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cadet blogs

My Not-So-Relaxing-But-Crazy-Awesome Summer Leave…And We’re BACK!

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Writing to you once again from USCGA, but this time the whole corps is back, one day and a half into our academic year. Having the corps of cadets back was a very welcoming experience compared to last year. This year, coming back meant being reunited with good friends and familiar faces, everyone smiling and saying hi, as if I was a new person, transformed from the untouchable 4/c I was last year. It was awesome!


I am enjoying my classes so far, although my schedule is very full of larger-credit courses compared to last year. I am now a Marine and Environmental Science major and I am taking the classes Marine Biology and Meteorology this semester. I am excited to take the new MES boats out for biology labs and to learn more about the organisms with which we share the seas. I am very excited about my major and about all of the things I am about to experience.


Speaking of experiences, over leave, my family took a two week trip to the northwest United States. We spent a few days in Washington, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and the Teton Mountains. I didn’t expect to see much of the Coast Guard when I left the Academy, but as we explored the coastline of Washington State on a whale watching tour, I found that we were everywhere. My dad excitedly told many people about my Coast Guard connection as a cadet, and the captain of the boat we were on asked for me to take the helm as we brought her back into the marina. It was pretty embarrassing as I was photographed by the majority of the people on board for the tour, but it was fun and something I’ll never forget.


Although academics are going to be keeping me busy, I am looking forward to this year!


A Bustling Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Gurtler Photo Another summer here and gone, leaving me to wonder how it ended so soon. However, the more I reflect on the past three months, I realize it’s not a question of how the summer flew by so fast, but rather a question of how it was humanly possible to fit in as much as my classmates and I did in three months.


My summer began with three weeks of leave in Wisconsin, where I visited with friends and family and celebrated my younger brother’s high school graduation. When I returned back to the Academy, I found myself immediately swept up into a busy week-by-week schedule. My initial week back was spent at the shooting range, qualifying with a Sig Sauer pistol. The following week consisted of classes focused on the ‘Rules of the Road.’ Fortunately, I passed the test that culminated all of the ROTR information we had learned throughout the week so I did not have to worry about retaking it during CAP Week. My third week back was a week dedicated to preparing to be a cadre. 2015 participated in a mock R-Day, as well as numerous trainings on how to handle certain situations as a cadre. This was all in preparation of what was to come the following week…


My three weeks as cadre were the three most exhausting but rewarding weeks of my life. As a cadre, I worked to be stern but fair. I learned early on that if I did not hold them accountable for their actions, little would be learned by them and by me. At the same time, I strived to be a mentor – someone that they could come to not just during the summer training period but during the academic school year as well. Granted, I did yell a time or two, and I may have forced Hotel Company to do a little intensive physical training, but I did this out of respect for my swabs. I wanted nothing but for them to succeed. When Hotel swabs received their shoulder boards I wanted them to know they had earned them. Additionally, my brother was a swab in Bravo Company this past summer. Words cannot describe how proud I am of him, and it only furthers my bond with 2017.


My summer concluded with one week spent at Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina, one week working on T-Boats, and two weeks aboard a 44-foot sailing vessel that stopped at a number of different ports including Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Newport, Rhode Island.


See what I mean when I say I was busy?! Bottom line is that I experienced so much this summer with my class. I am thankful for my fellow cadre and for my swabs for allowing me to learn from my highs and lows and teaching me so much about leadership, followership, and myself along the way. This summer has left me contemplating the possibility of applying for next summer’s command staff. I would love to be a part of 2018’s R-Day experience…


More about Victoria.


Application Advice

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo During my summer tour on Eagle, I had the opportunity to lead a tour of prospective applicants around as part of a recruiting mission. At the end of the tour, one of the parents asked me, “So what exactly do they look for on the applications? What should my son be doing to get ready to apply?” These are great questions. The application process is very long and comprehensive, and I believe there are four general parts to an application: the measurable aspects, the character, multitasking ability, and the intangible qualities of an applicant.


The measurable part of the process is easy to explain. First, GPA is a baseline measurement for an applicant. If you have a good GPA, you are more likely to get in. If you are applying now and need to raise your GPA a few points, try your best this year and send the Academy your report cards/progress reports. This shows that you can bring your grades up and you aren’t slacking during senior year. Also, it shows hard work and a determination to succeed.


The second measurable quality of an applicant is test scores (SAT/ACT). According to the USCGA website, “successful candidates usually scored an 1100 combined Critical Reading (Verbal) and Math on the SAT, or have an ACT Composite of at least 24”. If you find yourself slightly above or below these baseline scores, I recommend retaking the SAT or ACT. You may submit your highest scores on each section, and retaking the test usually results in higher scores. Having higher than average test scores will serve you well when applying.


The final measurable quality is the Physical Fitness Examination (PFE) score. I recommend seriously preparing for the PFE. It is the same test you take at least nine times at the Academy. In addition, the PFE carries weight in the application process. If you put the time in to prepare and do well, it will help you.


Your character plays a pivotal role in acceptance. The Academy is looking for future officers of the Coast Guard, and they want officers with good character. So how do you demonstrate your character? First, carefully consider who is writing your recommendations. The people that know you the best will be able to speak to your character, and show the Academy that you can be the type of officer they are looking for.


