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cadet blogs

Aviation Day 2011

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock As the President of the Aviation Club here at the Academy, I was given the responsibility and honor of organizing and running the annual Aviation Day event at the local Groton/New London Airport. It was a grueling, yet fun task. The work required organizing such a large event is unimaginable. I learned quickly a major part of leadership: delegation. Sometimes a task is simply too large to complete alone. I worked closely with other cadets to make the event a success. And, without a doubt, it was the best Aviation Day the Academy has ever seen.

We had almost one of every type of Coast Guard aircraft at the airfield, as well as several army and civilian aircraft. We had volunteers from the International Ice Patrol and a local Civil Air Patrol squadron as guests. And, for the first time ever, we had a live DJ, a popular staff member among cadets who works in Information Services.

Aviation Day exposes all cadets to Coast Guard aviation and allows cadets to see the aircraft up close. This year, we even offered six cadets the opportunity to fly in the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter. I will be sure to have a picture from Aviation Day uploaded here – look for it!

More about George.

September 11th Memorial Conference in D.C.

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock This September I was one of twenty five cadets selected by faculty to attend the official September 11th Memorial Conference in Washington, D.C. When I first heard, I was ecstatic because President Obama was scheduled to speak at it. Unfortunately, he was not there because that was the night he gave his infamous “Jobs Speech” on television. Still, I got to hear speeches by several famous people and politicians, including the Chief of Staff, the head of FEMA, and Madame Albright. There were many other government officials there as well, including a few congressmen.

The conference was a day-long event full of presentations, discussions, and meet-and-greets. I met many interesting and influential individuals. We all got to see the unreleased plans for the 9/11 memorial as well.

This is just one example of the many amazing opportunities the Academy provides cadets. I have been on many other similar trips, and I have friends who have traveled the world on trips like this (including to the Dominican Republic, Africa, and Italy). If you have any interest in seeing the world and meeting some of the most influential people in the world, the Coast Guard Academy provides that.

More about George.

Honduras Again

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock For leave this summer, I decided to take another week to return to Honduras. This was my fifth week-long visit to the Latin American country for some volunteering. I spent three days in the Santa Barbara Mountains north of San Pedro Sula helping paint the interior of a newly constructed library. I had such a good time up there because some local guys came to help us (myself, Mark Zanowicz who is another Academy blogger, and Bobby, the owner of Volunteer Honduras). The locals who helped us were my age so it was a lot of fun working with them and talking with them all day long. It's amazing how similar they are to me. Yeri, a 21-year-old, and I are now both very good friends and will be staying in touch from now on. I love making friends with Hondurans, they are some of the nicest people I have ever met.

Early in the week we went on a half day hike up the Santa Barbara Mountain with an older British gentleman named Malcolm. He is extremely knowledgeable in many environmental subjects, especially birds. It was an amazing (and dangerous) hike several thousand feet in elevation and I took some amazing photographs.

Later in the week we also visited a cave that goes so far into the earth that tourists wishing to complete the entire tour must use oxygen tanks. Unfortunately, we were on the way to a waterfall and did not have shoes, so we were able to complete only the first hour of the cave tour, but it was still very amazing. The waterfall afterwards was also breathtaking. We jumped in the freezing cold river (the water is cold because it comes from a nearby mountain) and swam through the waterfall to a cave behind it. It is the first waterfall I have been to that is “safe” enough to swim through – others I have had to swim around to get behind the waterfall. I even jumped through the waterfall from a cave behind it, though it violently pushed me into the river. Still, it was very adventurous and fun.

Even though we don't get too many long vacations here at the Academy, it's important to do something worthwhile with that little time we are given. When you're here, try something new. Go to another country, and begin to see the world. It's incredible how much there is out there.

More about George.

Sector Experience

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock I had many great experiences at Sector Long Island Sound in New Haven for the second half of my 1/c training summer. I participated in several inspections with industry and port partners, specifically with yacht club vessels which transport people between the shore and their yachts. This was a great opportunity to develop my professionalism in the business world in working with industry and port partners. I learned what was required of these vessels and their masters; steps taken to fix any arising issues during the inspection; how to properly inform the master of the vessel of the issue; and how to resolve it to satisfy the requirements of the inspection.

It was an amazing opportunity to participate in the boarding of an oil tanker with a team from the Sector's response department and members from the station. After motoring to the tanker, we all climbed up the jacob's ladder to the main deck. The team I went with went to the bridge with the captain and completed a check of the crew's passports. I was able to directly participate in this evolution and I observed how the rest of the crew interacts with the crew of the ship we are boarding.

I joined the gunner mates (GMs) and several petty officers from the station on a trip to the range. I qualified in both basic pistol and rifle and observed other various courses required for personnel to participate in boardings. I continued my training with the GMs during the week at station and spent time in the armory.

Even though I have always wanted to be a pilot, I am also very interested in working in Coast Guard Intelligence. I worked with the intel officers on sign-offs and independently completed a Field Intelligence Report (FIR). I enjoyed completing the FIR; I researched the reports made, put together the information, did some background research on the people and AORs involved, and produced a finished copy of the FIR which LT Felix reviewed and then submitted as an official FIR, which the CAPT at sector also read.

On Monday, I joined three Marine Safety Technicians on a trip to Guilford, Connecticut to re-inspect a beach for tar balls, followed by a trip to an oil spill on I-95 where a truck carrying fuel got caught on fire and leaked burning fuel down a storm drain and into a marina under the bridge.

I enjoyed spending six weeks at the sector and learning what the Coast Guard does outside of the cutter fleet. I also enjoyed the free time I had after work every day. It's a great career working for the Coast Guard and fulfilling the amazing missions it supports.

More about George.

First Class Underway Experience

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock Most prospective cadets, as I did, have one thing on their minds: is the Academy for me? As the years pass by and time is spent underway during the summers, this question evolves into one of a grander scheme: is the Coast Guard for me? My summer experience this year is answering the question for me.

As an aviation enthusiast, I was not fond of the idea of spending five weeks on a cutter this summer despite it being in the tropical utopia of Key West, Florida. I, however, went with an open mind and ended up having an amazing time onboard. Not only was my experience fun, but I learned more that I could have imagined I would. One week was dedicated solely to training on shipboard emergencies, knowledge which will be extremely useful after I graduate.

My favorite part of the experience was a law enforcement case in which we were in a high-speed chase to intercept drug runners from Cuba. Adrenaline was high and greatly boosted the crew's morale. We also conducted several migrant operations and I had the opportunity of being on the cutter when it pulled into Cuba. Not many Americans can say they have been to Cuba!

Now I am at Sector Long Island Sound, which I am very happy about because this summer I am getting both the underway and land experience in the Coast Guard. This will help me decide what I want to do upon graduation if I do not get accepted to flight school right away. My June blog will be about the sector so watch for that, and, as always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

More about George.

Ring Dance

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock This past weekend was the Class of 2012’s Ring Dance. The formal dinner was delicious; I chose to have filet mignon. Chef Pat always does an amazing job cooking for the cadets. The cadets are fortunate to have such great food all the time!

After the dinner and a few speeches, the 2/c cadets all made their ways down to Leamy Hall for an evening of dancing and, of course, dipping their new class ring in the Water of the Seven Seas and taking a picture with their date under the big ring. It was a great night and I am very happy with my ring. My family was excited to see it this Easter weekend.

Congratulations to everyone who received their appointments! For those who are applying next year, as always, feel free to contact me at George.G.Glock@uscga.edu.

More about George.

NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock As a member of the CGA Regimental Band, I had an amazing experience this semester. All band members were given the opportunity to participate in the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade – yes, the one that is on television! It was a unique experience. I had marched in many parades before, but not one as televised as this one. Marching through NYC with masses of people on either side of the parade was surreal; over three-million people were in attendance. The sound of everyone cheering was deafening. New York City was definitely the place to be this St. Patrick’s Day. This is the type of amazing experience cadets have the opportunity to have!

More about George.

El Sol es Fuerte!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock Sorry for not posting recently, but you know how busy it is here! As my blog followers know, this December I traveled to Honduras my third time to engage in volunteer service with Students Helping Honduras (SHH). This time, I kept an electronic journal throughout the week, and I would like to share it all with you. I am going to leave my style of writing as is when I wrote it; some sentences are incomplete, but the purpose is to tell the story of what I did as concisely as possible. For those of you who enjoy volunteer service, you will have many opportunities to do so at the Academy. I hope you enjoy!

Sun 1500 - On plane to Miami. Very excited to see the SHH staff again and to meet all of the other volunteers! I hope some of the kids from Villa Soleada remember me like they did the last time I returned. This time, I brought an entire duffel bag of clothes for them. I got that idea from my friend Chi who did that the last time she went to Honduras. Can't wait for the warm weather. El sol es fuerte!

Sun 2100 - Left Miami, on plane to San Pedro Sula, HN. It has been a very long day, and the flight departed late so I am very tired. I hope I have enough time to meet the other volunteers tonight. They all arrived yesterday and know each other already.

Sun 2145 - Still on the plane for some reason. We are over an hour late now. I feel bad for whichever staff member is picking me up!

Sun 1000 - Ohhh... time zone change... my bad!

Mon 1625 - Wow! What an amazing day so far. After a good night sleep (6 hours is a lot for me), we had some breakfast at the hotel consisting of delicious eggs, refried beans, cheese, and of course, tortillas! Then we all hopped on the bus to head to a nearby school.

This week there are a lot of volunteers and we are divided between three hotels. My hotel, which is not the same one I stayed at the past two times, had 20 volunteers. Everyone has great personalities and we are all already becoming very good friends. I think this will be my best trip yet.

The morning was actually a little chilly (60 degrees is chilly here). When we arrived at the school, the temperature had already risen to about 85 (in December)! All the little kids ran to the bus and started yelling and smiling. It was adorable. We got off the bus and were swarmed by the kids who wanted high fives, hugs, and to be picked up.

We made our way to the work site where one school was finished and the second, which would be joined to the first, had a foundation laid and a trench dug halfway around the perimeter. Today we finished the trench around it which will be for the wall. It was a lot of hard work. We pick-axed and shoveled for hours in the sun then broke for lunch. The village mothers prepared us baleadas: eggs, beans, rice, and tortillas. It was delicious. I love the simplicity of the food here, and it really gets you immersed in the experience.

Tues 1430 - After lunch, we spent another four hours moving cement. It was very hard work. Later in the night we went to Villa Soleada for an hour of salsa dancing. This morning we returned to the school and mixed the cement we moved yesterday. Luckily it was a lot cooler today, though it was raining on and off.

After lunch, we made a quick stop at the mall. It is surrounded by a large stone wall and dozens of federal police officers. Mostly Americans and wealthy Hondurans go there. We are now on the bus and arriving at Villa Soleada. All of the kids are chasing the bus, I'd better go!

Tues 1730 - Villa was so much fun! We got a tour of the village; it was great to see all the progress that has been made since the summer. The learning center now has computers and internet, and the Children’s Home is almost finished. They also now have more agriculture and gardens.

Quite a few kids remembered me. My little buddy Jorge was back too (he was in Villa during my first visit, but not my recent one). We played an intense game of pick-up soccer (Hondurans vs. Gringos). I scored a goal but we still lost 4-1.

We are on the bus now, and just got stuck in mud so we all got out and placed a rock trail in front of the tires to make it through the mud. So much fun! Now we are returning to the hotel for a relaxing evening after a long day.

Weds 1330 - This morning we went to IHNFA, the state orphanage. When we arrived, another group was already there. They had someone dressed up as Santa giving the kids gifts (donations of toys, clothing and candy).

I always enjoy the IHNFA (one of the largest orphanages in Honduras) visit because I get to spend time with the most desperate kids in Honduras. Since there were other visitors as well, I did not get the emotional shock I usually get when I am there. It is great to see that other organizations visit the orphanage as well. Afterwards, we went to Baleadas Express for lunch, an SHH tradition. It is similar to a Chipotles, and is unbelievably delicious and filling.

We are now on the bus and heading to Villa Soleada to paint the new Children's Home and to play soccer again. We just bought some fruit from off the side of the road. I’m not sure what it is, but it's very strong and sour. It’s just like a gummy candy actually.

Weds 1445 -We are about to start the soccer (futbol) game. The mothers are selling the hand-made purses and jewelry; they make for great Christmas presents! And the weather is perfect - sunny but not too hot!

