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cadet blogs

A Reflection on the Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo As I am packing into my new room, in my new company, I cannot help but be amazed by how fast time has gone by. It feels like I had just begun my summer training.

 

I was on a fast response cutter (FRC) for the first five weeks of my training. It was my first real taste of the operational Coast Guard and it was unforgettable. I was given the opportunity to travel to new places like Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and St. Lucia. We worked hard to get our qualifications and made new friendships with the amazing crew of the CGC Charles Sexton. The missions of the FRC include drug and migrant interdiction as well as search and rescue. I was able to be a part of two drug chases and a rescue mission of a sinking cargo vessel. Firsthand experience with the missions of the Coast Guard was a great way to apply what I have been learning at the Academy as well as to learn new skills. After five weeks, I parted ways with the Charles Sexton and headed off to spend six weeks on the CGC Eagle for more training. I had a wonderful time on Eagle while I was there. I learned valuable lessons from the crew about leadership and followership. Unfortunately, I broke my foot on Eagle and was not able to complete that training. Instead, I was sent back to the Academy to finish out my training at station New London. So this summer I was able to experience all three third class summer possibilities because I was able to go on a cutter, spend time on Eagle, and go to a station. I find myself very fortunate to have had this opportunity to experience these varying environments.

 

Once on leave, I crammed as much adventure and fun with my family as I could. I went to the zoo and also went to Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida and the loggerhead turtle rehabilitation center in Palm Beach, Florida. I was able to recharge being around those I love and come back to the Academy prepared for another dynamic school year.

 

More about Sydney.

 

Only the Beginning of My Fantastic Journey

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sakowicz Photo This summer has been the most exciting and greatest fun I ever had! Finally earning my red shields and being allowed to call myself a third class was only the beginning of my fantastic journey!

 

My summer started the day after my last final where I met the CGC Eagle on the New London docks. Nothing compares to the feeling of knowing you will spend the next five weeks learning to operate a square rig sailing vessel. Over the next five weeks I learned the 200+ pins and lines, I sat on the bowsprit at 0200 watching dolphins swim through the bioluminescence and climbed to the royals in rough seas! I learned how to navigate by the stars, turn on the main diesel engine and make baggy wrinkle. What I learned on board was amazing and the people I worked with were even better! What really made my trip was the port calls; three days in Puerto Rico, Aruba, Cozumel Mexico and a day in Miami! The new places and cultures was an eventful break from the hard work on Eagle. I really liked my time on board and hope the future sailors have as great a time as I did!

 

My second phase was six weeks on the CGC Dauntless. The cutter'a home port is Gaveston, Texas but it was dry docked in Brooklyn for the six weeks I was on. This wasn't a tragedy for me I live only an hour away so I was able to visit my family and friends on my off days. The Dauntless was so much different that the Eagle in more ways than just sails. The dynamic of the crew and the flow of work was very smooth and everyone got their work done swiftly and efficiently. The crew took us in and put us to work and I was able to experience what it was like to be a functioning member of the Coast Guard. I made a lot of good friends on both my phases and I was able get so much out of all of these experiences; I couldn't have asked for a better summer. now it is time to take my leave before returning to the Academy for my second year. Thank you for reading!

 

More about Emily.

 

Expect the Unexpected

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Back in late April when 2017 was briefed by the Cadet Training Branch, we received handbooks on what we should expect for 3/c summer. There was the expected: conduct standards, some sign-offs, and a template on evaluation for the end of the summer. But this summer's turn of events has been unexpected. Following Eagle, my unit was switched last minute to another cutter close to home. Today I passed my Repair Party Electrician (RPE) board (oral examination). On Eagle, we learned Damage Control basics, that is, how to control fire, flooding, and general emergencies in a maritime environment. I was never exposed to firefighting or emergency response growing up, but learning the basics on Eagle piqued my interest. When I came aboard my summer unit after Eagle, I made it my goal to obtain the advanced qualification. After completing that qualification early, I flipped to the back of the book to see what was left: Repair Electrician. I knew nothing about electricity before I got on this boat, and admittedly I was a bit intimidated by something I knew nothing about. Luckily, my unit is preparing for Tailored Ship's Training and Availability (TSTA), which measures (on an annual basis) each unit's knowledge, efficiency, and strategy in responding to a wide variety of emergencies, from an engine room fire to a man overboard pickup. There's been a drill almost every day, and the cadets were given the opportunity to participate in each one. I started to learn more and more about setting up casualty power systems from the emergency diesel generator, how to electrically and mechanically isolate a space, and the principles behind power generation. I found myself studying something I never thought I would be interested in, and the Electrician's Mate Chief on board and other electrician's mates took the time out of their day to go over the qualification. I surprised myself and passed the board, and now I'm RPE-qualified. Who'd a thunk I would be interested in electricity?

