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cadet blogs

Dear Class of 2021 Parent

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Farlow Photo June 26, 2017 will now always mark a special place in your heart. Maybe not quite like a birthday or anniversary, but when you see it on the calendar it will make you smile, at least for a second. It was the day your child made the biggest commitment thus far in their lives, and whether you realize it now or later, you made a commitment too, and you became part of the Coast Guard family. Swab Summer is tough, but your child will make it through and then fourth class year will be full of ups and downs, learning experiences, and most importantly lifelong bonds and memories. Before you know it, your swab turned third class cadet will be sitting here writing a letter to the class of 2022 parents, wondering where their first year of college went and how their second summer is almost complete. Between now and then, there will be good days and bad days, days they are sure they will make it and days they are unsure how they made it this far. When I look back on my fourth class year, I struggle to remember the negative events, and although it may not seem like it, in a year your 3/c cadet will do the same. They will think back to Day One, killing a calculus test, a weekend full of adventures with friends in NYC, coming home for the first time, their first practice or game as a collegiate athlete, passing boards, and earning carry-on and everything else will fade away.


Fourth class year is hectic, even on a slow day. Bear (no pun intended) with your cadet as they figure out their schedule and when they have time to talk and when they can’t. If they say they need to write a paper, or they need to prep a uniform, they have a three hour practice, they need to wax their floor, or attend CAAP, I promise those are all things that need to be done, sometimes all in one day after attending a full day of classes. Just tell them to breathe and that when all those things are complete you will still be around. If they mention trying a new sport or joining a club, encourage them, even if you don’t know anything about it, because distractions from Academy life are key to survival. Also, encourage them to take adventures on long weekends; it will give them something to look forward to. Tell them to go to NYC or Boston, if nothing else it is worth it to be able to wear civilian clothes and feel like a person instead of a cadet, even if it is just for three days.


Finally, as a cadet there is only so much I can say about being the parent of a cadet, so my own parents would tell you that the Academy experience in general, and fourth class year in particular, is your child’s experience. Your son or daughter, prior to Day One, probably did not fail at much, so it will be difficult to listen to their struggles—and they will struggle, get knocked down, fail, be challenged and pushed—perhaps to points they did not know they had. Despite the temptation, allow them to tackle this challenge on their own terms. Support them on this journey, but always know that you cannot take the journey for them. Remind them to laugh—to never lose their sense of humor. Above all, be proud of the fact that your son or daughter has answered the call to service; raised their right hand and taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Welcome to your new family—the parents of USCGA cadets.


Go Bears!

Francesca Farlow


More about Francesca.


Swimming in the Bermuda Triangle

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Wheeler Photo Never in my life did I think that I would swim in the Bermuda Triangle! The command of USCGC Eagle, on its voyage to Bermuda, decided to take a break from sailing the crystal clear Atlantic waters one hot afternoon to let the crew go for a dive. We set up a rope swing and jumped off the waist of the ship, not unlike Tarzan, into the bluest waters I've seen in my life. None of us knew how deep it was or what sea creatures lay bellow, but we plunged in anyway. Taking a break from the normal hustle and bustle aboard America's Tall Ship was much needed and many cadets, officers, and enlisted crew alike were relieved by the cool ocean. The swells and waves made the swim even more exciting with up to a hundred of us in the water at once. The fun was cut short by a surprise visit from a couple of Portuguese man o’ war (venomous things that look like bubbles and float on the surface), which was immediately followed by a mass scramble to the rope ladders on the side of the ship. All in all, the swim call was definitely a highlight of the trip and being able to say that we swam in the Bermuda Triangle is incredibly unique, not to mention a lifelong memory.


More about Pat.


First Phase: Eagle

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo The first phase of my 1/c summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I am sitting in the airport preparing to head out to Sector San Francisco after spending the first five weeks on USCGC Eagle. Eagle was a phenomenal experience. It is my third time being on board and honestly it keeps getting better every time I return. I chose to go for the engineering qualifications, as opposed to deck watch, and got qualified as an oiler and then an Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOW). This meant that I went on rounds of all the spaces throughout the ship to check on the various systems, did rounds in the engine room, and learned how to do all the collaterals for each. I also learned how to parallel generators, flush a reverse osmosis system, cross-connect different systems, and so much more. The crew on board are experts in their specialties and were so willing to teach cadets and help us learn more about actual applicable engineering skills.


