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2/c Summer – Best Summer at the Academy Yet

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Wow! A lot has happened since my last blog post in early March. I finished my fourth academic semester at the Academy, found out that I will be going on exchange to the Naval Academy for a semester of study in the fall, and have completed the first half of my 2/c summer training at the Academy. Time does fly! Before beginning the “summer term,” I was told by several upper-classmen that 2/c summer was the best summer by far at the Academy, and am happy to report that they were most defiantly right!


Because the rising 2/c cadets (equivalent of a junior at a civilian college) are the only students on campus for the first half of the summer, we had to move rooms while the rest of the corps moves out of the barracks for their summer tour in the fleet. It was strange moving out of my normal home in Hotel Company back to my old stomping grounds in Delta (where I did my 4/c year) for the summer, but it was definitely nice to catch up with friends in that wing area that I don’t see as often during the school year.


After the rest of the corps had left the Academy we began our first week of summer training: 100th week. Marking the midpoint of a cadet’s career at the Academy, during the week Cape May Company Commanders (think Marine drill instructor but Coast Guard style) come to the Academy to train the soon to be 2/c in becoming effective cadre that will train the swabs (incoming cadets). The week resembles a brief return to Swab Summer (our version of boot camp), but during the period we also learned a lot about effective leadership and became much closer as a class. At the end of the week, we had our formal promotion from 3/c to 2/c cadets, retook our oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and received the privilege of civilian clothes and weekend shorts (meaning you can leave the Academy on Saturday and not return until Sunday). Although a slightly stressful week, I definitely took away from the week some quality lessons on leadership and self-discipline.


Following 100th week was range week, where my classmates and I were able to qualify as pistol marksmen. This marked the first time I had shot a pistol and it was cool to learn tricks and pointers on shooting from the range personnel. Also during this week the Class of 2014 graduated from the Academy. It was a neat experience for me to be part of the graduation ceremonies, and it gave me a moment to observe what I will be experiencing in just two short years.


"2/c Summer - Best Summer at the Academy Yet (Continued) PDF 



More about James.


Summer Training: Coast Guard Aviation

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hello CGA blog readers! I am now five weeks into my summer training at the Academy, and I’m having a blast. Last week, I reported to Elizabeth City, North Carolina for the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP). In sum, CATP is a basic aviation familiarization program for cadets. Cadets are split between Elizabeth City and Mobile, which are the two biggest Coast Guard air stations. I went to Elizabeth City with 13 of my classmates and I had a great time all week.


The goal of CATP is to immerse cadets in Coast Guard aviation for a week so that we can see if we like it. It’s an extremely relaxed environment but there is no pressure to pursue aviation because of going to CATP. I went just to see what our aviation program was all about even though I had no intention of going to flight school. After the week was over, I had a lot more respect and understanding for the aviation side of the service, but I know I want to be underway for a long time in my career.


Overall, CATP was awesome, and I could talk about what we did forever but I’ll limit myself to the three coolest things I got to do while I was there. On Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure of meeting the Aviation Survival Technician (AST/ rescue swimmers) instructors. One of the senior chiefs there was in the movie The Guardian, and he talked to us for a little bit about his role in the movie. The AST facility is top of the line. They have a massive pool with equipment that can simulate hurricane force winds and massive waves so that the swimmers can feel what it’s like to be in a real rescue scenario. Also, they have two platforms to practice entry into the water from helos. The senior chief talked about the AST program and then we got to go in the pool for a ropes challenge. We had to climb a 30 foot rope, which was hanging next to a series of 10 foot ropes in a line. We were supposed to get up the first rope and carefully work our way down the line of other ropes. It was tough! I only made it to the third 10 foot rope before I let go. Only one person in my group of 14 finished. However, we were told that the ASTs can all finish it, which put into perspective how fit they really are.


Later that day, I was able to fly in a C130J, which is the Coast Guard’s long fixed wing aircraft. The C130J is used for spotting vessels/people in search and rescue cases, air dropping supplies from the cargo hold, spotting illegal fishing vessels, and many more missions. The C130 is fixed wing, which means that it is a plane, versus rotary (helicopters). During flight school, pilots choose which type of aircraft they want to fly (rotary vs. fixed wing), and then they receive specialized training in that aircraft. Anyway, I got to fly in the C130 and for most of the flight I was in the cockpit. After we took off, I got to ask the pilots questions and listen in on the communications. Then, they let me fly for a little while. It was awesome! It wasn’t all that hard to fly in a straight line with all the technology there to help, but it was still really cool. For the rest of the flight, we observed as the pilots practiced landing and taking of (touch and go’s) from an airport in West Virginia.


The following day, I was hoisted in a rescue basket. That was by far the coolest thing I got to do. We met some salty Coast Guard auxiliarists, who brought us to the lift site in their private vessel. Then, the helo arrived. I didn’t expect it, but the helo was ridiculously loud over water so close to us, and there was water spraying all over the place. The helo got low to the water, and then the rescue swimmer jumped out. At his signal, I jumped in the water and swam over to him. Then, he dragged me through the water on my back in a typical rescue technique, and he put me into the basket. It was loud the entire time, wind from the rotors made it hard to breathe, and pellets of water flying at 70+ knots pelted me in the face. But, despite all that, I could only think of how cool the experience was. I was hoisted all the way up to the helo, where I high fived one of the crew, and I was immediately lowered back down. The swimmer took me out of the basket and back toward the boat. I thought the whole experience was awesome. Now, I have a much better understanding of what the helo rescues are like in real life.