Weds 1745 - We had a great afternoon at Villa today. Lots of soccer games and just playing with the kids.

I hung out with one of the older Honduran girls, Ruthy Adriany Lime Reyes, who goes to college in Honduras and works with us in Villa. She went through my phone's music and told me all of the American songs that are famous in Honduras. I was surprised at how many songs she knew and that she knew many of the words to them. When Hondurans are given the opportunity to be educated, they put 100% effort into it and soak up as much knowledge as they can.

We are on the bus and heading back to the hotel now. Tomorrow we are going to the beach which is always a highlight of the trip! The water is very warm, even in December.

Thurs 1845 - Today was great. We returned to the school to continue laying the foundation for the walls. It was pretty hot today and all the shoveling and manual cement mixing was very tiring, but fun too.

After the construction, we went to a beach in Tela with a group of kids from Villa. It was a blast; the water was warm and the kids were great.

Fri 0820 - Last night we watched Su Nombre. It was my third time seeing it, but I enjoy watching it every time. It is about the gangs in Honduras, and is very educational as well.

Now we are on the bus heading to the school to continue laying cinderblocks for the wall.

Sun 2200 - Finished walls to school. We did way more than they expected us to. And the Honduran locals and workers even commented often about how much we were getting done.

I spent my last day in Honduras to relax and have some adventurous fun. Bobby, a recent SHH staff member, took me and two volunteers to the biggest waterfall in Honduras. It's even higher than Niagara Falls! We descended down the side of a cliff, then jumped down into the water and went through the waterfall. We had to cover our eyes and noses to make it through. Water was shooting everywhere and it was almost impossible to see. Behind the waterfall there is an extremely small entrance to an extremely small cave. We crawled inside despite it being completely pitch black.

The return back through the waterfall was even more dangerous than entering it, but also more fun. On the way up, we stopped to jump off a 30 or so foot cliff. That was a lot of fun considering we had to jump very far to clear rocks, and being only a few meters from the waterfall meant a very strong current. I was very happy I jumped though!

After the waterfall we stopped on the side of the road and purchased a bunch of fireworks. We drove to Villa Soleada (being the first volunteers ever to be there at night), and started lighting some off. After the first BOOM! kids came running out of their houses, even though it was late. We spent the next hour putting on a firework show for the kids.

More about George.

Great Start to a New Semster

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock School is in full swing and I am having a great semester. I feel much less stressed this year, and I find my studying enjoyable because all of my classes are government-related. I find it very useful to combine my homework with working out – an unusual combination – but an efficient one nonetheless. I bring my books to Billard with me, hop on a bike or elliptical, and read for class. This gives me a lot of free time later in the day because I get all of my work done early.

I am keeping very busy holding leadership positions in three clubs (Aviation, Astronomy, and Bowling). The Bowling team is really taking off this year. We are planning several competitions with local colleges and we are going to be joining the Eastern Intercollegiate Bowling Conference (EIBC). I have loved the sport of bowling since middle school, and I am very happy to be continuing it. I have improved so much thanks to my coach LT Smith; my average is around 170 now. I don’t make it to practice much because I am running cross country, but when the season ends I’ll be back into bowling 100%!

Next weekend is Parents Weekend, so my parents will be taking the ferry here from Long Island. I am definitely looking forward to next weekend and having my parents meet the parents of all the new friends I have made. October should make for an exciting month. I am traveling to the Naval Justice School tomorrow with some cadets from my Criminal Justice class, so that should be fun. And, Halloween is only one month away!

More about George.

NNOA and ANSO Conference

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock During the summer, I volunteered to attend the first annual National Naval Officers Association/Association of Naval Services Officers (NNOA/ANSO) Joint Conference in Portsmouth, Virginia. It is true that my generation is different and less racially oriented, but it is also irresponsible to claim that the issue of racial and ethnic discrimination is completely solved. Furthermore, the word diversity haunts cadets because it is associated with trainings that cadets feel they do not need, because they argue “I am not racist!”

Yet, what I learned at the conference is that diversity is much more than having people of different races, ethnicities, and genders. Diversity can be anything that makes someone a unique contributor to a group – experiences, hometown, family structure, values, religion, organizational participation, etc. I learned that in no way does the USCGA recruit and accept students based on race, ethnicity, and gender. There are no quotas to fill. Rather, recruiting in an effort to encourage diversity is accomplished by visiting those areas never visited before, both inland and coastal. Already the corps of cadets is become more diverse and saturated with people with many different cultures and experiences.

The best part of the trip was meeting with Admiral Papp (Commandant of the Coast Guard) several times that week and having personal conversations with him, as well as with many other admirals, captains, and officers. It was an amazing experience not only in diversity, but in my development of professionalism and communication skills.

More about George.

Swab Summer and Aviation Training

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock Just two short years ago, I was a terrified swab in a new, unfamiliar and scary world. Now I am the cadre creating this chaotic environment for the swabs. It is interesting seeing swab summer from a totally different point of view, and it gives me a new appreciation for the cadre that trained me two years ago.

Training swabs for three weeks in a row was not an easy job. It was extremely tiring, but it was filled with funny moments and memorable experiences. My friends and I had a great time, and we all grew very close. I enjoyed sharing this unique experience with my friends. The swabs progressed exponentially, and it was rewarding knowing that their progress was due to the hard work of my shipmates and me.

Even though swab summer was a great time, my favorite part of the summer was CATP (Cadet Aviation Training Program). I spent a week in Elizabeth City, North Carolina for training, tours, and observation flights. I participated in a duck hoist in which a Jayhawk helicopter hoisted cadets individually from the water, up to the helicopter, and back down to the water in a basket. I also took a flight in a Jayhawk and got to observe a duck hoist to a USCG cutter as well as watch the rescue swimmer practice drills. I also took a flight in a C-130 and got to fly it for about twenty minutes. Having my pilot license definitely helped and the pilot let me do some fun maneuvers with the aircraft. Being an aviation fanatic, this was definitely the best week of my summer.

More about George.

Return to Honduras

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock Every summer, cadets receive three weeks of leave. This year, I spent one week home with my family, one week at the Jersey shore with some of my best friends from the Academy, and one week in Honduras for the second time.

My return to Honduras was more amazing than I could have ever anticipated. I saw the country in a different light having already known what to expect. This time, the shock of poverty did not inhibit my performance, and I was able to give so much more to the children and people of Honduras.

When we arrived at Villa Soleada, the children were waiting at the Learning Center. They all swarmed the bus, jumping and reaching for high fives from the gringos (American volunteers) in the windows. Almost all of the volunteers were new to Villa Soleada, but as I stepped off the bus, dozens of children yelled “Jorge!” and hugged me with the biggest and most beautiful smiles I have ever seen. My heart was flooded with joy, and the fact that these kids remembered me from several months ago. Countless parents throughout the week also remembered me and thanked me with tears, hugs and kisses for returning. The people of Villa Soleada truly are thankful for the college volunteers, and we are equally thankful for everything they give back to us.

This week was very similar to the last time I visited. We visited the orphanage again – the place I described as hell the last time – and this time the visit was more bearable. I was able to control my emotions and dedicate myself and my time to the kids. We finished painting the Learning Center and the building is now being used by the children for education, events, and as a community building. I heard they now have a computer lab as well, which is amazing!

I cannot wait to return. Although I cannot go this winter due to trip week availability and leave from the Academy, I am definitely returning during Spring Break. Many cadets are also interested in going with me. It will be great to be able to share such a unique and rewarding experience with my friends here.

More about George.

The Other World – Honduras

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock Since an early age I have had a strong will to help others. I believe all humans have this will, but mine seemed to be stronger than that of my peers – so strong that some things I wanted to do seemed farfetched to others. I held off and pursued other avenues during my high school career, the most prominent was leading my National Honor Society. But that is not what this blog is about; this blog will focus on my journey to Honduras in the spring of 2010 and the inspiring and disturbing experiences I had there.

There is a lot more to my experiences that what I will post here. If you wish to hear more about any part of my week, feel free to email me at George.G.Glock@uscga.edu and I will be more than happy to respond! My ultimate goal in writing this is to educate others on the devastation that innocent people must live with everyday in a hope that they, in the future, participate with similar organizations.

The Decision

It is my second year away from home. I am a sophomore (3/c) cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy. I now have the opportunity and ability to go on a volunteer service trip to an underdeveloped country. After searching many organizations online, I choose Students Helping Honduras (SHH). I file my foreign travel memo to Honduras for spring break and begin to research the area. Before I know it, I am getting off the plane in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The Orphanage

Words, no matter how blunt, are weak. It is hell on earth. For four long hours, I explore this hell and the children who live here. There are neither words nor images that can convey the way I feel in this orphanage. I will explain my experience to the best of my ability because I feel it is extremely important to make people aware of the situation that is more than wrong. Nothing is dramatized, merely pure experience and emotion.

The SHH school bus pulls up to the orphanage alongside a 10-foot high green wall. It is unbearably hot and humid. An SHH staff member warns us that is there nothing they can do to prepare us for what we are about to experience. Everyone is very quiet; we know that we have a very difficult four hours ahead of us.

We file out of the bus and enter the orphanage through a large door in the wall. There is a long stretch of dirt with small patches of dying grass leading to the entrance of the orphanage. There is an awkward silence occasionally disrupted by the buzz of insects. I see a child around the age of 11 come running out of the orphanage. He is wearing overalls and holding them up with his hands, barely keeping them above his waist. He runs to and hugs the first volunteer he sees for a moment before moving to another volunteer. He is making weird noises and yelling “bow!” and “bam!” pretending to punch the volunteers. Many of the children come from extremely abusive families; this will become more apparent as I continue.

As soon as we enter the building, children suddenly flood around us, jumping around with their arms in the air begging us to pick them up. (I later learned that the children live in bunk beds and some sleep on the floor all in the same room and are not allowed out unless there are visitors. There are only three women who work at the orphanage and they do not have the time to look after the kids. Many kids are violent and have special needs and the staff cannot risk them getting hurt. There is simply too much going on, especially with the infants, to have time to care for wounds).

An SHH staff member, Emily, asks me if I would like to go to the toddler room with her. I say yes and follow her upstairs. The door is locked from the outside. It is a heavy wooden door with a small opening with vertical bars. We unlock the door and enter. About twenty small toddlers swarm around up, jumping and pleading in Spanish for our attention. All of the kids were adorable. Some you could tell had special needs, and some were blind in one eye, some in both.

There is one child, about five years old, sitting with his legs straight out, hunched forward with his face on the ground. He has something in his hand and is scratching the concrete floor of the toddler room with it. It is an eerie sound; I do not know how to respond. I want to walk over and do something – anything – but I am afraid. You could tell the child was in extreme mental/emotional anguish; I have never felt so uncomfortable and saddened in my life. I feel powerless to do anything for the young boy.

A few feet away there is another boy, about the same age, lying on his stomach with his head turned sideways. His big brown eyes were wide open. He lies there motionless, showing no signs of life. There are several other children around the room, some lying but not moving, some banging their head against the wall or the floor, and others sitting and staring at nothing. It is so surreal; it is like I am in a movie. How can this… this hell exist here on earth, and with children nonetheless! I do all I can. I make sure I pick up every toddler and that no one is forgotten. They all enjoy when I pick them up and let them look out the window. They rarely get to see the outside of the orphanage. It breaks my heart knowing that my picking them up and letting them look out of a window – something so simple – will be the best thing that happened to them perhaps that entire week.

After being in the toddler room for almost an hour, Emily and I begin to make our way toward the door. The swarm of kids around us follow with arms stretched high and eyes wide. I have never felt so wanted – so needed – in my life. How can I, a gringo (westerner), be the only light in their life? Furthermore, how can I leave? These kids are living in this awful place, and I am going to simply walk out on them? (I later learned from the SHH staff that even though it is hard to leave, it is justified. There are other children that need us. And if one did stay, that’s only one person. However, if that person returns home and shares his/her story, helps to raise funds, and gets more volunteers, that is a lot better than one person staying in Honduras.)

The next room Emily and I go to is the infant room. I walk in and the first thing that hits me is the stench. The only way I can possible describe it is the smell of feces, puke, urine, and death, sprinkled with the hot humid air of Honduras. It is nauseating. I fight it and continue into the room. Three SHH female volunteers are holding babies and crying. I thought the toddler room was a bad, but this is beyond hell. Words cannot explain my emotions. I feel furious, scared, helpless… again, another child on the floor, flat on its stomach with its eyes wide open but not moving. What is going on here? They call this a government-run institution? How can America let something like this happen?

