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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.

 

Things Learned Onboard the Thetis

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Ahoy!

 

I am writing to you now halfway through my summer. I am still underway on the Thetis and we have been pretty busy as of late. Patrol is a pretty exciting part of a cutter’s operations and the crew does a lot of preparation to get underway. A cutter uses its patrols to train newly reported crew, to carry out the actual operations of the vessel and to keep the boat working smoothly because, like a car, a cutter needs to be run in order to stay operable.

 

So, I am still breaking in OOD, or Officer of the Deck (thus standing double watches), which means that I spend eight hours a day on the bridge, conning the vessel for the watch as well as overseeing the general safety and operations on the bridge.

 

I have learned a lot in the past weeks since I have last blogged.

  • Making pipes (announcements over the intercom) is an art. In the time that I have been on the boat, about 7 percent of the pipes I have made have been comically incorrect. The crew now jokes with me constantly about my sub-par pipes. The worst was my reveille pipe. I tried to make the wake-up call when the outside speakers to the ship weren't on. I attempted to make the announcement again and again and didn't realize that the rest of the ship was hearing me repeat the wake-up call over and over. Everyone thought I did it on purpose!
  • Be careful not to fall out of your rack (bed) when you are extremely tired. Once, after a very long night on the bridge, I went to bed and woke up thinking I was still on the bridge. I proceeded to jump off of my top rack, which was approximately six feet from the deck and had a nice sized bruise for the next week.
  • You never get tired of the sunsets. They are stunning and different every night. The colors are breathtaking and the clouds take on a dramatic part of the sky.
  • Like the sunsets, I am in awe of the stars. They are so beautiful. Being out on the ocean with an open sky is incredible and cannot be recreated on land.
  • I now know how to route memos on the ship and update manuals.
  • People love morale. Even when it is at my own expense, I like the thought of making people laugh and smile.
  • It’s all about the people. As an officer, the best thing you can do is to make your people happy. You do this by making sure they know that they are valued, respected, and trusted to do their jobs. There is a chief on the boat who lives by this concept; he says that “your people should do their job because they want to, not because they are scared of what will happen if they don’t.”

 

Okay, so there will be more to come. I can’t believe that we are already halfway through the summer and our new officers are coming. It will be fun to see friends from school!

 

I have been experimenting with finding ways to work out on board and my lacrosse coach helped me out in that respect. I am also trying to develop my officer’s presence; it is weird to think that my time at the Academy is limited and that the fleet is that much closer.

 

More about Lucy.

 

Land of Opportunity

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo “I’m sailing away, to a land of opportunity…” are the lyrics I sometime hear when aboard the USCGC Eagle for our five weeks of summer training. Other times, I can barely distinguish the howling winds of the sea from the blood rushing in my ears after standing a midnight watch. I don’t even know how to begin describing Eagle. Most of us lovingly call it the “Dirty Bird.” This is because it can get pretty gross when you have nine hardworking people living in a small room with a broken A/C unit. However, this is all irrelevant compared to the things you get to do on this boat.

 

Climbing up to the very tops of the masts and being able to see the Milky Way, waking up for morning duty and watching the sunrise, finding you are totally focused on what you have to do and learning about yourself in little increments to the point where you almost lose perception of time makes it all worthwhile. Eagle has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes while on board but I think I’m a better person because of it. We have one more week to go until phase change in Staten Island, New York, and nine more days until I ship off to the USCGC Mellon!

 

More about Olivia.

 

Awesome Summer Adventures

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Coburn Photo I cannot believe that it has been almost one year since I arrived at the Academy for R-Day last June. The time has really flown by and I am learning so much about the Coast Guard each and every day. Right now, I am on South Padre Island, Texas at a small boat station with another cadet. So far, this experience has been awesome. At first I was a little nervous but the crew has been very welcoming. They are always helping us and teaching us new seamanship skills. South Padre is one of the busiest stations in the country; not only have we been able to see how the Coast Guard works during real search and rescue missions, but we have actually been able to participate and it is incredible.

 

The weather down here is amazing. It has not dropped below 80 since we arrived and the beaches are great. We are allowed to go out and explore the island and, since it is so small, almost everything is within walking distance. We are at the station for two more weeks and then we will be flying back to New London to board Eagle. On Eagle, we will be travelling down to Philadelphia for the Tall Boat Show, which will be really cool, and then we will be cruising down to Bermuda (I am really excited for that part). It is going to be a lot of work but most of my friends are going to be on the same phase so I will be able to see them all again! Toward the end of July, we will end the voyage in Boston and then I will go home for three weeks of leave. On August 16th, I will report back to the Academy for my 3rd class year. I cannot wait to be part of Charlie Company and meet the new 4th class. To all of you soon-to-be-swabs out there: good luck this summer, have fun and try not to worry too much. Y’all will do great!

 

More about Mimi.

 

Life in Texas

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Auzenbergs Photo Life in Texas We are already three weeks into summer training and I cannot believe how much we have learned! I’m at Station Port Aransas in Texas with three other now-3/c cadets and we’re working on earning our Communications Watchstander qualification. Earning that would allow us to answer the radios and phones for distress calls or general calls from anyone that may need assistance and stand watch for the station. Though it may seem straightforward, there is a lot that goes into this job such as knowing the proper way to respond to a search and rescue mission, bomb threat, overdue vessel, or just how and when to check on any of the vessels that may be underway. To me, the biggest part that went into preparing for this qualification was learning the AOR or area of responsibility. The station has a large map that spans their entire AOR and each member who is comms qualified must be familiar with all the bays, channels, fueling stations, islands, peninsulas and more. It’s pretty difficult when you are brand new to the area like us, but I realized how important it is when I got a call from a woman trying to explain where she was stuck based off her surroundings because, without that knowledge, I would not have been able to help her!

 

Beside what we do at the station, we are able to get off work and go into town, which is a blast. We go to the beach, out to dinner, ride our bikes around town, shop, and explore the nature trails. This afternoon we are getting ready to go parasailing! It has been a great experience so far and I’m going to be sad when these last two weeks are over… but then it’s on to Eagle for six more.

 

More about Gabrielle.