The most important tools you have to convey your character are your essays. The essays are challenging. They are very broad, open-ended topics, with very few words to convey what you want to say. Start writing your essays early, and make them unique to your experiences. Write multiple drafts, and have people review them. A great essay can make a huge difference. It shows that you have the ability to convey complex ideas in concise statements. If you can use your recommendations and essays to effectively show that you belong in the Coast Guard as an officer, you have a great advantage.


Another important quality to show on an application is time management ability. The easiest way to show what you’ve done is to create a resume that includes all of your work experience, volunteer service, and club/activity involvement. In the Coast Guard, in the Academy especially, good time management skills are paramount. The academic workload here is overwhelming by itself, but cadets are also tasked militarily and athletically. If you can show that you have the ability to effectively manage your time, you are showing that you can handle the pressure of performing at the Academy.


Finally, the most abstract factor the application process is the intangible qualities of an applicant. The “it” factor, as some people call it, is very important. People with high grades, high fitness, good time management, and even good leadership skills may not have the “it” factor. In my experience, the “it” factor is passion and perseverance. It is impossible to measure those qualities in a person, but through an interview, a phone call, or email correspondence, you can show your passion to be in the Coast Guard.


I do not believe that the Academy is only for smart people. In high school, I was never the smartest person in school. However, I was well rounded on my application. I spent hours working on it, revising my essays, and preparing for the PFE. I put forth my best effort to represent myself to the Academy, and it paid off.


If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Good luck with applications!


More about Hunter.


Round Two

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Wright Photo It’s crazy to be back. Sitting here in my 3/c shoes it’s hard to believe that just a year ago I was the scared freshman running around the halls frantically greeting every upper class I saw with a “Good evening, sir” at 6 a.m. in the morning… nothing I did was right. Or at least it seemed that way. Now, I know a few more things and definitely can enjoy this place a little more. This first week back is full of stuff; lectures, schedules, getting to know your division, and most of all getting back into the hectic Academy routine. Being a 3/c now means that I am the one the freshman come to for everything; I am next in their chain of command so all their silly questions come to me first… it makes me wonder if I was that clueless last year. My assumption is I was. :P


Each company of about 120 cadets is split up into departments and further divisions with four to eight cadets. Each division is in charge of a job for their company and each class has one to two members per division. So, my division has eight cadets, two from each class, and we are in charge of regimental tours (which I have heard is a fair amount of work). This week has focused on getting to know each other, especially me and my 4/c. Since there are two 3/c and two 4/c in my division we have kind of split it up so each 3/c takes responsibility for one of the 4/c. My 4/c is Meagen Witham from Virginia. I worked alongside her a lot this week with various tasks like putting up nametags for the company, getting signatures of everyone in our company, and cleaning for our formal room and wing. One thing I have learned is that she is a very hard worker, and I know this semester will go great.


All together I have to say being a 3/c is definitely a lot better than last year. I’m looking forward to helping the 4/c through this year as much as I can because I know how tough it is to be in their shoes, though I do have to say I’m happy to not be in them anymore. New company, new major, new roommate, new responsibilities, and definitely a new perspective of the Academy will make this year exciting and so much different than last year! I can’t wait to get started.


More about Jessica.


A New Beginning

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Keeley Photo The first person to ma’am me did so coming out of the head and walked quickly by as I was looking for my room after leave. This person had no idea that they christened me as a 3/c and made me stop and think about how I really wasn’t a follower anymore. I now have people who look up to me for no reason other than that I have been here for a year. Many of the 4/c are even older than me. The first night back was impossible to get to sleep because you could hear the 4/c greeting, cleaning, or just running around and knew that it wasn’t you anymore. Being thrown into a position of power, even if it’s just a little bit, is head-spinning for the first time. I had no idea of what kind of 3/c I would be and am still trying to figure out the line between a good leader and a relaxed friend. I want to be stern with the things that I want them to take seriously but also want to dispel a lot of fears and miscommunications or misunderstandings. I’m still figuring it out because it’s only the fourth day back but so far so good. The 4/c are all working so hard and I love that I can tell them to relax in some situations rather than having to tell them to be more serious.


We have our first Formal Room and Wing tomorrow and that means that they will be up late tonight cleaning as they had done during Swab Summer. This is the first FR&W that I do not have to clean like a maniac for. Of course I will still be helping out but taking a back seat is definitely liberating.


Other than taking on the role of a 3/c, coming back has been an amazing time. Seeing everybody that you got to know very well puts you in a great mood. However, I know that things are going to die down again come the first real school week, but I’m definitely going to make the best of this week before it’s over. I am not going to lie, I’m pretty nervous for the first semester of 3/c year because I hear that it can be challenging with hard classes and a heavy workload. Hopefully I can stay ahead of the game but I’m sure I’ll let you know if I’m struggling in the upcoming entries. That’s all for now though. Enjoy the rest of your summer, whoever’s reading this!


- Melissa


More about Melissa.


