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cadet blogs

Autumn Wind and Windjammers

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2015) Permanent link   All Posts
 Justin Sherman Windjammer – a large sailing ship; also: one of its crew; CGA marching band member.

For the past three and a half months, I have been a member of the Academy’s Drum and Bugle Corps (marching band/pep band), Windjammers; and for the past three and a half months, I thought that a “windjammer” was a word created to describe the drum and bugle corps. “Wind” for the bugles and “jammer” for the drums. That is until I was watching television at my sponsor family’s house over Columbus Day weekend; there was a show on about the giant ships of today, and a windjammer was one of them. I should have figured that the name Windjammers was related to something nautical.

I hadn’t been in a marching band in high school, so I was a bit hesitant about joining Windjammers (though I had been telling people that’s what I planned to do when I got to the Academy). I was worried that since I didn’t have any previous marching background, I would be way behind all the other members of the band. Also, Windjammers was going to be a huge time commitment. We were going to practice for two hours (during sports period) every day; we would have to learn and memorize the music, the marching, and the horn movements. As a new 4/c, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle this commitment on top of my schoolwork and other 4/c requirements (i.e. knowing indoc, standing watch). Now that our season is coming to a close, I look back and am so glad that I didn’t quit.

One of the best aspects of being a Windjammer is that the band gets you out of the Academy to some pretty neat places. Band trips are the best: free transportation and lodging, long weekends when there isn’t a holiday, and civies (civilian/regular/non-issued clothes). I can tell you that I’ve mastered the art of sleeping on a bus and of changing in tight spaces.

The band’s travels have included trips to a Chicago concert, the Big E, the Naval Academy, McGill University in Canada, and the New York City Veteran’s Day Parade. With the band I’ve probably had some experiences that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The first week after Swab Summer, I went to a Chicago concert in Massachusetts (and got to wear civies!). A few weeks later, I visited for the first time the Big E, a state fair for several of the New England states. When we were marching in the parade at the fair, I heard one mother say to her children as we passed, “Look, that’s the Coast Guard Academy. You should be so proud.” I felt a whole new sense of pride for the Academy and the Coast Guard.

Our next trip began with an overnight bus ride to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. We stayed with cadets at the Naval Academy that weekend, so I got to experience a bit of what life was like there. After that staying at there, I was so glad that I picked the Coast Guard Academy. The atmosphere of the small school here suits my liking much more than the large one at Annapolis. While at Navy, the band competed against the drum and bugle corps from the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. Even though their D-and-B’s were much larger than ours, the Windjammers still had one of our best performances, receiving the highest score a Windjammers group has earned for the past twenty years. It was kind of a big deal.

At the end of October we went international when we drove to Montreal to play the halftime show for McGill University’s football game. This show was the culminating event of the season; it was the last time we would put this show on the field. After the game, we had liberty in Montreal. We explored the city while we looked for a good place to eat and while the ladies looked for clothing stores with good deals. We learned a little French, and I introduced everyone to Tim Horton’s (apparently Tim Horton’s isn’t as widespread in the U.S. as it is where I’m from).

Our last presentation was probably the most special. We marched in the Veteran’s Day parade in New York City and then walked around the city in uniform for my first Veteran’s Day as a member of the armed forces. The travelling part was fun, too. Our bus broke down, so we had to switch buses on the side of the highway, and we stayed in pretty nice housing at Sector New York.

Yes, this fall has been a whirlwind of activity, and I’ll be sad to see the Windjammers season end. The nice thing about our band being small is that it’s a really tight-knit group of people. I’ll admit, I look forward to having Saturday afternoons off, but I’ll also miss spending time with the other Windjammers as often as I did. Sure, I’ll still see the upper class from Windjammers in the hall and be able to greet them by name even though they aren’t my company, but I already can’t wait for next year!

More about Justin.