Suddenly, I have an epiphany. From all the devastation, hunger, and crime I have seen in Honduras, there is nothing as strong as seeing babies lying around a room dying. I need to come back. Not want; need. Because if I don’t, this memory will haunt me and guilt will remind me how I left these innocent children here to suffer while I return to my privileged life. I do also feel a sense of pride for finally going through with something that I have wanted to do for such a long time.

(It is difficult to write about the orphanage. There is a lot more to the story, but these two main events are what define my experience there. If you wish to know more about my experiences, please contact me).

The Village

Before we saw the new village of Villa Soleada, we visited the old village where the families used to live. There is a long dirt road leading to the village with piles of garbage burning on the side of it. The first thing I notice is the condition of the houses. They are built out of sheet-metal, the roofs leak, and are mostly empty. The little personal belongings the villagers have are old, rusted, and often broken or unsafe.

There are stray dogs roaming. I can see their ribs tearing at their skin. I have never seen a dog so malnourished. Many of the people are extremely skinny, though many children have large stomachs due to parasites. Children are dirty and you can tell they have not bathed in a very long time. They look up at us with big brown eyes. They are so cute. It is hard to believe these children could easily be healthy American children, yet they are stuck in the underdeveloped world they were born into.

The lack of sanitation is simply unbelievable. This is something I have only seen on television before. I have a totally different perspective now that I am here in person seeing the suffering and malnutrition. I want to bring all of the children back home so they can be healthy and live a better life. It seems so unfair. It is unfortunate that the majority of Americans are not aware of the poverty that still exists today. I keep hearing arguments about how “aid is bad,” but that depends on the type of aid one is analyzing. Sure, handouts create dependency and hurt the local entrepreneur, but my trip to Honduras taught me that there are other ways to implement aid that do not yield these negative consequences. My challenge will be to convince others that aid is more than simply donating money.

Villa Soleada

The new village is beautiful. There are many houses, each about the size of a one car garage. I can tell a lot of work has been put into Villa Soleada already. We are working on several projects this week. We are digging a trench around the new orphanage for a wall (required by Honduras law), laying bricks for the new orphanage, and mixing/laying cement for the floor of the Learning Center. It is extremely hot and the days are long, but it is a great experience working side-by-side with the families of the village.

As soon as I feel any fatigue, I can look up and see a 10-year-old boy working hard and digging with a pick-axe and I am motivated to continue working – that is what I came here for!

The Next Step

So what now? Here I am back in the U.S., but these children are still suffering. I learned that the best thing to do is to not be individualistic when it comes to volunteering. The best thing is to leave, go home, and share your story with friends, family, and strangers. Let them know about the human suffering. Perhaps even educate them on the comparative politics of underdeveloped countries and why their poverty is not their fault, and how aid, when implemented correctly, does not yield dependency. And even better than spreading the word, fundraise and get some people to return with you. That is now the next step in this journey.

More about George.

The Academy Has a Lot to Offer

(Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock Before coming to the Academy, I was not a very athletic person. In fact, I did not play any sports until I was a junior in high school when I started running cross country. After joining the XC team, I realized how important sports are to building character and teamwork, and I am happy that sports are a requirement at the Academy.

The first sport I did my 4/c year was crew (rowing). After the fall season, I decided I wasn’t interested in continuing and began shooting rifle and have been on the rifle team ever since. I have a lot of fun and made great friends on the team, but I decided to change sports once again to something more athletic. I joined the Volleyball Club, and it’s really a lot of fun. A lot of my friends are on the team, so I look forward to practice. Next year I am planning on joining the XC team here. I run an hour every day, so I figure I might as well do it on the team here. Running has become a passion of mine and I look forward to running XC next year.

Moral of the story: The Academy has a lot to offer. Try out different sports every season until you find one you really like. Try something new. You can join any sport here; you don’t need to be really good at it. Make sure you’re doing a sport you enjoy so that practice is fun and something you look forward to.

More about George.

How I Got Here

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 George Glock My situation is quite unique, and one many prospective cadets can probably identify with and learn from. The Coast Guard Academy was not my first choice. So how did I end up here, and why am I still here?

When I first began applying to colleges, the most important thing for me was aviation. In some way shape or form, my college needed to give me an opportunity to pursue a flight career. Secondly, I was very interested in the military (I was in the Civil Air Patrol). My top choices, in order, were as follows: Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona), and a few more local schools.

Interestingly, I did not know the Coast Guard existed until I was applying to schools. Here is an interesting anecdote: During my interview with my Congressional Representative’s staff for my nomination to the Air Force Academy, before I left, a female officer leaned over to me and whispered something in my ear. She said, “Mr. Glock, you are a great candidate for any Academy… however, I strongly suggest, based on your answers to these questions, you look into the Coast Guard Academy. It seems like a perfect fit for you.” When I first heard this, I thought my chances of receiving the nomination were slim because they didn’t think I was a good fit for the USAFA or USNA. However, I ended up receiving all three nominations: Congressman Bishop, Senator Clinton, and Senator Schumer.

Despite receiving three nominations to the USAFA, I was not accepted. I was also not accepted to the USNA because I did not have any nominations since all three had USAFA as my first choice. Several weeks after this news, I was accepted to the USCGA. Looking back, I do believe this all happened for a reason. I really do belong here.

The reason that officer told me what she did was because I am very interested in humanitarianism. Many of my answers were based on of that theme. I was very honest during my interview because I did not want to end up at the wrong school. I even admitted a foible of mine: I highly dislike and discourage violence, although I understand it is needed to prevent worse outcomes. Immanuel Kant would be disappointed in me basing my morals on consequences because humans are not omniscient (my Government major coming out). I believe those officers and alumni appreciated my honesty, an extremely important virtue of an officer. Remember that during your interviews. I have interviewed over eight prospective cadets; I do not look for the perfect answer, I look for an honest answer.

Back on track, I was accepted to the USCGA fairly late and I had about a week to decide if I was going to accept the appointment. I had already enrolled in ERAU (Daytona) and had all of the paperwork and scholarships (including AFROTC) finished. It was an extremely difficult decision, but I decided that the prestige of an Academy and the USCGA’s humanitarian mission was extremely important to me, and it was worth putting my dream of flight on hold for four or more years. I am an optimist, so I looked at the bright side. By then, I had already earned my Private Pilot License during my senior year in high school, so I would still be able to fly occasionally at the Academy, which I have been doing and staying current. In fact, this past Columbus Day weekend I rented a plane with my best friend here, Wryan, and we flew over the Academy and took some pictures for the Aviation Club to use. More on that another time.

To summarize, even though the USCGA was not my first choice, looking back now I would have made it my first choice above all other colleges and all other academies. Every once in a while I think, “Man, I could be in Daytona right now, eighty degrees, flying a plane over a beach.” But then I look at the amazing life-long friends here – people I would give my life for – and I will never trade it for anything. What the Academy has to offer is truly priceless. Unlike other academies, you know everyone in your entire class by first name. I was at West Point last weekend for a rifle match, and cadets there seemed much more disconnected from each other. Their corps is four times the size of ours, and people graduate knowing only a fraction of their class. The atmosphere at USCGA is much more united and close. It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by – and living with – friends who look out for you. If it wasn’t for my friends I have made here, I could not have made it this far.

More about George.

I’m Back!

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring Hello prospective cadets and endearing parents of aspiring Coasties! After a long and rude hiatus, I am back on the blogging scene and eager to share my experiences with you. I believe last that the last time we spoke, I had just returned from my 2/c summer and was beginning 2/c year. Well, here I am now, halfway through fall semester of 1/c year! The time has flown by and I have had a lot of great experiences. I hope to catch you up on all of them, but first off, I will shed some light on my academic situation.

In short, whoa. Whoa, these classes are hard, whoa, there are a lot of them, and whoa, I didn’t see this coming. Here we are, the 16 civil engineering majors of the class of 2012, showing up for another semester of engineering fun. Little did we know that this semester would be an onslaught of design classes, group work, throwback formulas from 3/c year, and an electrical engineering class just to make things interesting! It’s sort of like I am a one man engineering firm. Designing sheet piles (metal pieces in the ground that keep groundwater out of a construction site), planning construction projects, designing reinforced concrete, playing with electrical components not having any clue of what is going on, and my favorite and what makes the workload a little more bearable, learning the basics of flight.

That’s right; I am enrolled in the Academy’s first ever Private Pilot Ground School Course. It’s awesome, and will be great preparation for flight school should I make the cut. But for now, it is helpful in my endeavor to obtain a private pilot certificate. (During my recess from blogging I acquired 33 hours of flight time in a single engine trainer, and am hoping to get my certificate this year).

Yes, the classes are tough and the homework is endless, but that’s just the way things go here. With 16 people in the major, we are a tight and we get through it together. As with most things here, everyone around me can relate and we get move forward as a group. We are going to power through this semester and are looking forward to our senior design projects (I am designing a fire house for Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina). I will keep you posted as things develop.

As always, feel free to email me! Michael.G.Klakring@uscga.edu.

More about Mick.

A Summer of Transformation

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring My third Coast Guard Academy summer has officially come to a close, and they just get better and better. I have already written a couple of entries about the first half of my summer and the great success we had with the Ocean Racing program, but have not yet written about what is probably the more important part of my summer.

The beginning of this summer marked the 100th week, a week of preparation for my class, the new second-class cadets, who would be cadre just a few weeks later. The end of this summer was a realization of the transformation we made during that week. As a swab summer waterfront cadre this summer, I was quickly thrust into the most intense, important, and tiresome position in which I have ever been.

My primary role this summer was teaching the swabs how to sail through six waterfront lessons that they took throughout the summer. The first lesson taught the swabs the parts of the boat; the ultimate basics of seamanship and sailing. By the sixth and final lesson, swabs were sailing on courses in the Thames River, tacking and jibing, testing their capsize recoveries, leaving and entering the basin, and showing how much they had learned in the three weeks that my cadre section had been around. It was immediate feedback to our leadership and teaching, and very rewarding to see them all sailing by the end of the summer. And that was just my day job...

After waterfront was all finished each day, I came back to the barracks and continued my cadre experience with the swabs of Hotel Company. First of all, we by far had the best swabs, and the best cadre. We became one cohesive unit, succeeding and failing as one, relying on each other, respecting each other, and learning from each other. I never thought I could grow so attached to a group of people in such a short amount of time. I took pride in my Hotel swabs and in my cadre section, and truly enjoyed being able to provide the foundation of those individuals’ Coast Guard career.

The swabs came here as wide-eyed civilian teens and finished the summer as highly motivated and basically trained United States Coast Guard cadets. I entered this summer as a 3/c cadet, a follower/mentor, excited about yelling and running around with swabs, unaware of the challenge before me, and left as a 2/c cadet, a leader/role model, with a better appreciation of leadership, responsibility, and how it feels to change someone’s life for the better. Swab summer was just as hard, if not harder, as a cadre, but I loved every minute of it and will remember this experience for the rest of my life.

All of a sudden I have transformed into a leader in the corps. The rest of my class and I are responsible for the class of 2014, and will forever be linked to them by the experience we shared with them this summer.

More about Mick.

The World’s Classic Ocean Race

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring I am writing this entry having finally returned from the beautiful island of Bermuda! We raced the Academy’s J-44 sailboat Glory in the 2010 Newport to Bermuda Race, which left on June 18. Five days later we arrived in Bermuda, and to our extreme pleasure, won our class! I have never felt so on top of the world as I do at the conclusion of this Ocean Racing season. After last season and the fallout that occurred, this season could not have gone better for the program. We placed in the top three in all of our races except two, and then we won the Bermuda race! It is such an amazing feeling.

During the five days of racing, I would never have said I would do it again for less than $100 K, but now that it’s finished and I am back in New London, I would do anything to get back on a sailboat. We had such a great crew this summer, and worked together really well from day one. My logistics job was great, as I arranged hotel and dock reservations, made sure vans were available, and made sure we were cleared through Customs to enter Bermuda.

The first half of my summer has been the best thus far as a cadet, and I am excited to see what’s next. I leave for Air Station Elizabeth City, NC, tomorrow morning and following that, I become cadre!

More about Mick.

Ocean Racing Take Two

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring Finally I can say that I am finished with classes, drill instructors, exams, and tests for the whole summer! Ocean Racing has begun once again, and this year’s crew looks to be better than ever. We had our first team sails yesterday and today, and with some great weather we worked really well together. I am really looking forward to the season.