My Welcome Back

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo “Good morning, Ms. Roesch, ma’am”. Never would I have imagined getting greeted as such would have felt so sweet! Looking back on last year when I was just finishing up Swab Summer, I never would have thought wearing one stripe on my shoulder boards would have come so quickly, but it did! Coming back to the Academy from leave was definitely tough – who isn’t sad to leave summer break to go back to school? Mostly, I was nervous. There were several things weighing heavy on my mind: 1) Would I get homesick again just like I did last year? 2) I hope I have Air Force furniture! 3) How am I going to get my room all packed in and inspection-ready by Friday? and 4) How is it going to feel being a 3/c? Well, here are my answers and they’re all good (woohoo)! I was homesick for about 10 minutes, but it quickly went away once I started joking around with my shipmates. I luckily have Air Force furniture this semester (something only cadets would really get). Amazingly, I got my room packed in super fast and stowed properly so all I have to do is clean for formal room and wing this Friday. And most importantly, it is AWESOME being a 3/c. Honestly, though some people might not believe me when I say this, but I absolutely love being a third class cadet, and now I’m actually super content and happy with Academy life.


Life is light years better than last. The transition from a 4/c to a 3/c is so sweet, though it comes with its responsibilities. All the extra work of having someone else to keep track of is very overwhelming at first, but oh so rewarding. It feels great to actually know some stuff about this place, and being able to help out a new 4/c find their footing is something I truly enjoy. I’m very excited to see what the rest of this semester has in store for me and the class of 2016 as we being to play more important roles here at the Academy as role models.


As always, if you have any questions feel free to send me an email! 


More about Allie.


Outstanding Memories

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Wow! It’s hard to believe that my 3/c summer training has come to a close and I am preparing for my second year at the Academy. Where did the time go?!? In all seriousness, I can say that the experiences I had this summer have made me a both a better person and cadet. After this summer I feel much more confident in the skills I have mastered and my abilities as a future Coast Guard officer.


After leaving Coast Guard Station Annapolis in mid-June, I reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, the Coast Guard’s training vessel. During my six weeks aboard I had the opportunity to travel to some unique and exciting ports of call, including St. Petersburg and Mayport, Florida; Bermuda; St. Pierre, France; Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Boston. The time spent aboard Eagle was just as exciting as the port calls. While aboard I completed my Helm, Lookout, and Sounding and Security qualifications, finished my basic Damage Control personnel qualifications, and started my Oiler and Quartermaster of the Watch qualifications. I also learned a lot of nautical information including the nautical Rules of the Road, which gave me more confidence in my abilities as a Coast Guardsman. I also got to experience countless sail station evolutions, served meals to senior officers, and gave personal tours of Eagle! But by far the best part of being on Eagle was establishing stronger and more meaningful relationships with my classmates in the Great USCGA Class of 2016.


So many of the moments I experienced this summer I will remember and cherish forever. Whether it was getting lost in Bermuda or finding Tommy the Tug-Boat in Halifax, the memories I made were outstanding. And now I can’t be more excited to make some more memories during the upcoming academic year! So here’s to another exciting school year at the Academy! Go Bears and Go Books!


More about James.


3/c Year, Arriving

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Miller Photo Tomorrow at the Academy, the swabs will be starting Sea Trials. In contrast, I’ll be going to the beach and Six Flags with a friend. It’s so weird to think that everything I did last year under the supervision of the 3/c will be done by the class below me. One of the hardest parts for me personally will be being called “ma’am” by 2017, especially since some will most likely be older than me.


But a few good parts:
1. No longer being required to clean Chase Hall for formal room and wing inspections. I’ll probably end up helping, but it will be nice not being forced to clean.
2. No longer having to take out the trash of the upper-class.
3. No longer having to do clocks (for those of you who don’t know, clocks are when 4/c announce that there are ten minutes, seven minutes, six minutes, etc. to go until formation).
4. No more squaring meals.
5. No more eyes in the boat.


While most colleges don’t require their freshman to do any of those, at the Academy all freshmen have to do all that. While none of them are fun to do it when you’re a 4/c, all classes at one point had to do them.


In other news, I will be spending the first two weeks at the Academy restricted, which means I can’t leave campus. This is because I broke one of the Academy rules over the summer. The biggest reason I put this on the blog is to highlight the fact that Academy rules are taken seriously and need to be followed. This is something that a lot of people don’t understand until they get caught breaking one. It is also an example one of the differences that separates the Academy from other colleges.


As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at!



More about Caroline.


My Time on Eagle

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo After an awesome 1st phase of summer, I flew to Bermuda to get on the USCGC Eagle. I was super excited to get on Eagle and do some Coast Guard related work! The first day I got on board, I was put to work. I would act as a side boy, greeting important people that would be arriving on board for a reception. I soon doubted why I was so excited about going on Eagle. I had the next day off, and a few of my friends and I went to the beach. It was a great way to relax before heading out to sea for two weeks. Once underway, I had a lot of catching up to do since I arrived two weeks later than the rest of my classmates.


On Eagle, I earned three qualifications. One was Helm and Lookout: for this I had to learn how to steer the ship and stand as a lookout for the ship as well as all the different lights and day shapes for different ships, the 16 distress signals, and the commands for steering the ship. The next qualification I earned was Sounding and Security: for this I was able to check compartments in the ship for fire and flooding. For this I had to learn about what was in all of the spaces I would be checking, as well as other information about the ship’s engine. And the final qualification I earned was Damage Control, which taught me all about how to fight fires and flooding and how to fix other damage to the ship.


