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cadet blogs

Pilot Shadow Program Recap

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sandri Photo Last spring, three friends and I had an opportunity to spend a weekend at Air Station Cape Cod for the Pilot Shadow Program. This program is organized by the Academy’s Aviation Division and allows for cadets to experience air station life by hanging out in the barracks and accompanying the crew on flights.

 

I had a chance to ride in an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter out of Air Station Atlantic City two summers ago. The crew carried out an exciting two-aircraft drill. The experience was awesome but with R-Day on the horizon and having limited knowledge of the Coast Guard, I was not considering flight as a possible career path.

 

This time around, we were able to look at station life as a possible future. Some highlights of the trip were flying the fixed-wing CASA airplane through a storm as snowflakes pelted the windshield, doing a door-open flyover of Boston in the MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter, and having lunch with one of the pilots until he was called away on a search and rescue case.

 

I’m still not sure what I want to do in the Coast Guard but the Pilot Shadow Program opened my eyes to a new possibility.

 

More about Eva.

 

2/c Summer Part 1: 100th Week

(Overcoming Challenges, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo When most college students finish their finals, it is a relief. The end of finals week means either going home to see family and friends or going on vacation. Not for us. 2/c summer begins with 100th Week, which marks the halfway point in our time at the Academy (200 weeks). There are some great videos on YouTube that explain it but basically the Company Commanders (CCs) from Cape May, New Jersey, where enlisted Coast Guard members go through basic training, visit the Academy to train the 3/c for the cadre role that they will fulfill later in the summer.

 

On the Monday morning after finals, I was woken up at 0500 to yelling and strangers banging on my door. The voices screamed, “Get out on this bulkhead right now!” My roommate and I ran into the hallway and braced up into the position of attention against the nearest wall. Girls were yelled at for hair and earrings that were not within regulations and guys were yelled at for not shaving. It was like Swab Summer for the rest of the morning; we were given objectives and punished with exercises when we didn’t meet them. It was a lot better than Swab Summer for me though because things were explained to us. We didn’t do anything without a reason. They yelled at us to remind us how it feels. They were harsh with uniform inspections to remind us to respect the uniform and get us out of just going through the motions.

 

Throughout the rest of the week, it became more of a learning environment. The CCs would pull a few people aside to run inspections or incentive training sessions. This gave us the opportunity to practice being cadre and develop a command presence. It was a very valuable experience for future Swab Summer cadre.

 

We also spent time in the classroom working through team-building activities and developing leadership philosophies. I met with the other Eagle cadre, who I will be working with this summer, to come up with a description of how we want to lead and train the Class of 2019.

 

The week ended with a group run, a leadership reaction course and a surface rescue mission. The leadership reaction course provided each of us with the opportunity to lead a small group of people to find a solution to a problem. For the surface rescue mission, we broke into groups and used maps to locate life-size 100-pound dummies and carry them miles to reach a base area. Each task was challenging and brought my classmates together in ways we hadn’t experienced since Swab Summer.

 

Friday afternoon, we renewed the pledge we took on R-Day and earned our 2/c shoulder boards and the privilege to wear civvies (normal clothes).

 

More about Sarah.

 

Transition to 2/c Year

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo So here we are one day before becoming second class (2/c) cadets. That means in one day we become upperclassmen, we are allowed to wear civilian attire, and are granted a much more liberal liberty. I am typing this while wearing a red cadre shirt. It’s unreal for us but also for the Class of 2015 as they watch us take the reins of leadership and pack their trunks to prepare for their graduation. Only two years ago we were their swabs; that time has gone quickly. Some officers and chiefs around the Academy have moved up a paygrade since I’ve been here, so that is validation that I’ve been here for a while! The days have been slow but the weeks and months have gone by extremely fast.

