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cadet blogs

Summer Experiences

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link
Lukasik Photo “Like moral responsibility, discipline is a word with more than one meaning. Sometimes discipline is used to mean punishment, but the real meaning of discipline can be described by the words ‘right attitude’…”


I’ve held that passage somewhere in the back of my mind since Swab Summer. The Coast Guardsman’s Manual page 212 was a cadre favorite, and we certainly spent enough time holding the book out at arm’s length until our shoulders burned like mad to drill it firmly into our heads. I hadn’t consciously recalled it for the past three years; I never thought I would actually use “discipline” in that context.


This summer, however, I experienced a peculiar sort of déjà vu. I stood on the fantail of a Coast Guard fast response cutter (FRC), holding a blanket spread out at arm’s length, pinning it to the deck by my boots. At our speed of advance of 28 knots, plus a headwind, the blanket acted as a giant kite, and I strained to keep my arms straight and hold it up. On the other side of the makeshift barrier was a female Cuban migrant attempting to take a sea shower on deck after several days at sea. For security reasons, we couldn’t let migrants inside the hull of the ship, so the blanket I held up was her only source of privacy. If I dropped it, I’d have left her exposed in front of all the crew members and migrants living and working on deck. As my muscles started to burn, I reflexively recited page 212 in my head… “The real meaning of discipline can be described by the words ‘right attitude’…” and I realized that however strange the situation seemed, and however much difficulty I was having, I really didn’t mind this job at all.


I split my five-week 1/c summer tour between the USCGC William Flores, an FRC then operating out of Key West, and the USCGC Sitkinak, a 110-foot patrol boat based out of Miami. On both cutters, we spent the majority of our patrols engaged in migrant interdiction. Between the two units, more than 70 migrants crossed our decks in that five-week period.


I was fascinated by the AMIO process, but surprised at first that it held little of the “glamour” or “action” that people like to talk about. Most of our time was not spent chasing non-complaint vessels, or suppressing riots, or pulling drowning victims out of the water. Most of our time was spent with administrative work and ensuring that basic, sanitary living conditions were maintained for our guests while they were onboard: identifying individuals, finding out where they came from, translating, providing them food, showers, clean clothing.


Summer Experiences (Continued) PDF Icon  


More about Jessie.


Summer Break Mode

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo Waxed floors, laundry rooms overflowing, the sound of “Good morning, ma’am,” and the ever-present smell of Lysol wipes are currently my surroundings – time to begin the 2013 fall semester at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.


Although I am physically here, my mind, however, is not. I’m still in summer break mode. The summer of 2013 has been, I’d say, the best summer of my life. Although a summer full of training, sweating in the Caribbean, and driving small boats may not be appeasing to everyone, but I had a blast!


I began my summer spending five weeks aboard USCGC Barque Eagle. We spent a lot of our time learning basic damage control such as putting out fires and stopping floods. Additionally, we stood four-hour watches every day that consisted of learning about the engine room; steering the boat and standing lookout; climbing up the rigging and furling sails; and using nautical charts. We had four amazing port calls during our phase which included Saint Maarten, Aruba, Guantanamo Bay, and St. Petersburg, Florida. I had a great time during these five weeks and was so grateful for the opportunity the Coast Guard had given me to visit these beautiful places.


The next six weeks of my summer I spent in Coast Guard Station Coos Bay located in Charleston, Oregon. This half of my summer went super quick, but was so busy and exciting! During our time at this small boat station, we had the opportunity to become qualified on the 29-foot "response boat small" or RBS, which took a lot of work but was so worth it in the end. In addition we got communications room qualified, OC pepper sprayed, flew in a Coast Guard helicopter, spent a day aboard the 110-foot USCGC Orcas driving the boat and taking bearings, went hiking on beautiful Oregon trails, and got to do some rescue swimming stuff in case we ever had to pick up someone who was in the water.


I got to spend my last three weeks at home in Pennsylvania enjoying leave. However, I did get to make a trip to Disney World for a week which was the highlight of my summer. :) Despite all of the fun I had this summer, I’m ready to begin another year at the Coast Guard Academy, which thankfully this year does not entail squaring around the building and greeting every person I see. If you have any questions, feel free to email me as always! 


More about Samantha.