But it wasn’t all hard work on board Eagle. We had a lot of fun too! For Fourth of July, we got to have a swim call, where we jumped off the ship from a rope swing. We also had a barbeque while the Captain’s band played for us. And we went to some really cool places. After Bermuda, we sailed to St. Pierre, France. This is a small French island off the coast of Newfoundland. Here I did a lot of hiking and eating French pastries! We were also there for Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day. We marched in a parade and there was a huge festival going on. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the festival because I was on duty giving tours to visitors. Our next stop was Halifax, Nova Scotia. Here I walked around the city and visited the Public Gardens (which were beautiful). And finally we ended in Boston, where I got off and headed home. In all of these places I had a lot of fun and while underway, I learned a lot about what it would be like to live on a Coast Guard cutter. I have posted some pictures of my trip! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at!


More about Kayla.


My 2/c Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Kearney Photo Hey Zack! What’d you do this summer?”


“Well, friend from back home, let me tell you. I learned how to shoot a pistol, passed a pretty tough boating school test, drove T-boats in large circles, was picked up out of the water by a Dolphin helo, yelled at 18-year-old kids to press the deck harder and oh yeah, sailed for two weeks on a million dollar sailboat to pretty gnarly New England towns that were filled with the summertime spirit and a whole lot of money.”


Wow, doesn’t that sound awesome? 2/c summer has been quite the experience and the best summer spent while at the Academy. From learning how to sail, to practicing my much-out-of-practice cooking skills, to visiting wonderful ports with a new set of friends, the Coastal Sail Training Program (CSTP) was probably the most fun I’ve had at the Academy. I could write pages upon pages on how magnificent the wealthy New England towns were, or how relaxing some of the sailing days were when the wind was just right and the sun shone the perfect amount. Some of the ports we visited during CSTP were Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island and Newport. Before this trip, I had no idea how to operate a sailboat but by the end, all of us were sailing with ease and confidence, tacking and jibing only when necessary and always seeking a way to make the boat fly faster. If only we could have just spent the entire summer sailing.


However, cadre summer has been a good, intense experience as well. For the last few weeks of the summer, I have been a Swab Summer cadre for Hotel Company. As cadre, I have been put in charge of a division and have had to move out of my own comfort zone. Instead of welcoming the swabs with hugs and open arms, all of us have to act the part of the stereotypical drill sergeant. But as a second phase cadre, I have been able to begin changing the focus of the summer from intense military indoctrination into a stern learning environment to prepare all of the swabs to become successful 4/c cadets. I have learned a lot about myself this summer and my own leadership style. Cadre summer is very tough and we get much less sleep than the swabs, but I think the rewards once the summer comes to a close will be far worth it. One more week until the fall semester!


More about Zachary.


What a Summer!

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Cantrell Photo Second-class summer was a great time spent with classmates, family, and friends. I learned so much about myself and my ability to lead. Although this summer is referred to as “cadre summer,” I would say my most memorable experience was not cadre related.


I started off by spending a week in the classroom learning all about the Rules of the Road. The next two weeks I spent sailing around the New England area with two other 44-foot sail boats. Each boat had one safety officer and a crew of six or seven 2/c cadets. I had an amazing safety officer who taught me so much about sailing and my leadership philosophy. Those two weeks I got so close to a lot of my classmates and was able to explore different areas of New England. We would depart in the morning for a full day of sailing, where each cadet would have a different job. We would rotate positions each day so that we could fulfill the leadership role in different areas of expertise. After a great two weeks of sailing, I headed to Elizabeth City, North Carolina with a group of eight second class cadets to learn about Coast Guard Aviation. We were able to fly in the C-130s and get picked up out of the water by a Coast Guard helicopter. In that week I became very interested in aviation and learned so much more about it.


After a perfect week of flying I came back to the Academy to get qualified on the range. Range week was unique and I had a lot of fun. It was interesting to learn about the different parts of a pistol and also nerve racking being able to shoot it. After the initial shock of being in a confined space with eight other guns going off at the same time, it was easy to focus on what you were doing and qualify.


As we neared the start of Swab Summer, cadre sections began preparing for the swabs to arrive. We cleaned rooms and made sure all of the issued clothes were put in the correct places. It was a lot of work to clean and buff fifteen rooms, but with teamwork we got it all done! At the conclusion of prep week with the company ready to welcome in the Class of 2017, I departed for leave. Home was wonderful and it was the just the break I needed. I was able to see and hang out with all of my friends and family. Three weeks was a perfect amount of time to do everything I wanted without getting bored. I was rejuvenated and ready to come back to begin my cadre experience with the swabs. I have spent two weeks as a cadre and it has been a great experience. I have learned a lot about my leadership style and the aspects I hold most important. I never knew I could get so many things done in a day and not realize how tired I was until my head hit the pillow and I was immediately asleep. Even though they are long days with frustration and responsibility, it has been the most rewarding experience yet. I am a waterfront cadre, which means I am down on the waterfront teaching the swabs the basics of sailing. Waterfront cadre was the best choice for me and I am so happy that I was given this opportunity.


Only two weeks of this summer left it is almost unreal. I don’t understand how time goes by so quickly. It seems like last week that I was packing to go on Coastal Sail and now I am preparing for the school year. This summer has been so positive for many reasons. Not only did I have the opportunity to indoctrinate the Class of 2017 into the military lifestyle, but I was also able to get so close with many of my classmates. This experience taught me more about my classmates and myself and improved my ability to work with others that don’t have the same ideas and leadership styles.



More about Sara.