This Wednesday we transit overnight to Stamford, Connecticut in anticipation for the Around Block Island Race that starts on Friday. This will be our first test in a race scenario, as well as in our five-man watch sections as we sail for about 30 hours. This will be a small taste of what to expect on the five-day race to Bermuda from Newport, Rhode Island, later this summer!

My job while racing is to be jib and spinnaker trimmer. I like this job a lot since it allows me to directly contribute to the boats speed, and is a fast-paced, difficult job. It’s great when I learn a new trick or realize how to make the boat go faster for given conditions. My collateral duty for the team is that I am one of two logistics officers. We are in charge of making sure reservations are in place, transportation is arranged, and that everything the team needs throughout the season is ready.

Other collateral duties include commissary (food and water), Master-At-Arms (cleanliness), sail master, 1st Lieutenant (boat hardware), navigator, and crew chief. Each boat has a Coast Guard Lieutenant or Lieutenant Commander on board as a safety officer, but the program really allows the cadets to take charge of the boat and make sure things go smoothly.

More about Mick.

Man, That was Tough…Oh, Wait

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring The end of the school year has finally come! 4 semesters down, 4 to go! It has been a long time coming, and it certainly took a long time to finish the last few weeks, but I can safely say I am half way finished with my cadet career. Finals were outrageous and the study to Xbox ratio slowly changed from more of the former to more of the latter throughout the week. But I prevailed and ended up having my best semester thus far.

Just when I was ready to take a deep breath and relax for a minute after another long school year, however, my classmates and I quickly realized we were not going to be relaxing anytime soon. My last final ended at 1600 on Friday, and on Sunday afternoon at 1500, the Cape May Company Commanders (the Coast Guard’s boot camp drill instructors) had us doing push-ups, squats, squaring, and yelling like Swab Summer all over again. Over the following 6 days, we were reminded of what is like to be a swab, but we were also trained by the best in the business on how to be a cadre in just a few weeks. We learned how to teach drill movements, how to incentively train swabs, how to lead calisthenics, and tricks of how to keep our uniforms up to snuff.

Aside from our personal time with the CCs, we also had Leadership and Management School with instructors from the Coast Guard’s Leadership Development Center. Here we learned different types of leadership and decision making in order to prepare ourselves to make that transition from leading self to leading others, which we will be doing come R-Day.

The best part of our 100th week was definitely the Leader Reaction Course that we visited at a local National Guard base. It consisted of 16 different challenges that we completed in teams of four in order to develop our leadership and teamwork, and see where we needed to improve. It was a great time to work with our shipmates in a situation we don’t encounter very often, and was a pleasant change of pace from the classroom taught leadership we usually receive. I hope that we can use this course more often as cadets.

Finally, at the conclusion of the event, we were declared 2/c cadets, and the company commanders awarded us with our new collar devices and the privilege of wearing civilian clothes on liberty! It was another tough week, a new cadet tradition, and was well worth it!

More about Mick.

Rules of the Road

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring This summer has already proven itself to be a very busy one. After a week of leadership class and drill instructor time, I found myself this week in the Rules of the Road (ROTR) course that serves as my five-day immersion into the rules of navigation for inland and international waters. We learned about sound signals, light signals, dayshapes of vessels, and proper ways of handling crossing, meeting, and overtaking situations involving different boats on the water. I had some prior knowledge thanks to ocean racing last summer, but there was still plenty I had to learn.

On top of having class for the entire day, we also had to get ready for commencement on Wednesday. This was not made any easier by a base-wide power outage that lasted all week! I had the wonderful privilege of standing duty in the barracks during the commencement ceremonies, taking care of what needed to be addressed due to the power outage and making sure everyone was where they needed to be. The graduation went without a hitch despite the generators that were needed and the pending rain showers. It was bittersweet, seeing people I had grown to respect and gotten to know pretty well leave the Academy, but knowing that soon I would be doing the same.

After graduation was over, I needed to do some studying for ROTR. Without power, command granted us liberty and we all went to Borders, Panera, or our sponsor parents’ houses in order to get online study guides and to take care of our laundry. Despite the power outages, grad week festivities, and tough course material, my class did very well on the ROTR exam on Friday afternoon.

More about Mick.

Drill Psyched!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring The “dark ages” are finished for the year here at the Coast Guard Academy and that means two things: the school year is almost over, and it’s time to DRILL! Now I have to admit, I am honestly not “drill psyched,” but I couldn’t help but feel a little pride this morning at drill practice. (Drill is what we call marching in formation.) I don’t know what it was exactly, but probably a combination of the parka-less ODU uniform, birds chirping, dew on the grass, light fog rising from the ground, bagpipes marching us in, and the clicking of rifles (what we call “pieces”) and bayonets. There is something about drill that just brings it all together. We march for our parents for Parent’s weekend, the firsties march during graduation week, we march for guests like Sandra Day O’Connor, Admiral Allen, congressmen and women, 50 year alums for Homecoming, and for a myriad of other distinguished guests. It is a show of discipline, pride, and skill that I think can be quite impressive.

I won’t lie, the feelings I had at drill practice this morning are not usual. Drill practice at 0700 usually comes along with long lines at breakfast, a possible late rack taken away, a very grumpy Corps of Cadets and marching in circles until the lines of cadets are straight. All of this has a purpose however, because come Friday afternoon (if the rain we are hoping for fails us), the Corps will march onto the parade field following the drum cadence and bagpipes and will look and sound great as we do it.

More about Mick.

I've Seen Enough

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring As a 2/c cadet, a junior, you are given the opportunity to apply for exchange to another service academy for an entire semester. It’s a pretty neat program, and no one really has a bad experience with it. I really wanted to go to the Naval Academy, not only for a semester of exchange, but for 10 years of my life before I chose to come here. I grew up 15 minutes from there, had seen it for years, and knew I wanted to serve. But then my Mom told me about the Coast Guard Academy and after attending AIM and the USNA Summer Seminar, my mind was made up.

Still, I would love to get a chance to be a midshipman for a semester, living close to home, close to my girlfriend, finally going to the Naval Academy, my childhood dream. I had a very brief glimpse of this a few weeks ago when my entire class drove to Annapolis and stayed there for two days. The midshipmen were great hosts, especially considering how many of us came and on such short notice. But I learned a few things, just in the couple of days I was there:
  • The school is way too big for me. Here at the CGA, everyone knows, has heard of, or knows of every other cadet here, and you certainly know every member of your class. Not so as USNA.
  • The food here beats Navy’s by a long shot. Again due to the small size, meals can be served buffet style here, as opposed to the family style meals at Navy which include microwave burritos.
  • The 4/c here at the CGA are much more disciplined, and the corps as a whole seems better focused on our mission.
I have decided not to apply for exchange, for these reasons and because of personal reasons and scheduling conflicts with my major. I can safely say now more than ever, though, that I have no regrets about my decision to come here over the Naval and Air Force academies.

More about Mick.

Are We Done Yet?

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring As the academic year begins to wind down (there are only five or six weeks of classes left), the course load has wound up considerably. I can safely say that these past two weeks, starting after my return from spring break, have been the toughest weeks at the Academy so far. I think my Dynamics class is mostly to blame. Each homework assignment takes 2 or 3 hours, more than the entire allotted study hour each night.

Amidst all of this homework there are some good signs however, including the release of the finals schedule, more and more information about summer assignments, and the sailing season starting.

Whenever the finals schedule comes out, that means the semester’s end is nearing, and it is great news. I am getting increasingly antsy each day for the school year to end and for the summer to begin. As I approach the midway point of my cadet career, the pressures of school are definitely mounting.

More about Mick.

Too Good to be True

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring The spring sailing season began last week, and was one of the best weeks of sailing I have ever experienced here at the Academy. With record high temperatures around 65 degrees and a nice steady breeze all week, it was a great welcome back to the Thames River. But alas, it was way too good to be true.

The second week of sailing began with no breeze on Monday and a cancelled practice, while Tuesday had minimal breeze and pouring rain. Not ideal conditions. Yesterday made up for it though, as it was blowing about 20 knots with pretty decent puffs out on the river as well. It was a hectic practice with lots of boats and people getting very wet, but was a lot of fun too. I am now convinced that the 26’ Colgates we were sailing are impossible to capsize. Never before yesterday had I ever actually hung vertically from the stanchion as we heeled over so that if I let go, I would have fallen through the cockpit and into the water. It was crazy.

The spring sailing season is pretty light, with only two or three match racing regattas at King’s Point and Annapolis. It only lasts about six weeks, but that’s ok with me because after that, I will be doing Ocean Racing again! Here I come Bermuda…

More about Mick.

Upcoming Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring It’s the second semester, and just like last year, plans are already being made for this coming summer. Summers at the CGA are very different from any normal school. Generally you go home for three weeks, either consecutively or separately. This coming summer is called “2/c Summer,” as it precedes my 2/c year.

The main focus of 2/c summer is making the transition from leading self to leading others. The culmination of this is being cadre for the incoming swabs, for the AIM Program or for the CGA Scholars before they go to prep school. Basically right about now we are all given a “dream sheet” to fill out and request which cadre section we want. There is waterfront, Swab Summer, AIM, and CGA Scholars. I am very eager to be a waterfront cadre, teaching the swabs the basics of sailing and boat handling.

In addition to being cadre, 2/c spend a week learning the “Rules of the Road,” Leadership and Management school, go to the range and get qualified on pistol and rifle, and my favorite, spend a week at an air station as part of the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP). I am totally psyched about CATP, since it’s basically my dream to fly and there is very little exposure to the aviation community here at the Academy. I can’t wait.

I guess a lot of people would cringe at the thought of doing all of this, and staying at school for most of the summer with only three weeks at home, but the summers at the CGA are probably the best part of life here. It’s during the summer that cadets get a chance to go out and work with the “real” operational Coast Guard, and do the cool stuff that we all came here to do once we graduate. It’s a good look toward the future, and certainly a good motivator that keeps the goal in perspective.

More about Mick.

Support Away from Home

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring With the start of a new semester come new challenges. My first challenge this semester is not one I would have ever predicted: the death of my grandfather. After having just seen him while home for Christmas, the decline of his health once I returned here after New Year’s and the notice of his passing came pretty quickly and sooner than expected. Here at the Academy, there is a form called a “special request,” a magical form that can get permission for anything out of the ordinary. In my case, I am asking for special liberty, an extension of my MLK Day weekend, in order to be home with my family during this tough time.

There is no better support system than the chain of command and friends here at the Academy. Everyone is willing to sacrifice something for me, whether it is a few minutes to just talk or a ride back from the airport on a school day. With the large number of cadets surrounding me who have either gone through this experience, or appreciate its difficulty, especially while here, I have been able to deal with this event in my life.

Counselors and chaplains are always available, but sometime a math teacher is all you need to talk to. After all, all of the officers we interact with here are leaders and mentors.

Everyone has a genuine interest in their shipmates here at the Academy; it is sort of a “brotherhood,” (including the females) that bands together because we all know better than anyone else outside the gates about what exactly goes on here. “You will never live so close to so many friends” is how one officer described life at the Academy, and its 100% true.

More about Mick.

December 2009

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring My third semester here at the Academy is coming to a close, and I have never been happier. This semester was really tumultuous (see my November entry) and I am ready to move on and start fresh. One thing I am looking forward to returning to next semester is Jazz Band. The band is on a upswing after a few years with low interest, limited skill, and performance venues, and is making big plans for next semester. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the jazz band “Nitecaps” starting at the Academy, so the plan is to make a celebratory CD. We are also planning on hosting concerts on base, inviting other schools to participate, and we are really looking to broaden our song list.

These changes are largely cadet driven. There is cadet who serves as the leader, and another who is kind of the “executive officer,” and they took it upon themselves to get us together and makes these changes. All of the clubs and extra-curricular activities are cadet ideas, and are cadet run (faculty, staff, and officers serve as advisors). Some clubs are extremely busy and active, like the snowboarding and Toastmasters club, while others meet every once in a while (investment, diversity peer educators, etc.).

Aside from Jazz Band, the Diversity Peer Educators group is anticipating being very active next semester, hosting several speakers and getting the corps together in small group discussion about respect and other pertinent issues. All of this is exciting, but before then I am going home!

More about Mick.