Getting to stand watches for the crew made me feel like a valuable member on board, and while I am excited to see what this next phase brings I will miss being underway and being in an engine room. I am hoping to get to see some of the cutters out of San Francisco and nearby locations. Northern California is full of Coasties which means reuniting with classmates and alumni that recently graduated. I am also looking forward to spending time with my grandparents who live nearby. Overall, firstie summer has been eye-opening and makes me realize how thrilled I am to hopefully become a student engineer next year as an ensign.


More about Hannah.


Japanese Coast Guard: A Great Friend

 Permanent link
Chang Photo(15 May 2017) Today is our fourth day underway on the Japan Coast Guard training ship Kojima and, I have to say, it’s been a wild ride. Seriously though, there’s a tropical storm to the west of us so the waves have been monstrous. A good number of us, including myself, have been subject to a bit of seasickness but that doesn’t stop anyone from doing their job. It will be a few more days (hopefully) until the waves die down and we can finally get our sea-legs.


As for daily life, well, it’s pretty awesome. Us USCGA cadets don’t have any collateral duties, so we merely just observe and shadow their watches. Kojima has three watch sections; navigation, engineering and communications. So far, navigation watch had been my favorite. Even with the extreme pitch and roll of the ship, being up on deck was an incredible experience. There are more similarities than I thought; with everything from equipment to charting techniques. A cool thing they do with the watches is that they give them nicknames corresponding to a goal for the watch. For example, our watch today was called “help each other.” It turned out to be really fitting; we helped them with their English and they helped us with Japanese. A pretty good exchange; I can almost hold a conversation.


The language barrier definitely makes things interesting. I practiced some Japanese before coming on-board and I have a bit of an easier time with reading, (Chinese and Japanese share a lot of the same written words) but I’m trying to learn some more while I’m here. There’s also a lot of improvised sign language, which is pretty entertaining. We’re going to be really good at charades after this.


(23 May 2017) Well, we arrive in Costa Rica tomorrow! The closer we get to the port of Puntarenas, the muggier and hotter the air is outside. But the two weeks we’ve spent underway have definitely been worth it. For one thing, the food is extremely good. There’s a lot of miso soup and rice, and the mess deck has a very friendly atmosphere. I think one of the things that makes it unique is that everyone does their own dishes. It’s great because it takes a huge workload off the cooks and non-rates, and, I mean, we’re all adults and it takes just a minute to wash a plate and a bowl, so why not?


(03 June 2017) Our time here is almost up; just a few more days until we reach Baltimore. It’s bittersweet to think about it, so I’m going to focus on all the cool stuff we’ve been able to do so far. First off, Costa Rica was amazing. We toured a Costa Rican Coast Guard base, attended a Japanese-Costa Rican reception on-board Kojima, and picked up a couple of Costa Rican officers for the ride to the Baltimore. Learning about the Costa Rican Coast Guard and the work we have done with them was an eye-opening experience. They are a small country with a Coast Guard that’s only 17 years old, and they deal with an immense amount of drug traffic within Latin America. And, despite being a growing service, they’re good at what they do. The Costa Rican officers that are on-board with us are a couple of the nicest people I have ever met and, although they’re junior officers, I reckon they have as much experience as a salty chief.


(08 June 2017) Well, we said ‘sayonara’ and are at the airport, waiting for our flight back to the Academy. The goodbye was bittersweet, but now we have our next meeting to look forward to. Next stop is a 270’ out of Portsmouth!


More about Olivia.


Marine Safety Training

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo During 2/c summer, cadets participate in a variety of programs to aid in our professional development. As part of this, cadets are scheduled for aviation training but have the option to trade it out for marine safety program at Coast Guard sectors across the country or naval engineering at the Coast Guard Yard. I worked with the command at my station last summer and was able to go to an air station for a day and shadow the pilots there. While I had a great time, I know that I don’t want to be pilot so I opted to do the Marine Safety Training Program this summer in lieu of the aviation training.