Performance Enhancement Platoon Cadre

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Ulbricht Photo I had the privilege of being what we call a Performance Enhancement Platoon (PEP) cadre. It is a one-on-one incentive training session with a swab of the same gender. We take underperforming swabs, openly confront their major discrepancies, and give them tools to hopefully make them want to turn around and perform better. A lot of the time when people hear about PEP, they think big and scary people yelling at an underperforming swab the entire time. It is more of like a horrible hour and 15 minutes. For me that is not why I wanted to do it. I put in for it because I was intent on being part of someone’s improvement, rather than see them continue to fail and eventually give up. At the end of the day I can say that I was able to motivate someone to want to stay here. The hours leading up to PEP, I kept thinking to myself I hope I don’t say the wrong thing that pushes them to the limit that makes them quit. I am not one for quitting at all. I didn’t want it riding on me that I could have influenced their decision and ended their career. I thought carefully about what I would say that could break them down mentally but only enough that I still had time to bring them back up by the end.


What was most motivating for me was that I got to see that breaking point for them. All I had been asking for them do was sound off why they wanted to be here, what motivated them, and the Coast Guard Core values. Something clicked in their mind at that point. I saw tears, which to me did not mean “poor me, I’m getting yelled at” but instead that they were ready to start changing. That was when I knew that I could begin to build them back up, and start motivating them to want to start performing better. For their sake, I am hoping some of the things I said to them will stick in their mind as they finish out the summer strong, and end up being a strong link in the class of 2017.


More about Cameo.


Ten Reasons

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Frost PhotoTen reasons why I love my job:


  1. Watching fireworks on Bastille Day in France from 140 feet in the air.
  2. Spending port calls in Bermuda, France, and Canada.
  3. Swinging off a line into the middle of the Atlantic for swim call.
  4. Climbing up a 140-foot mast to douse sails in the dark at 20 knots.
  5. Racing from Annapolis to Newport on a J-44.
  6. Shooting off flares for pyro-training on the 4th of July.
  7. Flying the biggest American flag I have ever seen when we pull into port.
  8. Seeing the Milky Way and shooting stars in the middle of the ocean.
9. Watching sunrise and sunset at sea.
10. Seeing whales, sharks, whale sharks, dolphins, turtles, and flying fish.


Ten more reasons why it's not for everyone: 

  1. Cleaning and cleaning and cleaning...dishes, toilets, showers, the bilge, the trash room...all of it.
  2. Getting less than four hours of sleep and getting up for watch.
  3. Being sea sick.
  4. Being soaked for days on end...
  5. Using baby wipes as showers.
  6. Never sleeping in a real bed.
  7. Working out on a boat.
  8. Being held into your rack with a lee cloth.
  9. Drinking powdered milk.
  10. Wearing issued swimsuits.

Despite everything, I wouldn't change my job for the world. I wish I got to experience the real fleet this summer. Eagle was basically just an extension of the Academy. Still, I learned a lot, and I am more eager than ever to eventually be in the fleet. Sure, some things weren't the most fun… but they created some of the best memories. 3/c summer training has been totally awesome. Nevertheless, I couldn't be happier to finally be on leave and get a break!


As always, feel free to ask me any questions at


More about Christi.


Flying with Eagles as Coast Guard Alaska

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo Sometimes you just have to laugh when the irony hits: watching Coast Guard Alaska on a cutter in Alaska is an incident you have to laugh about. If you have ever watched an episode, you probably noticed the most flashy rescues and law enforcements advertised; many of the most exciting cases involve air stations. While aboard the Cutter Maple in Alaska, I had the opportunity to visit Air Station Sitka. When I was dropped off at 7:30 a.m. I was briefed by a swimmer about emergency egress from the helicopter and then decked me out in gear for the flight. A middle aged man walked us through the plan for our all day flight, introducing himself and the co-pilot by their first names. I had experienced briefs before at the small boat station and on the buoy tender, yet this one was distinctly different. It was not until hearing one of the mechanics address the speaker as sir that I realized they were officers, experienced and respected lieutenants at that.


We climbed into the helicopter under the typical Sitka gray skies and even with all of my questions, the crew didn't falter in their routine. An in-flight communication system allowed me to listen to all communications between the pilots and the two mechanics in the back with me, and allowed me to ask questions throughout the flight. We flew from Sitka north through Angoon and Haines, to Glacier Bay, where we flew along the boundaries of the national park and landed on a wooden pad in the middle of the bay. The pilots later discussed prone locations for mountainside rescues and the isolated villages that need medical evacuations. About an hour after landing in Juno for lunch, the mechanics walked me through the pre-flight checks they did and we took off southbound for Sitka. During the flight I was hooked into a gunner's belt, which is a waist belt that allows the wearer to move freely around the cabin and even hang at the door. Standing next to a second class petty officer new to Alaska, we saw our first bear cubs running across the fields and whales breeching along the coast. We landed for a brief time on Sea Lion Cove, the first sandy beach I'd seen there. Flying back to Sitka, I felt exhausted and could tell the crew was worn out as well, but their diligent practice even at 4 p.m., more than eight hours later, was unaffected.