One Poor Decision

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring 1 November

I come to you writing this entry about a topic I haven’t really addressed thus far. This is because up until now, I had not experienced this aspect of cadet life. But, because of some of my actions this summer, I am now in serious trouble and am currently on conduct restriction.

Breaking any of the rules in the Cadet Regulations can lead to “bagging” (an upper-class giving you demerits) or more serious offenses can results in Class II or Class I punishments. These include marching tours, work hours, longer periods of restriction, and various other punishments. Marching tours consist of getting into the drill uniform and marching back and forth in one of the courtyards, or quads, for 50 minutes each. A work hour is manual labor. Other punishments include writing assignments, being taken off the Commandant’s List and losing your silver star, or being disenrolled. I was charged with several Class I offenses in August when I returned to school from my leave period this summer.

A 1/c cadet was placed in charge of the investigation and had to take statements from the 18 of us that were involved and eventually compiled a 96 page investigation report that stated all the facts of the case, his recommendations for how each of us should be punished, our specific charges, all of the statements, interviews and paperwork that was applicable to the case and routed it up to the Commandant of Cadets.

After the investigation was complete, all of us were split into different groups and had to go to a Captain’s Mast. A mast is basically going to the principal’s office in elementary school, except this isn’t elementary school and it’s not the principal: it’s a Captain in the United States Coast Guard who has every right to kick you out for your poor decisions. It was the worst experience I have ever been through. I am now on suspended disenrollment until December 2010, which means I have been given a second chance but if I make any more poor decisions, I am gone. I was assigned 90 marching tours and 20 work hours and 50 days of restriction. I also am not allowed to go home for Thanksgiving. While on restriction, you must attend extra formations, stay in the uniform of the day until 2200 and cannot use dayrooms for leisure, watch movies, or other fun things.

I am lucky to still be here, as was made clear at my Mast. I certainly never planned to get restricted during my cadet career, much less for a Class I offense and for 50 days. I can tell you first hand that it is not something you ever want to experience. Being told that you have been disenrolled is the worst feeling in the entire world, but being given a second chance makes the 90 marching tours, 10 page papers, work hours and days of restriction seem worth the work. If you decide to accept your appointment, know that there are many rules here at the Academy, and that breaking these rules is not tolerated.

Let my story serve as a lesson to anyone who reads this; that a series, or even one poor decision is never worth losing the opportunity that is given to you when you were appointed to the Academy. Please, email me any questions or comments, I would love to speak with you!

More about Mick.

Third Class Life and Responsibilities

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring 1 October

It’s great to be back at school and with all my friends. Coming back as a third class is quite a change in my world. The Academy takes on an entirely new look when not a 4/c; it just seems more fun and since I am used to the military aspect, the trainings, the lingo and the people, it all goes a little smoother.

I actually have had the privilege to host two prospective cadets so far this semester. You can be one of them! The “Cadet for a Day” program is a great opportunity to come and stay at the Academy, see what classes are like, meet cadets, coaches, teachers and officers and to give an admissions interview as part of your application. It’s especially helpful if you did not attend AIM. You can request to stay with someone from your same hometown, or someone that plays your sport. I strongly recommend taking advantage of the program before making a decision about coming here.

The sailing season is again going strong. I think because of my experience this summer during Ocean Racing I am now consistently sailing the big boats every weekend. I even got to go home to Annapolis and surprise my parents! It’s a great example of how you work your way up while you are here. Last year, I only went to one real race, otherwise I practiced on the Colgate 26s. Now, just one year later, I am sailing on 40 foot boats every weekend against local sailors including the Captain of the Eagle!

Sorry I haven’t written in so long! I have been told that third class year is the toughest academically, and I can vouch that it is. I am very busy with a bunch of classes but enjoy them for the most part. I enjoy not taking English and I am actually not taking any straight math courses this semester. I did a neat lab in one of my engineering classes where we took a machine and pulled on a steel bolt until it broke and analyzed all the forces involved. That was the cool part. I then made a 25 page lab report about it. That part wasn’t as fun. But like always, time management really helps and it wasn’t too awful.

19 October

As a third class cadet it is great to have new responsibilities in the company and division. I am in Hotel Company, which is in charge of morale and community service, though I do not do much work involving those things because I am actually the Alpha company liaison to Hotel Company. That means I do Alpha’s job, in Hotel. This includes keeping track of fitness scores, overseeing remedial physical fitness sessions for people who didn’t pass the PFE this semester, weigh-ins and making posters about eating and living healthy.

I have played a large part in celebrating birthdays within the company. I am in charge of monthly drawing for gift cards and distribution of candy and hats periodically at lunch formation. It’s a good way to stay involved.

I have two 4/c in my division that my roommate, who happens to be in my division, and I are in charge of. It is our responsibility to make sure their Academy experience is going well, including making sure their rooms and uniforms look good, keeping tabs on their grades, helping them study or find help, showing them how things work here or just being some comic relief from time to time.

It is important that we help them study and manage their time well because life will be much more difficult if that isn’t accomplished and they don’t learn early how to make things work. Some of the trainings, like Enlisted Professional Military Education (E-PME), which I have mentioned before, are difficult to understand and require a lengthy process to complete. I enjoy helping the fourth class out and teaching them some tricks of the trade while still letting them learn some things for themselves.

Another new responsibility I have is that of Junior Cadet Duty Officer (JCDO). Basically, if you had called the Academy yesterday I would have answered the phone. I am in charge of that, routing calls, making pipes (announcements) for formations and colors and making sure the 4/c duty section is doing their job. It was a very long day but was enjoyable nonetheless.

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At-Sea Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring 27 July

My summer training has finally come to a close, and just like everything else at the Academy, it certainly flew by. I left off somewhere toward the end of Ocean Racing. We finished the season with Block Island Race Week, which was an awesome time. Its five full days of sailboat racing, with hundreds of boats, awards and tent partying every night and the island itself is a great time. The Glory crew earned our first trophy of the season, getting 3rd place in the “around the island race.” Ocean Racing was a great experience where I made a lot of friends and had the most fun I have had at school, while still doing training. Immediately after BIRW, the four 3/c that were Ocean Racing flew to Charleston to meet with Eagle. After a cancelled flight, meal vouchers and an apologetic coupon from Delta Airlines, I made $100 by the end of the day!

Eagle was an interesting experience. It was a lot different than Ocean Racing. The first leg was from Charleston to Boston, a long one of nine days. The weather was very hot but the sailing as great. We actually set full sail for the parade out of Charleston harbor. We did a few parades throughout the six weeks, including a Coast Guard/fireboat escort into Boston and a two-lap parade of sail with almost 40 boats on the way out of Halifax. I learned a lot on Eagle. The six weeks are split up into three training segments, one on deck, on engineering and one support. I missed the support segment due to ocean racing, much to the disappointment of my division, as that segment consisted of mess cooking and cleaning the boat. The engineering segment was very informative, included diagramming all of the boats pipes and systems including the engine room, sewage and potable water systems as well as Damage Control training in fire fighting, de-watering and de-smoking. The segment concluded with a drill where we donned full firefighting equipment and fought a fake fire. This training is important for everyone to know. We actually had a real fire alarm go off while in port in Boston. Luckily there was no fire.

The on deck portion of the training includes watch on deck, which consists of sailing the boat when the rest of the crew is asleep and the work day is over. In addition, we became helm/lookout qualified during this segment. A lot of sign-offs were required. Passing the board (test) required knowing sound signals, light signals, distress signals, what to do in the event of a man overboard, how to respond to rudder commands and how to report sound, visual, and aerial contacts. Steering the ship is more difficult than it seems and being on bow lookout is a great responsibility. We stood an especially vigilant watch between Halifax and Rockland, Maine when fog limited our visibility to 25 yards. Hearing boats around us and seeing what little we could was extremely important in these dangerous conditions.

I am home now, about to leave for a weeklong vacation. I’m hoping time will stop flying by for the next few weeks… Feel free to email me with questions; I still have access to my email! Thanks. Michael.G.Klakring@uscga.edu

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My Summer Has Been an Absolute Blast

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring 16 June

I hope this journal entry finds you all enjoying your summer, or what’s left of it at least. Right now, there are 13 days to go until R-day. For those of you who will be reporting in, best of luck.

As for me, I am here at the Academy for a week for a little break in the ocean racing season. We spent the first week prepping the boats: waxing, washing, buying food and water, loading life rafts and safety equipment, getting sails, running lines and getting the boat fit for sea. After that we transited through the Long Island Sound and docked at the Merchant Marine Academy for a week while we did some racing on that end of the sound. We spent some time in New York City and at one of my teammate’s lake house. It is a great time. If any of you ever get the chance to do it, go for it. We then transited to Annapolis, where I got to see my family. We raced from Annapolis to Newport R.I., and had a great race, finishing 5th in our class.

Distance racing is crazy stuff, unlike anything else. Climbing up on the bow and changing out the sails in 5 to 6 foot seas as we pounded in the waves, in the middle of the night was such an adrenaline rush that I almost got washed off the boat and had waves rushing up my foul weather gear and down my boots. Sleep is broken up by the four hour watch sections, four on four off at night and six on six off during the day. Cooking is a workout as the stove swivels with the rocking of the boat and sleeping on the high side of the boat when we are heeled over is far from comfortable. Showers are replaced by baby wipes and sleeping bags are shared and there is sure to be something that breaks during watch. You are always on your toes and the focus doesn’t stop until you cross the finish line. In this case, it was about 79 hours before that happened. Now we are at school for a few days, getting the boats ready for our final event, Block Island Race Week. Our rivalry with the Naval Academy boats will be evident during the five days of buoy races; it should be a great time.

My summer has been an absolute blast so far, I have added some photos of it. Feel free to Facebook me (Mick Klakring) to see more or to talk or ask questions or whatever.

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Last Entry of the School Year

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring 08APR

This past weekend was a very big milestone for the 4/c. Finally, we all took our boards, the culmination of Coast Guard indoctrination covering about 50 pages of info including nautical flags; light configurations of ships; distress signals; all the facts and figures for every cutter and aircraft; Academy, Coast Guard and Battle history; Coast Guard heroes; as well as other categories. I was able to pass the test, an oral exam of 10 questions.

My 3/c escorted me to a room with a 1/c and two 2/cs in it, where I was inspected while yelling the mission of the Academy. One stutter or screw up is an automatic fail. After that, the yelling stopped and the 10 questions were asked. Unfortunately, only 54% of the class passed, so we do not yet have wardroom carry on.

When all of us do pass, we will get full wardroom carry on: looking at food, talking to one another, sitting back in our chairs. In the mean time, the 4/c was awarded whiteboard privileges this weekend. After our last walk-through/inspection of rooms and common areas, each 4/c room and common area had a grade of above 90%. With that, we can now use the whiteboards that are outside our rooms to write our names and where we are if we leave the barracks after 1900. Up until now, 4/c had to write properly formatted note cards whenever we signed out of the barracks. It seems trivial, but it is one of those things that become a part of life here and means something when it’s changed.

Next week is the “Guardian Challenge” or something like that, our final “hoorah” challenge. I am not sure what to expect, but it kind of serves the same purpose as climbing the Herndon Monument at the Naval Academy, after which plebes are no longer plebes, but upper-class. It’s something to look forward to, and has been a long time coming. It is finally starting to warm up some, we changed back into trops for our dress uniform, which is the short-sleeve dress shirt, as opposed to the long sleeve shirt, tie and jacket we have been wearing. I cannot wait for the summer, Ocean Racing is gonna be great and so is Eagle.

28APR

This is my last journal entry of the school year; it is hard to believe. I have great news though! The class of 2012 earned our privileges this past Friday at drill. Over the course of last week, we completed the first ever “Challenge of the Guardian,” which was based on the Guardian Ethos, and consisted of six challenges that were intended to instill the ethos in our daily lives. Being the first time this was done, it was a little rough around the edges and has room for improvement, but the 2/c put a lot of hard work into it and it was a great culminating event for the year, especially since we got carry on as a result! Even better, after that we had a party for just the 4/c at the Stonington Lodge, a property that the Academy owns across the river, where we had a pig roast, Xbox, pool, an inflatable obstacle course, basketball and were able to just chill.

After that I had a very busy weekend as we hosted a sailing regatta here at the Academy. My crew finished in 6th place out of 12 boats. I added a new picture from this weekend. It was a lot of fun, the weather was perfect. We were towed under the bridge and sailed mainly at the mouth of the river and at one point were pretty much in the Long Island Sound.

