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…
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