 

This summer has exposed me to different parts of the Coast Guard, interacting with different people from different backgrounds, from Operation Specialists to Food Service Specialists. There are many different personalities, both good and bad. That was unexpected. Nearly everybody at the Academy behaves in a uniform manner, and strictly adheres to the honor concept. There are people in the fleet who do not do this, to my surprise, and even people who don't like cadets for no reason. The Coast Guard is like any other organization: there are really good people and there is the handful of not so good people. In their defense, we sometimes get in the way and there's times where we can't help out, but we mean well. Luckily, this is only a small fraction of people in the "real" Coast Guard. Most people are welcoming and curious, and receptive to having cadets aboard their unit, especially the command. The other 3/c cadets and I attended a wardroom outing with all of the officers in Charleston, and there was some great conversation. Charleston was one of my favorite port calls; another surprise. Having visited Aruba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Charleston had the most to do, some of the friendliest people, and the best weather. Admittedly, Aruba was a close runner-up. Another shocker, my girlfriend surprised me by showing up to the base I just pulled into! I am excited for leave in a few days, and I plan on going to Busch Gardens in Virginia, seeing old (and new) friends, reading, and working out. The biannual Physical Fitness Examination is coming up soon, so most cadets are ramping up their workouts to get their best score. But in a few more days and I would be home enjoying leave!

 

Finally home, I find myself bored. I saw all of my friends from high school, and while we laughed like old times, we all have different interests. For many of my friends, they are almost done or halfway through college. They are coming to terms with finding jobs in a year or so, and it seems like we have all grown up. Being home for me now is somewhat boring, I no longer get the same satisfaction from the stuff I did in high school. At 20, the boardwalk is familiar like the back of my hand, and there isn’t much else to do in South Jersey. Today I went up to Philadelphia to find something to do, and I will be leaving for Busch Gardens in a week. I am, however, looking forward to seeing the Statue of Liberty over leave, as it’s something I’ve never done before. I spent a night in Chase Hall after flying into Providence Airport, and it was strange being back. I felt a sense of ownership, and I guess that is natural when you are allowed to look around and not have to square around the hallways. Leave won’t last forever—I need to order books soon…

 

More about William.

 

Summer, Take 2

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo As you might recall, in the last entry of the epic chronicle that is my cadet blog, I was sitting in a Seattle Starbucks discussing my time on the USCGC Midgett. Right now, I’m sitting in another food venue (seems to be a trend here...); but, this time, it’s the mess deck of the Barque Eagle, the Coast Guard tall ship and Academy’s training vessel. And, I might add, the only active duty tall ship in the U.S. military. Maybe the World Cup final will start playing on the mess deck TV, but to be quite honest, my faith in the ability to find satellite signal out in the Atlantic Ocean is weak.

 

Third class summer is broken into two parts. I, along with my classmates onboard Eagle right now, all started off at a cutter, small boat station, or playing late-season sports. Thus, we’re currently fulfilling the second half of our training on Eagle. These weeks are all about learning the “traditional” skills of sailing and navigation. We have bridge and engineering qualifications similar to those at our first units; but, in addition, we now have celestial navigation, damage control, and deck seamanship activities in which to participate as well. We have used sextants and stars to plot position, climbed the rigging and hauled lines to set sails, qualified helm and lookout, studied for the damage control exam, and learned the engineering watch stander round. So, in essence, we get to act out Pirates of the Caribbean for a month and a half. Arrgh!

 

Eagle is the distinctive feature of third class summer; most cadets will never sail on this ship again. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back, due to my desires to be Swab Summer cadre and to see icebreaking and other units as a firstie; but, I’m grateful to have had the chance to be on Eagle. The mission of the Coast Guard Academy is to create officers “with a liking for the sea and its lore,” and I believe Eagle and the traditions that surround it get us as close to that lore as we’ll ever be. Knowing how mariners have sailed throughout the years helps us to see how things have changed: what has improved and what is missing, what our roles as sailors demand now versus in the past, what new challenges we face. Having this background in square rigger sailing, a seemingly old-fashioned art, actually helps us understand the modern Coast Guard. It’s a unique experience of the Academy training program!

 

(And if you were wondering… the TV never did work.)

 

More about Abby.

 

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.