Yesterday was probably the last big academic day, for me at least. The only major academic thing I have left, other than finals, is a chemistry exam next Tuesday. After that its finals, moving rooms and getting out of here! Everyone is really excited for the summer, and the weather is finally showing that it is coming. It has been a lot warmer lately and my sponsor family is having a big barbeque for a bunch of us this weekend.

Anyway, best of luck to the incoming swabs, and to those of you who are going to prep school or hope to reapply next year. I hope I was able to make the process and decision making a little easier! Thanks for the emails, feel free to keep sending more.

More about Mick.

Spring Break and Class Formal

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring 18MAR

So last week was spring break, and what a great break it was. I spent the week at home, spending time with my girlfriend who goes to school in Baltimore, seeing my family and relaxing. I bought gear for summer ocean racing, a fairly large investment that should be justified by the awesome experiences I am anticipating having this summer and future summers as well. It was great being home again, but pretty hard saying goodbye, knowing I won’t be back until August. Fortunately between then and now, the school year ends, I become a 3/c and the summer begins. There are only six weeks of classes left and that’s pretty exciting. The biggest obstacle between the 4/c and carry-on is Boards, an indoctrination test with company 1/c asking 10 questions from a 50 page packet of info including ship info, Coast Guard history, nautical flags and everything else there is to know about the Coast Guard. It is a lot to study, and I think a little bit of luck is involved. It will be a relief to get it over with.

I am looking forward to this weekend though, our 4/c formal, where our class crest will be revealed. My girlfriend is coming up for the weekend, we are planning on going out to dinner and spending an afternoon at Foxwoods, a big casino about 15 minutes away, which should be a good time. A few of my friends are staying at a hotel and we have a short the night of the formal, so it will definitely be fun. In the meantime I am in charge of finding ushers for the formal, which is proving more difficult than I anticipated. The corps is less than cooperative and less considerate toward the 4/c as a whole, which is aggravating at times, but we won’t be 4/c much longer, so we have to just let it go.

Anyway, the weather is getting warmer, slowly, and the sailing season starts today, so that’s cool. You all are probably getting close to hearing, or have heard your appointment decision. Congratulations to those who have been accepted, get ready for a tough, rewarding experience. To those still waiting, best of luck!

25MAR

This past weekend was another one of the most fun I have had here at the Academy. Saturday was our 4/c formal, the second I attended this year. Our class crest was unveiled; it is very cool, with CGC Eagle, CGC Bertholf and a bear constellation being its highlights. My girlfriend came up for the weekend and I used one of my longs for getting a star last semester to spend Friday night with her. After the formal, all 4/c had a short on Saturday night. When you get a star, either for military performance, GPA or physical fitness, you get a long to use the following semester. It’s a pretty good deal, as long as you can find a weekend to use it. Anyway, Sunday after the formal I went out with one of my top five shipmates, 4/c Shields and his girlfriend. We went out to Mystic for lunch and also saw the St. Patrick’s Day parade there. It was a lot of fun.

Tomorrow is my first mock boards test. Sometime in April are the real tests, tomorrow’s is about understanding the process and seeing how well we are doing at our memorization. I know the nautical flags, ranks, some history and some other random things, but there is still a lot of stuff to learn.

Sailing started and it’s pretty cold out this week but we have our Coast Guard issue foul weather gear to keep us warm. I know why they call this time of year the dark ages. It is very cold up here, I am wishing I could be sailing in Annapolis where its 60 degrees instead of 35 but I know from experience that summer will be here soon and will be very hot. Enjoy your spring breaks!

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Classes and Summer Assignments

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring 11FEB09

Not much has happened since my last entry, classes have been building up and I am in the midst of the first round of exams. I find that moods generally come in weeks here, I look at my desk calendar and I can see how I am going to feel that week. Like this week, the week of February 9th, I have one quiz, two exams, a paper due and an inspection, in addition to the normal homework load. It can be pretty strenuous. If you manage your time well while here, you will be much better off than the rest of your classmates, and might actually have time to help them out as well. Utilizing the small amount of free time I have has enabled me to stay ahead in my schoolwork, making my life in general less stressful.

Once swab summer ends, the stress and difficulty does not. Aside from bracing up all year, classes are extremely difficult. There are plenty of ways to get help though. For almost every course there are Cadet Academic Assistance Program (CAAP) sessions once a week during the evening training period and instructors are always more than happy to stay after or use their free time for individual appointments. It is up to us as students to take the initiative to seek the extra help instead of giving up. You really do get as much out of everything as you put into them when you are here.

That being said, today a lot of the 4/c stresses are alleviated, because today is 100th day. Every year, 100 days before graduation, the 2/c and 4/c switch roles. Right now I am listening to music out loud, talking across the p-way to my friends and didn’t have to square my breakfast this morning. Granted, we had to “earn” this privilege last night in a ritual called “101st night” but it was well worth it. This day of privilege puts it all into perspective and reminds us that we are almost finished with our first year here at the Academy. It has really flown by.

25FEB09

The summer assignments for soon to be 1/c and 3/c were sent out this past weekend. It is a really exciting time, most of the firsties are spending 12 weeks on a cutter, others are spending six on a cutter, six at an internship, ranging from an air station to headquarters in D.C. to an engineering firm anywhere in the U.S. As for the upcoming 3/c, we all spend six weeks on USCGC Eagle, the other six are spent on a cutter, at a small boat station, in summer school, or in my case, ocean racing. The offshore and dinghy sailing teams take sailors (18 total) to spend one of the summer phases ocean racing on two of the Academy’s boats. Last year the big race was to Bermuda, this year our longest is from Annapolis, Maryland to Newport, Rhode Island. It is pretty exciting; I am looking forward to making some awesome memories and am interested to see what the open ocean does to a forty or so foot boat. As for my Eagle cruise, the second phase begins in Bermuda and we will sail up the east coast through Charleston, Boston, Halifax, Nova Scotia and end up in Rockland, Maine. Then I get to go home!

But before all that happens, we have to finish this semester. This Friday is midterms, when grades come out for the first time this semester. This week and next are really busy for me, an English midterm and paper, a history paper, chemistry exam, calculus exam, SED quizzes on top of normal homework. And this Saturday is the Advancement Qualification Quiz (AQQ), a final exam of knowledge we have been studying all year in order to get us to the equivalent of a lower enlisted member of the Coast Guard. All year, about twice a week, we have been assigned sections to study that have petty officer heritage, managing your checkbook, information about changing of stations, and everything you need to know about being a petty officer in the Coast Guard. It’s all part of the Enlisted Professional Military Education, (E-PME), an initiative by the command staff that will enable us to have the same knowledge of a chief petty officer by time we graduate, making us more practical for the fleet. If all of the 4/c pass the AQQ, we get our first set of privileges awarded. We’ll see.

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A Great Getaway

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring This past weekend I took a little vacation from the Academy, they are called “longs” around here. A long is when you can spend two nights away from the Academy; a “short” is when you get one night away. I had leave from Friday after my last afternoon class until Monday at 1800 because of MLK Jr. Day. I spent the weekend with my girlfriend at her aunt and uncle’s house on Long Island, and we spent Saturday in NYC where we saw The Lion King on Broadway. It was a great time, and a great getaway. I take every opportunity to get away from the Academy for some rest and relaxation; it’s a great stress reliever. I passed on one opportunity last semester and regretted it. It can be as simple as going to your sponsor families house one night or getting a hotel with a bunch of friends and spending two or three days in Boston or NYC, or even flying home to see the family, but getting away is certainly healthy and I think makes time spent here a little more bearable in the long run.

This month, I thought I would write about something surprising I encountered during my first semester here; the opportunities I have had to go out into the “real” Coast Guard as a cadet. During Swab Summer I sailed on Eagle from Los Angeles to San Diego and just last semester I traveled to Coast Guard stations in Cape Cod and Boston. I drove to Air Station Cape Cod with three other cadets and spent Saturday and Sunday on base with officers and enlisted, with real pilots and rescue swimmers, learning about the operational Coast Guard firsthand. Unfortunately, due to weather, I was not able to go on a helicopter flight to do a search and rescue demo on the Hudson River near to the Statue of Liberty. I did, however, get to ride in the Guardian (a small jet) on a fisheries patrol in the bay and around the coast of the Cape. It was a great time, circling low around boats, checking to see if they were allowed in certain fishing areas, seeing seals on the beach and doing a fly by over a small Coast Guard boat we encountered near the Cape.

I went to Boston with my economics teacher and the International Council. I am not in the club, but my teacher invited her students to come along, so I accepted. There we toured Sector Boston, the “911 center” of the Coast Guard in the area, toured a couple cutters and small boats and had liberty in the city. It was another great time. Take every opportunity to learn about the job in which you are interested, because there is always something new and exciting to learn.

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AIM Opened My Eyes

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Michael Klakring I am really excited to be writing for the cadet journal since just one year ago I was reading the journal entries myself, recognizing a cadet from my AIM summer experience and realizing that these are real cadets telling real stories.

I actually applied and was accepted into the Air Force, Naval and Coast Guard Academies, and had the privilege of attending all three summer programs before my senior year of high school. I applied to Coast Guard on a whim; my mom said it was a good idea. I was diehard Navy, having grown up near Annapolis, but AIM opened my eyes to the Coast Guard and I was immediately hooked. The missions, lifestyle and community that the Coast Guard presents are difficult to disregard – the smaller corps, the humanitarian missions, the opportunities for flight school and family-friendly careers that the Coast Guard provides. Eventually the letter came and finally a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I had done it; everything I had been striving for since 2nd grade (when I visited the USS Klakring named after a relative), acceptance into a military Academy, had come true, but this was just the beginning.

My initial advice to you: use the web site to its fullest extent, it is extremely helpful. Take a virtual tour, read alumni stories and learn about the Coast Guard itself. This is a great place to go to school, but it is extremely tough, and without the goal in mind – the commissioning as a Coast Guard officer – it could prove hard to keep it all in perspective. Watch videos, read Coast Guard news, and become acclimated with the community in which you are attempting to immerse yourself because if you are like me, it will only make you more motivated and excited about starting this once-in-a-lifetime experience in which few people get to take part.

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Last Semester!

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It is hard to believe I have already spent three and a half years here, and there are just five short months left until graduation. Coming from two and half weeks of leave, I definitely feel recharged to take on this last semester strong. Of course, I spent a lot time relaxing at home; but, I did definitely take advantage of the warm California sun. I got out on the boat a few days to dive for California spiny lobster, took a trip to Las Vegas, adventured to the mountains in my Jeep, and caught up with friends among other things.

This last semester will, without a doubt, keep me busy to say the least. I have recently assumed the responsibilities of the Golf Company Commander, representing a body of just fewer than 130 cadets and acting as a liaison between the officer command and the company itself. In less than two weeks, I will be interviewed for flight school by a board of four senior pilots. My excitement is only building knowing that where I will spend the next two years of my life will be determined in only two months!

To all the readers, I hope everyone had a wonderful holidays and happy New Year; and I wish the best of luck to all those returning to school for a new semester!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It’s hard to believe there is just three weeks left before the end of the semester. Between school work, sailing, and the other duties that accompany a 1/c cadet, the semester has been a blur. It is surreal knowing that my fourth fall season of offshore sailing has come to an end. We placed fourth in the nation in the Kennedy Cup, which not only was the last regatta of the season but the last big boat regatta of my cadet career. Sailing has been amazing experience in which I’ve gained lifelong memories with my teammates including taking first place in the J44 Class in the 2010 Newport to Bermuda Race.

Aside from schoolwork, anticipation is building for graduation, which is just right around the corner. We will soon be receiving the list of available billets for our class, which are the assignments around the Coast Guard fleet in which we will serve our first two years upon graduation. Of course, flight school is still the number one choice in my mind. Interviews will take place in January!

I wish all readers and their families a very happy Thanksgiving. To all those that have submitted their applications to be part of the class of 2016, I wish you the best of luck!

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School, Sailing, and…Time?!

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd This has been one busy semester! Between sailing and school, it is an understatement to say I have a few things on my plate. With that said, time has seemed to fly. Midterms are over, and Thanksgiving Leave is less than a month away.

While my last year as an undergraduate mechanical engineer thus far has been heavy in regard to workload, there is a definitely a sense of accomplishment with every lab report and project submitted. In addition to completing regular course work, every senior is well underway in making progress on their senior design capstone project. I am working with a group of friends to design and build a wind turbine that can be easily fabricated from recycled materials. The goal is to produce a product that can be built and used by communities and foreign nations that have limited access to power. We plan to have a functional prototype constructed prior to the end of the semester from purchased materials, and will work in the spring to further simplify the turbine and incorporate any recycled materials.

