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Five Flights Later…

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Time flies when you’re having fun, and in my case, there actually was flying involved! My classmates and I just finished first phase of our last year of summer training, during which I was at Air Station Clearwater, Florida. First class summer is special because out of the four, you get the most influence in crafting a summer schedule that is pertinent to your career goals and interests. For me, that means I had the air station assignment, as I am putting in for flight school in the fall, and am now in New Hampshire for an academic internship with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. You’ll hear more about the latter as I get further into the assignment; but for now, let me tell you all about playing on helicopters for five weeks! (I mean, calmly observing from a safe distance. They knew better than to let me get too close to expensive equipment.) I got to ride along on two C-130 flights and three H-60 flights, and got qualified to stand the Operations Duty Officer (ODO) watch. The helicopters were a blast; nothing beats flying with the door open and seeing the world beneath you. But then again, getting time actually flying the C-130 was incredible… there are definitely positives to both fixed-wing and rotary! The ODO watch involved me receiving calls for search and rescue cases from the sector and district, and helping manage the general operational picture for the daily activity of the air station. It’s a great way to actually help out the air station and give the pilots a small break from their busy schedules.


So both the flying and the watches were good experiences; but, the highlight for me was definitely meeting all the wonderful people at the air station. The aviation community is full of people who truly care about each other, and who love being pilots for the Coast Guard. I learned so much from hearing about each of their experiences and unique backgrounds, and found some individuals whose values and career paths aligned precisely with my own. Some showed me what it means to be a skilled and highly proficient pilot; some demonstrated to me what it means to take care of others and watch out for their well-being; some displayed the positive attitude and sense of humor necessary to make it through challenging assignments; still others helped me understand what goes into an aviation career from start to finish, including families and graduate school. It was such an invaluable experience; definitely one of the best I have had since reporting in. I’m all the more grateful to have spent time with the Clearwater crew, because amazingly, this fall will mark the start of my journey into the aviation community when I start preparing my flight school application! And let me tell you, spending five weeks at air station Clearwater has given me so much motivation to try my hardest and get into Coast Guard aviation. Praise God for first phase; stay tuned to hear about second phase in a few weeks!


More about Abby.


Swab Summer: Ultimately About Teamwork

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo To the Class of 2020,


I am already so proud of your accomplishments and perseverance to receive an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy, especially my cadet candidates from last summer. This summer, you are going to embark on the most challenging and rewarding journey of your life to date. Let me assure you, it will be worth it. Swab Summer is meant to test your emotional, physical and mental strength. You won’t be great at everything, and there are some things you may find easy. Make sure to share your strengths with your shipmates and allow your shipmates to share their strengths with you. Swab Summer is ultimately about teamwork; you don’t have to do it alone and you shouldn’t. If you haven’t been practicing push-ups, sit-ups and running, please start now. It will only make the transition to Swab Summer easier. Also, if you are not from a hot and humid climate, be prepared for the Connecticut summers because they can be blistering on some days. Take each day a meal at a time and realize that it is only seven weeks of the four years of training. Just try your best and help your shipmates when you can. Most importantly, there will be at least one person that struggles a lot during these seven weeks. Help that person who is struggling because you are only as strong as the weakest link in your company. Have fun! You are going to meet your best friends in life and make some good memories. Good luck 2020!!!


More about Sydney.


USCGC Liberty WPB-1334

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo 1/c summer has already begun. Change of Watch marked the beginning of the cadet summer training period, and my classmates and I were frocked as 1/c cadets before graduation. This was a huge milestone for me and for our class. It’s crazy to think that we’re college seniors and 75% of the Academy experience is now in our rearview mirror. It has flown by but at the same time it feels like it’s been a lifetime.


I quickly packed out my room and moved all of my stuff down to Regimental Row, where summer staffers and company commanders will be living. It was a monumental task—so much trash was thrown away by the Corps of Cadets that an extra dumpster was rented for the week of pack out!


After an 18-hour flight to Juneau, Alaska, I reported aboard USCGC Liberty, a 110-foot patrol boat. The crew has been very welcoming, and I am doing my best to learn everything I can from the ship’s Executive Officer, a CGA 2013 graduate. This week has flown by! From my observations over the past week, it is evident that the crew is tight-knit, the unit has a healthy operational tempo, and the crew is willing and able to help newly reported-aboard personnel. I have begun breaking in as in-port Officer of the Deck and Quartermaster of the Watch, and the crew has helped me qualify for these watches. I believe that at the current pace and so long as I keep up my work ethic, these qualifications are realistic and attainable. I honestly had no idea what to expect—good crew, bad crew, good leadership, or poor leadership. But, the crew is great, and the command cadre has been willing to help me understand what I need to in order to get ready for ensign life. I hope to learn much from the Executive Officer’s dealings with personnel, technical knowledge on piloting and navigation, and his ability to keep morale high while also balancing mission effectiveness.