Throughout my remaining two weeks in Sitka, I spent my free time learning about aviation and sending dozens of questions to the mechanics and anyone I could find with knowledge about flight. While the buoy tender Maple was my primary focus this summer, I could not help but want to learn more about the air station after this life-changing flight. The camaraderie amongst aviators was immediately apparent and the teamwork so seamless; the opportunity to work with these crews again in the future is enough temptation to shift my goals. Spending time with Air Station Sitka exposed me to more opportunities and missions then I could have seen elsewhere, and gave me the direction I needed to keep focused through the rest of my Academy career.


More about Sarah.


Range/Prep Week/ROTR/T-Boats

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Hazen PhotoRange: I was very excited for Range Week, but it turned out to be pretty maddening. It was only a four-day week, but I was stuck in Chase Hall basement until Friday afternoon, because I wasn’t shooting a score of 114. I felt comfortable with the pistol; nothing seemed to click for me though. Thankfully, GM1 gave me one-on-one instruction and I was able to qualify as a Marksman with a score of 116. I am fine with that. Other than not initially being able to shoot the required score and being stuck waiting around in the basement; it was a pretty neat experience.


Prep Week: Prep Week was very relaxed; we finished a day early and had a lot of free time throughout the week. It was little exasperating that our prep time was six weeks before we were actually cadre, instead of a week before like the other cadre sections, but that is how the schedule worked out. We also weren’t able to stow the rooms during that week due to a convention being held at the Academy. Because our Prep Week was so early we had to come back early from leave to arrange rooms and do any last minute practices.


ROTR: Just felt like a long, long week of school. We were in a classroom the whole time, just reading over (page by page, word by word) navigation rules. After the classroom sessions (0800-1100 and 1300-1600), I went back to my room and kept going over online ROTR questions. We took six practice tests before our final test on Friday morning. I had done pretty well on my practice tests and thought I was ready for the final test. Unfortunately, I missed 7 out of 50 questions and passing is a 90% (missing only 5 questions). I was very frustrated; I had gone over hundreds of practice questions. Lucky, I was given another opportunity to retake the test and passed with a 92%.


T-Boats: As part of 2/c summer, we took out the old tugboats and practiced man overboard drills, anchoring, and conning/helming (instructing/driving). We spent half the week in the classroom, pretty much playing video games. There were boat stimulators that allowed us to practice docking and driving without actually putting the boats or us in danger. The other half of the time we spent out on the lovely Thames River, actually on the T-boats. The most memorable experience was when we took the boats out to Bluff Point, anchored and had a cookout and swim call. The water was freezing, but it was a nice getaway and we were able to lie out…in our one-pieces.


Four pretty uneventful weeks in a row, which led right into Coastal Sail…


More about Mary.


Leadership Development and Home!

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Bilodeau Photo At the beginning of this month I completed the Coastal Sail Training Program (CSTP) with my group of seven other classmates and our safety officer. It was a very rewarding experience. I definitely felt lucky to have the privilege of working with my classmates onboard Razorbill to learn how to sail, navigate from port to port, cook for each other, and clean our two-week home. The final ports we went to were Woods Hole, Newport, Stonington, and finally back to the Coast Guard Academy.


Upon returning to the CGA, we were granted our two weeks of leave for the summer. My friend Mary came home with me for a few days to experience what a Maine summer was like. While I was home I ran the Color Run with a few of my friends, and I also ran my first half marathon with my dad. My sister came home over leave, which made my two weeks even more enjoyable. I boated in Casco Bay, blueberry picked, hiked, and went on many beach walks with my family.


After leave, I began the three weeks of cadre. I am a CGA Scholars (CGAS) cadre. At times it is frustrating, but for the most part I am appreciating the responsibility and leadership development. I have a new appreciation for different leadership techniques. This opportunity is incredible, and it is amazing to see the transformation of the cadet candidates that are in my platoon. I did not know one thing about the ten candidates in Golf Platoon before they reported in, and now I genuinely care about each candidate’s success. It is satisfying to see them form as a group and overcome obstacles that we task them with every day.


More about Christina.


Learning Horizontal Running: Third Class Summer ‘Pitch Perfect’ Style

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo Summers at Academy, as I am sure you could guess, vary by year. After fourth class year we have two phases of summer training and a leave period. Due to shoulder surgery back in the winter I was not able to travel aboard the Eagle like the rest of my classmates, so unfortunately I do not have any thrilling stories about the high seas. I did however have the opportunity to go to Station New London for five weeks and Cutter Maple in Sitka, Alaska for six.


A typical day at the station consisted of shadowing the watch stander, typically junior enlisted personnel, and then helping the deck force clean and maintain equipment. When time allowed I worked with the Gunner's Mate and Maritime Law Enforcement Specialist on various weapons and pyro. Time spent in the armory was by far my favorite part of being at the station and it broadened my perspective of opportunities in the Coast Guard. Leaving Station New London I had a better idea of how real people used their passions and talents to accomplish a multitude of missions; an application that couldn't be learned in a classroom setting at the Academy.