Outside of school, I have been traveling nearly every weekend with the sailing team. Unfortunately, there has been an overarching theme of a lack of wind for the entire season. This has required a lot of focus for the challenging conditions and of course less sailing and more waiting. We are less than two weeks away from the Kennedy Cup, the last regatta of our season and more prominently known as the national championship of collegiate big boat racing. We have a strong team of 6 seniors and 2 juniors and are practicing hard to finish the season strong.

I will keep you updated on how the sailing season comes to a close, how my senior project progresses, and of course, keep you informed of the exciting events of 1/c year. Good luck to any high school seniors currently working to submit their applications for the Academy!

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Welcome Back!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd 1/c year is finally year! It has been a hectic couple weeks; but school is well under way, I have begun work on my yearlong Mechanical Engineering capstone/senior design project, and graduation is just nine months away!

While I am beginning to be tied up with school work and the events of the coming year, it is well worth mentioning the events of my exciting summer. The first half of my summer was spent aboard the CGC Blacktip, an 87 foot patrol boat in Southern California. I learned a lot about operations while on board, and had the chance to participate in several patrols in the waters I grew up in including Catalina Island. One noteworthy experience was a response to a rescue case during a small craft advisory, heading straight into 10 foot seas. The second half of my summer was spent working as an intern in Sandia National Labs in Livermore, California. I had the privilege of taking on an interesting project in the field of homeland security, as well as had the chance to attend several seminars to learn what other exciting projects the lab is undertaking to protect the homeland. Of course, I had plenty of work between the patrol boat and Sandia to stay busy for the summer; but I did get plenty of down time to attend some concerts and a NASCAR race, take a few wakeboarding trips, and spend some time at home in San Pedro.

Following my summer work in California, I got the chance to take a trip I have been looking forward to since I first got here over three years ago – a cross country drive from California to Connecticut. My best friend and I split the 3,000+ miles over the course of six days, making stops including Las Vegas, Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls, and few spots in the desert and mountains for a little off-roading and adventure.

As my final year unfolds, I will keep you updated on the events of 1/c year.

More about Alex.

Spring Break!

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd Midterms and spring break have come and gone. Having had such a good break, it is hard to get back into the swing of things at school; however, there are only six weeks until the start of finals. Besides spending some time at home, I got to experience some of the best California has to offer. The first part of my spring leave was spent snowboarding in Lake Tahoe. There was a lot of snow and little crowds; and as a pleasant bonus, several resorts in the area offer free lift tickets to those in the military. It is always nice to be reminded of all the little “perks” of attending a service academy. The second half of my spring break was spent sailing with the Academy’s Offshore Sailing team in the Los Angeles Harbor Cup. Although we finished the regatta sixth of nine colleges, it was awesome to be sailing again after three months off, not to mention the seventy degree weather and the cheering from my family and friends who watched the race from our personal boat.

Several projects and tests stand between me and the summer, but the time will without a doubt pass by fast. The Class of 2012’s Ring Dance is less than a month away, which is where we will receive our class rings. It is exciting to think that in less than two months, I will be out of school and working on a patrol boat in Southern California for my 1/c summer.

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The Dark Ages…

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd They often call winter here at the Academy the “Dark Ages” because of the short days, cold weather, and the idea that time seems to slow down. It would be understatement to say that we have had a stormy winter; but, without a doubt time has seemed to fly by. In fact, we have yet to have a full week of classes since our return from winter leave because of four snow days from several storms. Of course, it is frustrating for teachers and their lesson plans, but a snow day is definitely a nice break during the week. Growing up in California and never experiencing a snow day until college, I can now say that I experienced more snow days in last month alone than in my entire life put together.

With spring break and midterms less than a month away, summer and 1/c year is not too far over the horizon. In less than a month, my class will be receiving the opportunity to withdraw car loans at incredibly low interest rates. It will be awesome to finally have a car out here. I also found out that I have been accepted for an internship in California for part of the summer, and I will soon find out what Coast Guard cutter I will spend the rest of my summer on. I can’t wait!

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Happy Holidays!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd With school rapping up and the Christmas season drawing near, things have been pretty busy here at the Academy. This semester has really seemed to fly by. Even having returned from Thanksgiving leave just a week ago, winter leave is less than two weeks away.

Thanksgiving was a much needed break to get pumped up for the final two weeks of school. I received just over a week of leave, including a few extra days to spend recruiting at some local high schools in my home town. My Thanksgiving was spent with family and friends at a really good friend’s ranch in Ojai, California. With good company, sunny weather (even if a bit on the cold side), and awesome food, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. It is always great to spend that time with family and realize how many things one has to be thankful for in life.

In the short week since my return, I have worked on a project of some kind nearly every night; however, I am proud to say that I am turning in my last homework assignment of the semester today. Seven tests and an essay stand between me and home, but the nearly three weeks of leave on the other end make it all worth it.

It is amazing how quickly time is passing, considering there are now only three semesters remaining in my time at the Academy. I look forward to next semester, finding out where I will be spending my coming summer working with the Coast Guard, and, of course, buying a car to bring back here next year. I wish any prospective cadets reading good luck in their own schooling and college applications and happy holidays to you and your families! ERE

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Fall Has Come Upon Us…

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It is hard to believe that midterms have come and gone already. It just seems like a few weeks ago that the corps was returning from summer leave and getting settled into the school year, but the signs of fall are finally becoming apparent. The days are getting shorter, the trees are changing colors, the nights are getting crisp, and leaves are beginning to fall. It will not be long until the trees are barren, and I’ll be heading home for Thanksgiving leave.

As I dive deeper into my Mechanical Engineering major, it is safe to say that it is not as difficult to make the transition from summer to the school as it has been in the past. Of course, the workload is challenging, but I am genuinely interested in what my classes have to offer. Even outside my major, performing simulations in the Ship Simulators in Maritime Watch Officer class, has proved to be an incredible learning experience preparing me for 1/c summer.

I know the next month and a half will be tough with assignments beginning to pile up, but Thanksgiving leave is just over five weeks away. In that time, I still have a lot to look forward to. The biggest two sailing regattas of the season are the MacMillan and Kennedy Cups, which are considered the East Coast and National Big Boat sailing championships.

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Summer is Over Already?!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It is hard to believe that I am back at school about to start my third year in college with just 21 months left until graduation. I am looking forward to new classes and what adventures await in the coming year; however, of course my incredible summer experiences are not far from memory!

The beginning of the summer brought us the honor of being able to don a new set of stripes as a 2/c cadet to go along with the privileges of an upper class such as overnight liberty on Saturday nights as well as finally being able to wear civilian clothes again.

The majority of this summer I spent sailing with the Academy’s Summer Ocean Racing Program in which we made a podium finish in nearly every regatta we sailed in on the sailing vessel Glory. Most notably, Glory won her class consisting of nine J44’s in the 635 mile race from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda beating experienced yachtsmen who have sailed the race many times.

At the completion of Ocean Racing, I spent a week at Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina touring the facilities, CG airframes, and even getting some stick time aboard a C130 aircraft. We were even lucky enough to get some time off to go to the beach and explore the Outer Banks.

The last portion of my summer training experience was spent serving as cadre for the incoming class of 2014. My particular job involved working teaching various seamanship skills as well as sailing aboard FJ and 420 sailing dinghies. It was pretty amazing to see teenagers fresh out of high school transition to adults in the military in front of your eyes.

I have great memories from some pretty incredible experiences this past summer. As an upper-class diving further in depth into my mechanical engineering major and with a pretty busy fall sailing season ahead, this year looks to be promising!

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Summer Sailing…A Great Start to the Season!

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd Nearly a month has passed since school ended. Time has been flying by! The Academy’s Summer Ocean Racing Program has been going really well, with less than two weeks until the start of the 635 mile race from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda. Since the start of the season, we have had podium finishes in every race we sailed in aboard the J44, Glory. We earned a second place trophy in our first race taking just under 34 hours to sail a 185 mile round trip from Stamford, Connecticut to Block Island and back. We took home second and third place finishes last Saturday and Sunday respectively in local day races outside of New London. In just a few weeks’ time, the team has really come together as one, where we have taken full advantage of each others’ strengths to overcome many challenges on the water. Toward the end of this week, we will be transiting to Newport for a large three- day regatta next weekend. On Friday, June 18, we will start the culminating race of the summer sailing program to Bermuda. I have gained a lot from my summer experiences thus far, and I am only affirming my appreciation for getting the most out of the unique, incredible experiences the Academy has to offer.

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And the Countdown Begins...

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It’s that time of the year again. The academic school year is coming to a close, and finals are looming just around the corner. Since my return from spring break, life has seemed to move at a hundred miles per hour. In the past week and a half alone, I have taken five tests and completed three projects/presentations. It hasn’t all been bad though; March and April have given us some relatively warm spring weather and some pretty great days of sailing. Last week, we – the Class of 2012 – received the privilege of being able to take overnight liberty on Saturday nights.

Finals are nothing more than a speed bump between now and 2/c summer. Of course, five tests over four days will be a challenge, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a Coast Guard cadet. The summer ahead will be very promising, filled with lots of sailboat racing with the Academy’s Summer Ocean Racing Team, a week spent in an aviation training program in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and three weeks working with the incoming swabs and AIMsters at the waterfront. I can’t wait!

To the high school students reading, I wish you the best of luck on finals of your own. To all those incoming swabs, good luck in R-Day and see you this summer!

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California Sailing

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd This past spring break I received the privilege to sail in a college regatta in the Port of Los Angeles in sunny Southern California. The Harbor Cup, sponsored by Los Angeles Yacht Club, consisted of 10 seven man sailing teams from all over the country extending from Hawaii to Maine. The regatta was a three- day event consisting of 10 individual races. Although we did not do as well as we hoped with a 7th place overall ranking, we sailed our best against nine great teams all finishing within a pretty narrow points margin.

The accommodations for the three days were graciously provided by a host family in the area. In addition to arranging for the fleet of Catalina 37 sailboats for racing, the yacht club put on a banquet for the teams with a guest speaker who was a former winner of the America’s Cup.

Of course, I may be partial to the event as I was sailing ten minutes away from home in the waters where I grew up; however, I would have to say that this one of the most fun and well-run regattas I have competed in. Traveling home to sail in California is just one of the examples of what Coast Guard Academy sailing has to offer.

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Good Ol’ Finals

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It’s that time of year again – the culmination of the academic semester; finals. It is the one time of year where all of your friends at other colleges feel the same way you do: overloaded. Having just completing my last day of classes today, I can honestly say that this past week has not been easy. In the short week and a half since my return from Thanksgiving leave, I have taken four tests and turned in a project in almost every class. As the fall semester of my 3/c year comes to end, I can definitely say that I feel accomplished.

With a day off tomorrow, finals will commence on Friday. I will take five finals in four days, but it will definitely go by fast. With no other obligations than the tests, I will have ample time to study and catch up on sleep. In less than a week, I will be departing my last test to head home for winter leave and some good ol’ rest and relaxation.

Happy Holidays and good luck with any finals you may have on your own!

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Sailing to Success

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It is easy to say the highlight of the fall semester has been my involvement with the Academy’s offshore sailing team. With a series of major collegiate big-boat regattas over the past two months, we were able to end the season on a very high note. From taking second in the J105 class in a regatta in New York to winning the Macmillan Cup (considered the East Coast big boat championship) to our most recent second place finish in the Kennedy Cup (considered the national championship of collegiate offshore sailboat racing), our offshore sailing team did a very good job at establishing credentials as one of the best teams in collegiate big-boat sailing. While the season has come to a close, the spring season and summer sailing are not too far over the horizon.

Looking into the future, I have been recently selected to be a part of the sailing crew who will travel to my hometown of San Pedro, California, to compete in the Harbor Cup over spring break in March. A crew of seven will travel to this 3-day event, where we will hopefully beat the California Maritime Academy, the host of the regatta and the first place finishers of the recent Kennedy Cup.

Go Sailing! Go Bears!

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Fall Semester

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd It’s hard to believe that it is almost Thanksgiving, with finals and winter leave less than one month away. The past month has flown by; I have been busy. With some sort of test every week and a project in nearly every class, I have had a lot on my plate. While this year’s academic workload is much heavier than 4/c year, I am definitely more interested and excited to learn in my more major-oriented classes.

