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Former Cadet Blogger – A Return on Investment

(Life as a Junior Officer) Permanent link
Wowtschuk Photo Howdy, shipmates! The relationship I have with my editor can be compared with some of the great duos throughout history. She has been the grill to my Foreman, the Nike to my Lemieux, the steroids to my Armstrong, and now, by pressuring me out of retirement for one last “Blog of the Century,” she has become the Pacquiao to my Mayweather. And, like “Money,” I hope to, once again, become TBBE (The Best Blogger Ever) through solid fundamentals, impeccable style, and timely hugs.

 

Let me start by bringing everyone up to speed on what I have accomplished so far as a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard (this will be brief). In a nutshell, I moved to the PNW, went to the Arctic Ocean three consecutive summers, moved to Texas, grew a beard, and am currently maximizing the U.S. Government’s return on investment in my education. In the hopes of imparting some valuable insights about life after the Coast Guard University, I am going to share my experience during each of these chapters of my life.

 

I begin my journey in the PNW, or Pacific Northwest for all you out-of-touch, non-organic eating, macro-beer drinking, mainstream entertainment enjoying, melanin sufficient southeasterners. Moving to Seattle? The first thing I recommend doing is reject the corporate mainstream fashion value of the lames, and start cultivating your own individual style. This involves wearing a working class hat, having thick rimmed glasses (bonus if you actually need them to see), growing facial hair popular in the 19th century, sporting a t-shirt with some sort of anti-establishment message, and rocking multi-colored socks. As a general rule of thumb, wear clothing only popular prior to 1992, because you don’t want to stand out. Once you have learned to march to the beat of your own drum, and fully embraced hipster “counter culture,” you can begin to appreciate all the PNW has to offer.

 

The Arctic Ocean is an incredibly fragile ecosystem, virtually untouched by civilization, and contains some of the most endangered animals known to man. Fortunately, the polar bear does not fall into this last category. Polar bears are some of the most incredible animals alive but they are not endangered (seriously, look it up). They were so common, that when sighted I would invariably think “oh cool, ANOTHER polar bear...let me know when it turns into a narwhal”.

 

Texas is the opposite of Seattle in just about every way imaginable. Upon entering the state, I was issued a hand gun, a Texas state flag, and a copy of George Strait’s Greatest Hits. I did not realize people actually wore cowboy outfits as a serious fashion decision. As a native New Yorker, it has been a slow, and at times, painful adjustment to the Texas culture. If you remember nothing else, remember to shape your cowboy hat. It will save you an embarrassing night at the local dance club.

 

Finally, as a Coast Guard representative at a top engineering research institution, I hold myself to the highest of standards. I understand my role as a graduate student, and embrace the notion that my job is to work hard and learn as much as possible. The Coast Guard is investing in me and I must return the investment in full. This involves avoiding the many distractions present at a major university, or pitfalls as I like to call them. Here are a list of pitfalls that I am regularly challenged with: waking up whenever I want, discounted menu options until 11 p.m. at local dining establishments, SEC Division I college football games, interacting with young women who are more interested in the social aspects of college than the educational ones, traveling, and, of course, the most dangerous pitfall of all, not adhering to the Coast Guard uniform and grooming standards.

 

I think this “Blog of the Century,” lived up to its hype, much like the “Fight of the Century,” did. I will leave you with these wise words from the greatest boxer of our generation, Floyd “Money” Mayweather: "I am the best. There is nobody better than me.”

 

Fun Fact: I am allergic to apples.

 

More about Bo.

 

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.