On June 15th I was medically cleared to go to CGC Maple, a buoy tender in Sitka, Alaska. Prior to this summer I had never travelled west of Pennsylvania: going to Sitka was one of the most wild and amazing experiences of my life. While the cutter was in Charlie status, under repair for the engines, I was able to be a very active member of the in-port crew. I learned dozens of skills with the most prominent being basic damage control, watch standing, and skills to handling weapons. But those were the skills the Academy directly instructed us to learn, skills they felt would be the most helpful for a junior officer to understand. In my opinion however it was the mediocre, monotonous tasks that taught me about the people I want to work with, which is what I most look forward to. I learned how to pull up nonskid and put it down, how to scrape off paint and then re-paint, to dog hatches and close scuttles before going underway, to properly cut an onion, to make a gasket by hand, to start a fire pump, to test general alarms, and to climb the mast at sunset. The crew of the Maple taught me to quote the film "Pitch Perfect", to sing and dance to 'N Sync, to hike mountains and a volcano, to win the show "Chopped", to strut in a Fourth of July parade, and to play shuffleboard. Looking back at this set of skills some may seem more impressive than do others: in all, the development of this skill set allowed me to immerse myself as part of the crew and set expectations for myself as an officer candidate. It was bittersweet to leave Alaska a few days ago, but knowing that I have the opportunity to work with the best crew in the Coast Guard is motivation enough to work hard this school year.



More about Sarah.


Cadet Aviation Training Program

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Hazen Photo Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP) was quite interesting. I was on of 19 2/c cadets on the trip. We departed the Academy at 0530 on Sunday morning and made our way down to Elizabeth City, North Carolina. We arrived around 1800 Sunday night and quickly got situated. We were greeted by LT Wyrick. He ran out and grabbed us some pizzas because everything on base was closed. The week was very relaxed. All 19 cadets got to take a ride on a C-130, a Coast Guard fixed wing aircraft. However, because of the large group, not all of us were able to get on a helicopter ride…which was very disappointing. I would have loved to see what that was like.


The two most memorable experiences I took away from CATP were the ropes course and basket hoist. E-City recently built a new aquatic facility, where they train Aviation Survival Technicians/Rescue Swimmers (ASTs). The facility was awesome! It was a 50-meter pool that had a divider down the middle. On one side of the divider was a ropes course. It was a series of about 11 ropes. The first rope went all the way down to the water. The object of the course was the climb up the first rope then get across the other ten ropes that hung roughly 15 feet in the air. I almost made it all the way across, but dropped with two ropes to left. Many of the guys I was with made it, but they were also skipping ropes, grabbing every other rope. The ASTCS who was overseeing us said that the rescue swimmers could climb up the rope, go across all 10 ropes, come back to the beginning, climb down, climb back up, and repeat the whole process again.


That same ASTCS was also in the movie The Guardian with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. ASTCS Hall was very accommodating and genuine. He is someone I hope to run into again down the road.


The basket hoist was also an unforgettable experience. We had a rescue swimmer swim us under a helicopter as the helo dropped a basket down. The rescue swimmer placed us in the basket and we were hoisted up the helo. At the top we were all given Jolly Ranchers…as a congrats, you did it…I guess?


I would love to have another opportunity to explore more about Coast Guard aviation!



More about Mary.


Out on the Ocean

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Bilodeau Photo At the beginning of June we prepped for the incoming cadet candidates that the CGA Scholars (CGAS) cadre section was going to be responsible for starting in mid-July. Usually prep week is right before cadre, so we could only do so much to prepare early. Prep week mainly consisted of listening to trainings, developing our own methods for teaching the incoming trainees, and taking the PFE to make sure we were physically qualified cadre.


I also completed a weeklong classroom session called Rules of the Road (ROTR). From about 0800 to1600 we learned the rules in which sea-going vessels must abide. At the end of the week we took a test that you are required to pass with at least a ninety-percent. I studied very hard and passed on the first try, which is a great weight off my shoulders before heading into the 2/c academic year.


The following week was T-boats. A small group of about ten of my classmates was put on a T-boat with a supervising officer. I was on the T-boat named Respect. We learned how to recover a man overboard, anchor the vessel, and dock the vessel. We also learned the importance of following a checklist before getting underway. We worked in the simulators as well as the actual T-boats.


Coastal Sail Training Program (CSTP) was the final week of June. We had rotten weather for CSTP, and I was seasick in the beginning, but I thought it was a very worthwhile experience. I have lived on the water my entire life and I go power boating often, but the L-44s gave me a deeper appreciation for the ocean. The ports we sailed to in June consisted of Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Hyannis. I went for a long run in almost every port in order to explore the area, and make a mental note to visit these incredible places again.


More about Christina.


A Summer of Fun and Learning

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Having completed my third class summer training, I look back on it with satisfaction and excitement. I spent the past 11 weeks almost entirely underway.


On CGC Decisive, a 210-foot cutter out of Pascagoula, Mississippi, I spent the duration of my five weeks on board in the Gulf of Mexico near southern Texas. I had an absolutely amazing experience. Previously, the longest I had been underway was four days during my time on Eagle over Swab Summer. On Decisive, I spent 30 days underway. During that time, I was able to obtain a few qualifications and participate in several ship-board operations. For qualifications, I was able to complete Helm and Lookout, Quartermaster of the Watch, and I even made significant progress on my Damage Control packet. The Helm qualification is driving the ship using a steering wheel since 210’s do not have autopilot. In addition, the Lookout qualification involves standing watch on top of the cutter looking out for other vessels, aircraft, signs of danger, and wildlife. The Quartermaster of the Watch (QMOW) was my favorite qualification. While standing QMOW, I was responsible for maintaining the ships logs, making announcements, answering the phone on the bridge, plotting the ship position, and offering recommendations for course and speed to the navigator. I thoroughly enjoyed standing all of my watches, even despite the fact that for the majority of the time underway, I stood watch from 4-8 in the morning and 4-8 in the evening.