 

This past week marked 100th Week, which is the halfway point for our class. The Cape May Company Commanders, or the petty officers and chief petty officers who run the enlisted boot camp in New Jersey, instructed us on the basics of leading the new cadets who will arrive on June 29. The first day of 100th Week, we relived our swab lives—taking orders, sounding off, and being pushed physically. As the training progressed, we transitioned into a more instructional environment when the Company Commanders took a back seat as we led each other. Preparing for Reporting-In Day, some of us acted as cadre while others acted as swabs. It was strange yelling at our own classmates but it was part of the process of learning how to address swabs on R-Day. I tried to think back to my cadre, and the maxim that “you will never feel that you are as good as your own cadre” held true for me—it was extremely difficult keeping up the intensity and giving instruction, but we will get better as it as we get closer to R-Day. I did however find it hilarious that I caught myself practicing the same mannerisms and verbiage that my cadre used on me when I was a swab. For the remaining two days, our class completed a team run, conducted land navigation, and worked through the leader reaction obstacle course on a Connecticut army base. It got me pumped up and was a great reminder that I am still a member of the military after a lax 3/c year.

 

3/c year is very laid back and is probably the “least military” out of the four years at the Academy. This is for a good reason—it is the most academically challenging. Sadly, we are saying goodbye to many shipmates before recommitment on Friday. After 3/c year, cadets need to decide if they will commit to serving after completing two more years at the Academy. This past semester was especially difficult and it was the first semester at the Academy that I did not make the Dean’s List. In my last blog post, I mentioned that I switched my major from Government to Management. I was better at writing papers, as this makes up the bulk of work for Government majors but the Management major has many more tests and math-based courses. I wanted to challenge myself and I sure did with the math courses. I did not come close to the academic standard that I upheld during my previous three semesters at the Academy, but I learned the most. To gain acceptance to the Management major, the main hurdles are Financial Accounting and Probability/Statistics. I failed a few tests in both of these classes but I still made it out alright in the end. The way I see it is that while these classes were rough, I learned a lot and it will now allow me to take electives in what I really want to dig into as a Management major. I can’t wait to take electives linked to the required Organizational Behavior (OB) course I took this semester. I discovered that Organization Behavior is something I am good at, and something that I enjoy studying. I look forward to taking classes in OB and Human Resources in the fall.

 

3/c year was indeed an academic struggle. It was information overload with more than 20 credits in the fall. I began to stress over the fact that I probably would be out of the running for a Truman, Marshall, or Rhodes scholarship, which I was actually working toward with professors. But then I realized that I just need to do my best and that what’s really important is learning for the sake of learning. I didn’t come here to win a fancy scholarship—I came here to commission as an officer in the Coast Guard. My biggest mentor at the Academy and my former company chief, AMTCS Cain, reminded me of this when I was stressing out at midterms. He told me to hold on to what makes this place important: receiving a commission in another two years. No matter how it gets done, it will get done and nobody in the fleet will care if I had a 2.0 GPA or a 4.0 GPA. Still, I want to get as high of a GPA as possible because that’s just who I am. Regardless, my future subordinates and superiors will only care if I can lead and be led and have the organizational skillset to be a team player in today’s Coast Guard. Indeed, it is this attitude that I will strive to embody as I take on the role of cadre for the incoming Class of 2019 in late June. Failure is inevitable at this institution and the incoming class needs to understand that failure is the best producer of success—we can only succeed by learning from our past failures.

 

More about Will.

 

Stress Comes in Waves

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo At the Academy, stress comes in waves. Sometimes you have control as if you’re perfectly balanced on a surfboard riding over the waves. Other times, it seems like everything is coming at you at once and you’re drowning in work.

 

April put me in that drowning state. It was a challenging month for me, as I planned the 3/c formal, worked on numerous end-of-semester projects, took my last few tests, and then prepared for finals. It was that last push of the semester. I knew that the summer would come soon and they say that 2/c summer is the best one at the Coast Guard Academy. Still, it was so hard to find the motivation to finish the semester strong.

 

At the beginning of April, I was working on planning the 3/c formal. I had signed up to be on the planning committee and although it ended up being a lot more work than I expected, it was so rewarding to see my vision come together. The week of the formal was really stressful because other events in Leamy Hall prevented my classmates and me from setting up decorations until the night before the dance. It was a scramble to get everything set up but it was truly beautiful to see my class come together to get it all done and make Leamy look and sound amazing for the dance.

 

Throughout that week and the next few, I had tons of group projects to finish. Most of our professors assign us projects at the end of the semester to give us a way to pull together what we’ve learned and as an opportunity to boost our grades.