The motif of this week has really come back to the core tenants of the Commanding Officer’s command philosophy—family, mission, and ethos. If I could sum up the advice given to me by the Commanding Officer, it would probably be mission first, people always. Even though it is our duty to carry out the mission aboard the cutter, taking time for personal development and family is equally important. Keeping this in mind, morale and mission do not necessarily need to compete for time and attention. There is no reason why the mission can’t be fun.


As for the plethora of junior officer advice given to me over the past week, some things stand out. There is a divide between having no backbone and arrogance. It is important to keep a good workspace, maintain professionalism, and set the example, but also to show your human side, especially on a smaller platform with a tighter-knit crew. For me, the biggest takeaway so far has been when I know an answer, be confident, and project it. When I have no idea, or I have less than 75% certain, it is ok as a junior officer to just say, “I don’t know, can you show me?” It seems this is the key to success for maintaining the balance between arrogance and spinelessness. The Commanding Officer, or the senior most officer of the ship, is a familiar face. During my 3/c summer, he was the operations officer aboard the medium endurance cutter I was on. One thing that I observed two summers ago and what I am observing now is that the CO on this cutter is, above all, decisive. He is able to make decisions on the fly and sometimes with insufficient information, but he sticks to his decisions and is confident in his directives. This too, I am quickly finding out, is why our country pays Coast Guard officers.


During the past week on the cutter, I initially had feelings of regret or that I had made a mistake by not doing 11 weeks attached to this boat. However, despite the valuable experience at this unit, I am not directly responsible for any personnel. I’m glad that I opted to spend the second half of my summer on Regimental Staff because although I may have less underway time, those experiences and problem solving opportunities will also prepare me for junior officer life.


In other news, next month, I’m running another half marathon and taking a road trip with my dad over leave. I’m running another race in July with ENS Engelhardt, so that should be fun, too. I can’t wait for Swab Summer to kick off!


More about William.


Class of 2020: Focus on the Future

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo I changed my phone background recently. It’s now some lovely tropical flowers gracing my screen. Really, the last one I had was fine… but with finals coming up and a heavy influx of division work within Chase Hall, I needed a consistent reminder that in about one week, I am heading to Florida for my first assignment at a Coast Guard air station! Trust me, I’m ready for it. Five weeks of immersion in Coast Guard aviation, hanging out at the beach, great food, and running past palm trees will be rough, but I think the challenges of this school have prepared me well.


I truly was pretty overwhelmed this last week, what with giving two presentations for the Science Department and lots of last-minute work for my division, but it truly did help to have something to look forward to. The annoyance and frustration is temporary; the experience is forever! I hope the incoming swabs will remember that as they go through the summer. The initial shock is pretty rough, and the days are very long…but believe it or not, the weeks are short. You just have to remember that there are better days ahead and a million adventures awaiting you. Before I reported in, I did some math. Did you ever realize that seven weeks, out of 200 for our training program, is only about 3.5% of your Academy career? That means 95.5% is made up of meeting new people, travelling, getting into a great major, assuming some leadership positions, flying, sailing, going on internships, joining clubs, attending religious activities… not the rigorous, loud days of the summer. Focus on the future, on the great things in store for you if you endure Swab Summer, and you’ll be fine. Even if you have some doubts at the beginning, 2020… I think you’ll grow to like those odds.


More about Abby.


Class of 2017 Ring Dance

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo Ring Dance is a very momentous milestone in a cadet career. We finally have a physical connection to the Long Blue Line and to all those who have walked through the halls of Chase and across that graduation stage. The night was full of good food and lots of dancing, which made me very happy. I got a miniature rose gold band with an amethyst for my stone. Amethyst is my birthstone so it makes the ring that much more personal. The Class of 2017 cannot stop gawking at one another’s rings and I think it is just because we are in total shock that we have made it so far in our Academy careers already. Time has surely flown. My friend was also kind enough to remind me that the next huge landmark in our path is Billet Night. That was crazy to think about, and I cannot tell you for sure where I plan on spend the first two years of my career but hopefully this last summer as a cadet will inspire me to come up with an answer.


This summer, I will be on commercial vessels for five weeks, getting a look into the merchant mariner world and the people we serve. For the last six weeks of my training, I will be going to Sitka, Alaska for an internship. I am aware of how challenging internships are to get, in both civilian college and here, so I am super grateful that the Academy has given me this opportunity. Being able to use the science knowledge I have learned over the past two years in a real life study at the Sitka Sound Science Center will be amazing.


As always thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!


More about Sydney.