It is easy to say the highlight of the fall semester has been my involvement with the Academy’s offshore sailing team. With a series of major collegiate big boat regattas over the past month, we were able to end the season on a very high note. From taking second in the J105 class in a regatta in New York to winning the Macmillan Cup (considered the East Coast big boat championship) to our most recent second place finish in the Kennedy Cup (considered the national championship of collegiate offshore sailboat racing), our offshore sailing team did a very good job at establishing credentials as one of the best teams in collegiate big boat sailing. While the season has come to a close, the spring season and summer sailing are not too far over the horizon. I look forward to see what next season has in store.

As winter is coming near, I wish the best of luck to high school students in their college applications. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sailing and Schoolwork

(Academics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd 06 October 2009

Whoa! Time sure is flying by quick this semester - nearly six weeks have passed since my return from leave. School has definitely kept me occupied this year. With three labs per week, I think it safe to say I have a fair course load under my belt as I am starting to get into my Mechanical Engineering major-specific classes. Although the workload has been heavy at times, I am definitely learning a lot and have become more interested and excited in my major.

In addition to school, nearly every weekend since school started has been occupied by my involvement with the Academy’s offshore sailing team. I have raced in numerous local events out in the Long Island Sound onboard the Academy’s J120 sailboat, Ricochet, traveled to Annapolis to compete in an intercollegiate big boat regatta at the Naval Academy, and am currently looking forward to racing in a large intercollegiate race just north of New York City this coming weekend.

Between sailing and schoolwork, I haven’t had a whole lot of downtime, but I can definitely come to conclusion that time is going by quick, and my quality of life here is only improving as time passes.

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The Hard Part is Over

(Academics, Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd 18 August 2009

Wow! A lot of time has passed since my last entry. In that time, I spent six weeks aboard the Barque Eagle, three weeks of leave at home, and now I am packing in to begin the new school year.

In all honesty, the living quarters aboard Eagle were a rough transition from the newer 225 foot Juniper class buoy tender in Hawaii; however, my time spent aboard Eagle proved to be a pretty unique experience. We sailed from Bermuda to Charleston, South Carolina, up to Boston, Massachusetts, onto Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then ended in Rockland, Maine. Aside from Boston, all of the port calls were places I had never been. With the knowledge learned during the school year, I was able to get helm and lookout qualified on board in a week. Overall, Eagle was a great learning experience.

My three weeks of leave were awesome. I was able to spend time with family and friends, do plenty of boating, take my Jeep off-roading, go wakeboarding, and do some shooting, among other activities. Of course, leave went by way too fast making it all the more difficult to come back.

However, this year is different. Time is flying. I am an upperclassman now. The hard part is over. My experiences will only get better, and I look forward to what awaits me.

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CGC Kukui

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd 30 May 2009

I am currently writing from my summer assignment on the CGC Kukui in Honolulu, Hawaii. In the three short weeks I have been here, I have experienced numerous unique opportunities. From becoming qualified at the helm of a 225 foot and 2,000 ton ship to being a part of a .50-caliber gun shooting drill in the middle of the Pacific; not a day has passed that I haven’t learned something new and useful.

Immediately after arriving in Hawaii, we headed to sea for a two-week deployment to Johnston Atoll, a small, former military island several hundred miles to the south. On that trip, I was able to be an active part in buoy evolutions working with heavy machinery. (Yes, it is a dirty job.) I learned much about life underway as well as the morale accompanied with it – the crew engaged in a “fish call” while at sea catching enough fish for dinner one night.

While I still have two weeks onboard Kukui before I depart to meet the Eagle in Bermuda, I have learned so much while working side by side with the crew. The incredible experiences I have encountered thus far have only confirmed that I have picked the right service to be in.

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Carry On!!!!!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd 14 April 2009

Only 15 days left of classes! After a very busy past couple of weeks here at the Academy, I am ready to move on to my summer assignments. In the past couple of weeks, the Class of 2012 successfully passed the 4/c boards, been awarded wardroom carry on, and is currently participating in a week-long series of challenges marking the culmination of 4/c year. Additionally, the corps of cadets was visited by the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor.

In other news, the 4/c had a class-wide formal, in which a few of my friends were able to come out from California to accompany a few of my friends here at the Academy to the dance. It was a great time and probably one of the most memorable and exciting events of 4/c year. I was also able to get away from the Academy last weekend for Easter. I got to spend some time with my friend and his family in New York, eat some good food, and rejuvenate myself for the rest of the school year.

That’s it for now. Finals are just around the corner, and 3/c year is a few short weeks away.

21 April 2009

Carry on!!!!!! The Class of 2012 did it! Having completed the culminating event of our 4/c year, The Challenge of the Guardian, we were awarded full carry on privileges by the Commandant of Cadets. 4/c no longer have to march in between classes, we can walk and talk as we please inside of Chase Hall (our living space aboard the Academy), and get to use Facebook again on our computers. It has been a long year, but there is an incredible sense of accomplishment shared by all cadets as the end of the school term draws near.

With just over two weeks left until I put on the 3/c shoulder boards and leave for my summer assignment in Hawaii, only one obstacle stands in the way – finals. I’ll have to step up and hit the books, but I know everything will work out just fine.

I look forward to reporting back what exciting things the summer has in store for me.

*Coast Guard Fun Fact: The Academy’s training ship, Eagle, was taken as a war prize from Germany after WWII.

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Panama City Beach

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd 18 March 2009

Well, it’s the first week back at the Academy after spring break. Yeah, after a week back in the “civilian world,” it is tough to be back at school, but it is encouraging to know that the end of classes and fourth class year is just six weeks away.

I spent my spring break with a few of my good friends from the Academy in Panama City Beach, Florida. It was awesome! We heard performances by Lil Wayne and Kenny Chesney on the beach, met some really cool people, and more than anything got some rest and relaxation under the Florida sun. It was a much needed break from the long Connecticut winter and busy school work.

I’m not going to lie, the rest of the school year is not going to just be a coast downhill, as many obstacles, challenging yet plausible, lay ahead. In a few short weeks, we begin 4th Class Boards, the culmination of our first year at the Academy, which will test us if we are ready to become 3rd class cadets. As soon as the entire Class of 2012 passes, we earn the privileges of an upper-class cadet, rewarding us for our hard work throughout the year.

Nonetheless, I know boards and final exams will come and pass quickly, and before I know it I will be writing from my summer assignment in Hawaii!

Alex Lloyd

*Coast Guard Fun Fact: The Revenue Cutter School, the precursor to the modern Coast Guard Academy, was created in 1876 with a small group of cadets aboard the cutter Dobbin.

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100th Day and Summer Plans

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd 10 February 2009

The light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to come into sight. 101st night and 100th day have just passed. For those unfamiliar with Academy traditions, it is customary for the 4/c cadets to revert to swabs for one night on the 101st day before graduation. The 2/c cadets drill us mentally and physically with indoctrination material that we are required to know to make the leap from 4/c to 3/c this coming May. As a reward, on the 100th day before graduation, the 4/c and 2/c cadets switch shoulder boards for a day, giving 2/c privileges to 4/c (i.e., walking to class with friends, looking at our food, being able to watch movies, use Facebook in our room, aka “be normal” as 4/c Dan Piazza would put it). It was quite a treat watching the 2/c take out our trash, march to class, and square their meals in the wardroom.

Aside from the excitement of 101st night this weekend, the Valentine’s Sweethearts Formal took place on Saturday. While we weren’t required to attend this dance if we attended the Winter Ball, I can honestly say the Academy formals are a great way to blow off some of the stress 4/c year. The food provided is delicious, and the dancing is always fun even if you don’t know any “fancy moves.”

Even if the groundhog saw his shadow this year, the weather seems to be getting warmer with the snow melting and the amount of daylight getting longer. Spring break is just a little over three weeks away and there are less than 80 school days left in the academic year.

*Coast Guard Fun Fact: Two graduates of the Coast Guard Academy are part of the elite club of 250 Americans that have gone to space.

26 February 2009

It’s been quite hectic these past few days with midterms here at the Academy. It seems like there is some kind of large assignment due or test every day for the next week, but spring break is only eight days away. I am going with my roommate to his family’s condo in Panama City, Florida. I can’t wait for a long needed break, a little rest and relaxation, and some sun on the beach.

Aside from a busy school life, the fourth class did catch some excitement this week with the announcement of our summer assignments. At the Academy, 3/c summer is usually divided into a six week voyage on the USCGC Eagle and six weeks aboard a Coast Guard cutter or small boat station to get training in the fleet. Some students spend six weeks aboard Eagle and then six weeks at summer school to get ahead in studies, while a few are assigned on a 12 week voyage aboard a cutter, usually to another country. For my 3/c summer, I will be spending six weeks on the USCGC Kukui, a 225 foot buoy tender out of Honolulu, Hawaii, followed by six weeks on Eagle traveling up the east coast of the U.S., stopping at Bermuda, Charleston, Boston, Nova Scotia, and Rockport. I can’t wait!

I look forward to sharing my spring break experiences and the exciting events that await me as my 4/c year draws to a close.

Alex Lloyd

*Coast Guard Fun Fact: The Coast Guard has been involved in some way with every U.S. armed conflict since its creation in 1790.

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Presidential Inaugural Parade

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd January 12

It has been a busy week here at the Academy, coming back from winter leave and moving rooms, going through the change of command ceremonies, and of course starting classes. While classes as well as homework have started again, I can honestly say I feel relieved to be back in full swing in the normal routine of the day. This semester appears as if it will fly by fast, with many dates and events to look forward to. We have a few long weekends in January and February, spring break is right around the corner in March, and we are that much closer to gaining our upperclassmen privileges toward the end of the semester. While the days of these winter months may be short, dreary, and a little cold for my taste, I am excited for my second semester here at the Academy. I know the end of fourth class year is near, and I can’t wait to find out where I am going to spend my third class summer.

January 22

It is January 22, 2009, one day after my return from marching in the Presidential Inaugural Parade for the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. After nearly two months of early morning once a week marching practices, I can honestly say that I have been rewarded with one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

The Inaugural Parade excursion began at 2200 (10 p.m.), when we left for an all night bus drive south to the Naval Academy. Upon our arrival at Annapolis, each of the 90 cadets chosen for the parade was placed in a room with Navy students of their respective class. It was great opportunity to compare our lives to those of the midshipmen. It is nice to know that there are other teenagers living the same rigid life of an Academy fourth class as I am.

Following a day of liberty to tour the town of Annapolis, we were up at 0200 (2 a.m.) the next morning to make the trek into Washington D.C. before the bridges were closed down. Accompanied by a police escort from Annapolis to D.C., we truly felt as if we were a part of something huge. While the next 12 hours were spent on the bus moving from staging area to staging area and through several security checkpoints, more and more anticipation was built up.

Finally, at nearly 1700 (5 p.m.), the Coast Guard Academy stepped off and the parade for us began. Within 20 minutes, I was cold and tired, but upon making the turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue, all of that disappeared. Hearing the crowds roar: “Go Coast Guard!” made me so proud of my school and service. As we approached the bright spotlight and the President’s viewing stand, I was overtaken by one of the most incredible feelings of my life.

By 1900 (7 p.m.), we were back on the bus and before I knew it, we were pulling into the Academy. Marching in the Inaugural Parade will undoubtedly be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Just seven months ago, I graduated from high school a civilian, not knowing what incredible opportunities the United States Coast Guard Academy would have in store for me.

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In Your Shoes

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Alexander Lloyd With nearly five months of service as a fourth class cadet at the Academy and a positive outlook for my career ahead as a cadet as well as a Coast Guard officer, I hope to provide insight to you or anyone considering applying or coming to the Academy. I have seen firsthand that the Coast Guard Academy is not for everyone, but I hope my words as a cadet journalist can benefit your decision-making process as this program did for me. Having once questioned my decision to attend the Academy, I feel that I have been in your shoes as a prospective cadet. I can honestly say that I have no regrets in my decision. In the short time I have been here, I have been pushed mentally and physically beyond what I thought I was capable of. I spent four days at sea on America’s largest tall ship, the USCGC Eagle, drilled in front of the Commandant of the Coast Guard, been instructed by a former astronaut, and selected to march in the Presidential Inauguration in January among many other things. I hope you follow my journey here as a cadet, and I hope I can be of value in making your decision to apply to the Academy.

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