 

It was a relief to get to finals week, which provides us with a lot more free time than most other weeks at the Academy. The only things we have to focus on are studying and moving out of our rooms. 4/c and 2/c move their stuff into the trunk room and pack for their summer assignments. 3/c and 1/c move their stuff into other rooms for the summer or temporarily until graduation, respectively. Although it keeps us busy, it is mindless work that is a relief after taking a final.

 

The day after finals week, we start our summer assignments. I’m so excited to see what this summer holds for me in all the training programs on the itinerary for my class. As we learn to become cadre and grow into our role as 2/c, a new wave of stress will crash and we’ll take on the responsibility of training the Class of 2019.

 

More about Sarah.

 

The Regiment

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Looking out the library window today, and accidently stumbling across a pile of admissions materials while on watch, I am thinking back to my first visit to the Academy in the spring of 2011 as a high school sophomore. I remember peering into the new quad looking at the cadets in formation, and I wondered why they were all standing there in the hot sun in complete silence.

 

Since I am standing Library Duty Officer today, which is infamously long, I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss how the Corps of Cadets is organized now that I understand it.

 

At the bottom, the 4/c are the lowest of the low. 4/c have just come out of Swab Summer and are learning how to adapt to the demands and excitement of Academy life. 4/c spend much of their time studying for their indoctrination board, which is the examination of one year of Coast Guard and Academy knowledge. 4/c stand regimental duty as orderlies, meaning they do the cleaning in Chase Hall and message carrying from the Commandant of Cadets, Company Officers and everyone in between. They stand in the back of formation, and they have no stripes on their shoulder boards. They are the unsung heroes of Chase Hall.

 

Next up are the 3/c who are responsible for ensuring the development of the 4/c and are also assigned many other collateral responsibilities. 3/c stand watches as the Library Duty Officer, Junior Cadet Duty Officer in the watch office answering phones, and make “pipes” or announcements over the Chase Hall intercom. They are responsible for signing 4/c up for duty and take accountability of the company’s 4/c. 3/c also stand a rotating watch of their respective companies during meals along with a rotating 2/c cadet. 3/c cadets have one diagonal stripe.

 

2/c cadets mark the divide between underclass (3/c and 4/c) and the 1/c. 2/c cadets stand duty as Admissions Duty Officer, Assistant Commander’s Duty Officer in the watch office, company night watch on weekends, and Leamy Hall Duty Officer. 2/c also stand watch as Cadet in Charge for morning and evening colors. There are eight designated company Guidons, who carry the Company Guidon at formation and ensure the proper indoctrination of each company’s 4/c. Working for them are three masters-at-arms (MAAs), who act as assistants to the Guidons and who are also responsible for 4/c development. Guidons and MAAs are not part of divisions but are accountable to department heads and their respective Company Commanders. There are also two Regimental Executive Assistants, one for the Regimental Commander and the other for the Regimental Chief of Staff.

 

1/c are the highest ranking cadets in the corps. They range from having one stripe to the lone six stripes at the top, the Regimental Commander. One and two stripers stand duty as Company Officers of the Day, meaning they take accountability for their respective company. The Regimental Commander oversees the whole of the corps and acts as the corps’ representative at official functions.

 

Under the Regimental Commander is the Regimental Chief of Staff, who is responsible for the planning and oversight of the Regimental Staff Officer who has five stripes and works with the Regimental Executive Officer who oversees the eight company commanders. The Regimental Executive officer also has five stripes.

 

Each of the eight companies is headed by a four striper Company Commander, who writes standing orders for company watch standing and works with their company officer, a Lieutenant or Lieutenant Commander, who coaches cadets in their development. A three striped Company Executive Officer assists the Company Commander with running the companies.

 

Two striped department heads lead up their department. There are 24 departments in the regiment, for a total of three in each company. Each company is responsible for different things, e.g. Hotel is responsible for morale and community service and Delta is responsible for drill and ceremonies. There are approximately six divisions in each department, headed up by a 1/c cadet with one stripe.

 

The division is the fundamental unit of the Corps of Cadets. Division officers ensure that the work gets done by their subordinates and also stand watch along with department heads as Company Officer of the Day, ensuring each company’s order is maintained.

 

So, that’s how it’s all organized.

 

More about Will.