experienced friendships and support at Marion Military Institute (my prep school), but there is something very special about the Academy, something about its size and the mindset that is shared by each and every cadet that fosters strong ties and connections, promoting a family unit. If there is one thing that sets the U.S. Coast Guard Academy apart from every other service academy, let alone every other college in the nation, it is the support system that can be described as nothing short of family.

 

More about Pat.