A classmate and I were sent to Sector Maryland - National Capital Region to work in their prevention office. We were able to observe domestic inspections, which are conducted on all qualifying U.S. flagged vessels. We were also able to participate in a multi-agency strike force operation (MASFO) for the Port of Baltimore. Working with counterparts from other agencies including Customs and Border Protection, the harbor police, Department of Transportation investigators, and multiple others, we searched containers departing and entering the United States on cargo vessels to fight against drug smuggling, human trafficking, and assure the containers were stable for sea to facilitate a safe transit. Later that week, we were able to observe a port state inspection, which is an inspection conducted on foreign vessels entering the U.S. We inspected a coal tanker after it completed its first ever transit.


The best part the experience was the crew from the prevention department. Everyone we worked with was welcoming, passionate about prevention, and willing to teach us about their work. We had a great time working with them and learning about possible career tracks in the Coast Guard.


If you have any questions, feel free to email me at


More about Jill.


Becoming a Junior Officer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Holland Photo Hey everyone,


It's been a long time since I posted one of these, but I had the time to do so today. As a firstie in the fleet, you get treated a lot like a junior officer, which is critical to your development at the Academy because once this next school year is up, you're an ensign. (That's a scary thought.) I'm currently aboard USCGC Forward on patrol, and it is incredible. The summers are when you realize that everything you work toward at the Academy is worth it, and is very real and close. I'm not 100% sure what I want to do when I graduate, but there are no bad billets in the Coast Guard. (No other service can say that.)


For those of you considering joining the Coast Guard, I think that the Coast Guard can best be equated to a family. We are a small service and because of that you gain a reputation among your peers very quickly. In other services, it is easy to get lost in the crowd; however, in the Coast Guard you will know someone at nearly every single unit. It's definitely an incentive to stay on top of your stuff and to always treat others how you would like to be treated. The next part of this summer, I will be the Battalion AIM Officer. I'll be in charge of the Coast Guard's program that educates high school seniors as to what it is we do here at the Academy. I'm very excited to get the opportunity to assist the Class of 2019 in the training and mentoring of future members of the class of 2022. My little sister also reports to the Academy this summer, which will be a lot of fun (for me). I'll update later but, until then, everyone be safe and make good decisions.


More about Taylor.


National Memorial Day Concert

(Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo This past weekend, I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the National Memorial Day Concert featuring Laurence Fishburne, Joe Mantegna, Colin Powell, and Scotty McCreery, among other superstars. The concert was featured on PBS on Sunday evening. The concert went by fast, but the real work was done on the day before, which was called “Media Day.” Before I knew it, I was posting live videos on the Coast Guard Official Facebook page, interviewing stars, and recording videos. I even met the Commandant, Admiral Zukunft.


Initially, the CGA Blog Club needed someone to go down to Washington D.C. to represent the Coast Guard, but then Coast Guard Headquarters heard a recent graduate was going, so they decided to give me authority to manage the Facebook page, which was trial by fire. I met all of the stars, including the voice behind the recent Disney movie Moana. I also witnessed the show’s run throughs, stage checks, and met with all of the folks who work behind the scenes. The viewers on Sunday night only saw the tip of the iceberg – there was so much work put into the concert by stagehands, lighting crews, makeup artists, cameramen, and so many others. I learned about what goes into the show and the stories behind each of the people who made it happen. Each one of these people had their own connection to the holiday, and in some way felt like this was their way of giving back to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.


Everyone has some connection to a family member, loved one, or friend in the military. The concert itself was emotional, featuring disabled veterans who have come a long way from their injuries, which hopefully helped Americans everywhere realize that Memorial Day is not about BBQs, sales, and having a day off.


One veteran from the recent War on Terror was severely injured in Iraq, and he joined in singing America, the Beautiful. It was an emotional moment, but it helped me, and hopefully everyone else in the audience, remember the true meaning of the holiday.


More about William.