To wrap up, CATP was awesome. We had fun stuff to do every day as part of the program, and at night we could go to the beach, fish, work out, hang out, or do whatever we wanted pretty much. I’m glad I went.


As always, feel free to email me with questions!


More about Hunter.


Summer Training: Ship Handling

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Swab Summer is THREE weeks away. It is crazy to think that in 21 days, I will be training a new class of future officers. I can wait to get started, but in the meantime I have plenty of training myself. This past week, I participated in the summer ship handling program, which trains cadets the basics of seamanship aboard a 40-foot tug boat.


So what do I mean by seamanship? There is a lot that goes into it. For example, have you ever thought about starting a boat vs. starting a car? Unfortunately, turning on large vessels isn’t as easy as turning a key! There is a long checklist that needs to be completed before turning a T-boat on and getting underway. Throughout the week, we practiced other aspects of seamanship including: getting underway from the pier, docking, line handling, dropping anchor, driving the ship on the helm, controlling the throttle, and giving the commands to drive the ship. Most days, we would get underway to get practical experience on the T-boat. Then, in the afternoon, we would learn the theory behind it all, and then we would practice again on our simulators at the Academy. The simulators are cool because you can set up almost any scenario: getting underway, docking, and driving the ship, to name a few. The simulator was pretty cool and was very helpful practice.


That’s the summary of the T-boat program. The coolest part of the week was Wednesday, when my group spent all day underway. We went down to the boat at about 0800, and we were able to start it all by ourselves. Then, our supervising safety officer arrived and we got underway. I had the honor of getting the boat underway, docking it, and getting it underway again! Then, our safety officer threw a life ring overboard and screamed, “man overboard!” I was a little surprised, but I knew what I had to do because we had practiced man overboard drills on the simulator the day before. I had to turn the ship around to circle back to the life ring. Also, I had to be sure to get close enough to the life ring (at a slow speed) without hitting it. Then, we recovered the life ring with a boat hook. The rest of the day, we alternated commanding the cutter, anchoring, and man overboard drills. Around noon, we anchored the T-boat and had a swim call. We had the pleasure of jumping off the side of the boat into the freezing cold water. The water was so cold I could hardly spend a few minutes in it! After the swim call, we had a cookout on the deck and relaxed for a while. Then we got back underway for more practice. Overall, it was an awesome day. I learned a lot from the practical experience, and I enjoyed working with my group.


If you have any questions at all about the Academy, please feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you!


More about Hunter.


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


More about Allie.


Summer Update

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Belanger Photo Well, it has been a while since I wrote a blog! So much has happened since my last update. First and foremost, congratulations to the Class of 2014! They finally made it! The class that was my cadre graduated! It is entirely too strange to think that I am now only two years away from my commission. But something even stranger is the fact this summer I will take on the role as cadre for the incoming Class of 2018. Last year I wrote a blog as a 3/c on how to survive Swab Summer and now I’m going to give a few more tips from the cadre perspective.


1. Just follow instructions. Everything we tell you has a purpose. Whether it applies to safety, uniform standards, etc. We will not waste time giving you information that has no point in the matter.


2. Sound off. WE WANT YOU TO BE LOUD! We are going to be loud so please be loud also. You may start to lose your voice, (I did the first day of my Swab Summer) but this just means you are using your throat instead of your diaphragm. Make the adjustment and continue to be loud.


3. Don’t give up! You can do much more than you think. You can always run farther, you can always do those extra push ups. We have safety measures in place so you do not get hurt. If we see you pushing too hard we will stop you. Just try with all your might and never say “I can’t.”


4. Embrace the Coast Guard Core Values. You will learn them on the very first day. Do not lie to your cadre. Respect yourself, your shipmates, and your cadre. We all will work together one day in the fleet. You will end up disliking some of us throughout the summer; however just remember we only act this way for seven weeks throughout the entire 200 week program.


5. Memorize, memorize, memorize. There is a lot to learn. You will get frustrated, but you can do it. I struggled during CGAS learning indoc until I found a way that worked. When I came back for Swab Summer I applied the same technique and it made my summer much more enjoyable.


6. Remember this is only seven weeks long. You can do it. All of my class has faith in each and every one that enters through these doors. We will not hold grudges, single people out, or make your life difficult. We are training you to be members of the United States Coast Guard. It will be challenging. It is demanding. But there are a countless number of officers that have made it through the program. You have this, take a deep breath, reset and drive on. One quote that the Army has is “Drink water and drive on.”


7. The last note isn’t a tip but….just remember, we have been waiting for this moment for two years now…and we are ready for you.


You will be trained by the GREAT CLASS OF 2016, so good luck Class of 2018!


Got a question? Email me!


More about Nathan.