Decisive was a lot of fun because I got to participate in all of the ship’s operations. The most exciting operations I was a part of were: a gun shoot where I got to shoot a 50. cal, helo operations where I got to run underneath the helo’s blades and tie it down to the ship, and also small boat operations where I got to pull up a two mile long fishing line! Decisive was a fun learning experience that I will not soon forget.


After my time on Decisive, I spent the following six weeks on Eagle. What an experience! I did not think that I would like Eagle as much as I did. However, by the end of the six weeks, I was very happy to have been onboard. Our phase sailed from St. Petersburg, Florida to Mayport, Florida. Then, we sailed to Bermuda, up to St. Pierre (a French island near Canada), then to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and finally to Boston.


A Summer of Fun and Learning (Continued) PDF Icon  



More about Hunter.


A Recap of 100th Week

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Hazen PhotoMonday: We met out on the parade field and LCDR Christiansen handed us over to the Cape May Company Commanders. Petty Officer Saporito (SK2) took charge of Hotel Company. I relived Swab Summer for the next eight hours. Once the day was over, I went to bed…unable to move. My hamstrings would be tight for the next week and a half…


Tuesday: “Train the trainer” day – We all learned the tricks and secrets of being a cadre.


Wednesday: Room Inspections – My roommate, Christina, and I got our room inspected by SK2 Saporito and a few of our classmates. They found ‘dust buffalos’ behind my stereo cabinet and made Christina get her rifle to shoot them dead…it was absolutely hilarious!


Thursday and Friday: Stone’s Ranch – a lot of team building exercises. There were a series of three obstacle courses that all members of the class of 2015 were to complete as a team. Both Thursday and Friday were extremely hot and I was fighting a bad case of poison ivy. But Friday afternoon was one of the happiest days at the Academy. The class of 2015 put on 2/c shoulder boards and officially got the civies!


Saturday: I spent the day prepping for my 0530 departure to Elizabeth City, North Carolina for CATP (Cadet Aviation Training Program).



More about Mary.



(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Effendi Photo As a cadet at USCGA I realize that Eagle goes one of two ways, either you love it or you hate it. For me, I loved my time on Eagle. Maybe I enjoyed my time because I never got sea sick, but I know that I had a lot of fun both on and off the ship. The experience felt once in a lifetime even though I could come back to Eagle in the future, but I have the feeling that each time will be an entirely new experience.


While on Eagle we worked hard, but all the while making the experience unique and interesting. Each division rotates through different duty sections of engineering, CIC, helm, lookout, and watch on deck. In each, my shipmates and I were mentored by the enlisted crew members and had a great opportunity to learn and experience new things. My favorite watch was engineering, despite the general consensus of the rest of my class. Yes, it was extremely hot in the engine room, along with noisy, but I found great interest below deck. Every time we went down we learned something new and the crew had set another learning goal for us to achieve. The crew made it fun to be down there, personable and professional. I learned a lot while on Eagle.


The port calls; I cannot say enough about the amazing times I had in Saint Martin, Aruba, Guantanamo Bay, and Saint Petersburg. The warm weather, beautiful beaches, and stunning scenery made it easy just to wander around the islands all day. In Guantanamo we rented mountain bikes and traveled the island, visiting different beaches, to end at the Eagle versus Guantanamo Bay All Star soccer game. Even when I had duty in port I could still make the best of it, telling little kids that I was almost a pirate, and explaining to their parents that, yes, we do still steer the ship behind the helm. The stories of what we did at each port call are endless, and I know that I will never forget a moment of my experience.


I had a wonderful time on Eagle and wish I could have stayed on longer. Sadly, my next station is back at USCGA for summer school, rather than another unit like the rest of my classmates, but I know I can make the best of it. It definitely feels good to be back on solid ground again, but I cannot wait to get back out into the fleet, whether it is Eagle or another operational vessel.


More about Ardy.


100th Week, CATP, Range

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Bilodeau Photo I cannot believe 3/c year is actually over. After finals week every member in the Class of 2015 participated in 100th Week, where the Cape May Company Commanders came to train our class to become leaders. It was a transformation week similar to the challenges and evolutions we faced during Swab Summer. At the end of 100th Week we completed obstacle and leadership courses with our fellow shipmates. The CC’s made us pick up and put down a pen on the floor (the deck) over and over again. We changed a countless number of times from gym gear to ODUs, and we read the infamous passage about “Discipline” from our Blue Jackets, which all of us remember word-by-word from Swab Summer. Upon completing 100th Week we finally got to put on our 2/c shoulder boards.


The following week, a group of us went to Mobile, Alabama to participate in the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP). CATP will forever remain the highlight of my 2/c summer. I absolutely loved talking to the pilots in Mobile. I was granted the opportunity to actually fly a Falcon with one of my other classmates. On the Thursday of CATP our group drove to Pensacola and toured the assets on base. We were hoisted in a basket from the water into a helicopter, given a lollipop at the top, and hoisted back down into the Bay. I get chills thinking about how much fun I had at CATP and learning about aviation.


Next, we had range week. We learned how to disassemble and reassemble a pistol. At first I had a hard time qualifying on the range, but after I realized what I needed to do to hit the center of the target, I successfully qualified.


More about Christina.