Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Swab Summer 2014 for the Class of 2018.

For newest Coast Guard cadets, first day is no picnic

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta and Greg Smith
Published June 30. 2014 11:52AM   Updated July 01. 2014 2:33PM
Sean D. Elliot/The Day
United States Coast Guard Academy Cadets Second Class Aurimas Juodka, left, and Sheila Bertrand get in the face of "swab" Kevin Lennox as Bravo Company finishes at the barber shop and mailroom during R-Day, the reporting-in day that marks the beginning of the 7-week "Swab Summer" for the class of 2018 Monday, June 30, 2014. About 250 prospective cadets, Swabs, start the program designed to indoctrinate them to the military life of the academy and at the end will be accepted into the corps of cadets.

New London — At first glance, the screaming and yelling happening at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Monday seems rough, bordering on cruel. 

But the reality is that military life isn’t easy. It’s not meant to be comfortable. The men and women who will serve their country through the Coast Guard will go through rigorous training that many civilians cannot begin to comprehend. 

And on Monday, the first day for the Class of 2018, also known as reporting-in day, the new students, called “swabs,” got their first glimpse of what the next seven weeks would be like. 

By 3 p.m., they were marching in groups across the front parade field of the academy in cadence with the U.S. Coast Guard Band before a crowd of family and friends. 

Then, Rear Admiral Sandra L. Stosz, the academy superintendent, administered the oath of office. With an “I do” uttered in unison, 263 cadets were sworn in as members of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The final count of fourth-class cadets who took the oath included 256 U.S. citizens and seven international students who are part of an exchange program to promote a spirit of cooperation with foreign governments and their maritime organizations. 

“Welcome to the Coast Guard Academy and the Coast Guard Family,” Stosz said. “The Coast Guard Academy’s motto, ‘The sea yields to knowledge,’ is one of challenge and inspiration. Over the next four years, the Class of 2018 will develop the knowledge and skills needed to achieve proficiency and excellence as they prepare for public service in a challenging maritime domain.” 

Those who survive the summer of training will receive their shoulder boards, marking their formal acceptance into the corps of cadets. 

Cadets also will be mentored by Coast Guard Academy graduates from the Class of 1968, continuing a tradition known as “the link in the chain,” in which past graduates track new cadets and build relationships with them, sharing advice and a historical perspective. 

But when they arrived Monday morning, the aspiring cadets were on their own. 

“Look straight ahead,” shouted Second-Class Cadet Aimee Valencia, who is training swabs in Delta Company. “From now on, there are no more personal pronouns. No more I, me or we.” 

Prior to Valencia’s instructions, the company exited a yellow school bus, followed a blue tape on the floor and ran into the quad at Chase Hall as Cadre members, who will train the cadets, yelled, “Move with purpose,” “Don’t run,” “Don’t look at me.” 

Valencia said she can’t remember her first day, saying it was a “blur” and “stressful.” She said the young men and women will mature by the time their training is over. 

“It’s not about who they were before they came here,” she said. “It’s about who they are going to be. It’s about building them up.” 

Thirty-three percent of the Class of 2018 are from underrepresented minority groups and 37 percent are women. 

The incoming class has the greatest representation of U.S. states — 48 — in at least 20 years. In addition, the class includes members from the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Maldives, Honduras, Gabon, Panama, Thailand and Mexico. 

The swabs cycled through haircuts, uniform issue, drill practice and various types of administrative processing. 

Swab Daria McKenna of Mystic is following in the footsteps of her parents, Tamara and Robert, both graduates of the Coast Guard Academy. 

“There has been a little yelling and that’s to be expected,” McKenna said. “My parents told me what I should expect, so I think that will help. I hope.” 

The Chase Hall barracks rang with the voices of upper-class cadets yelling instructions at the swabs, who had to stay in the center of the hall and square — sharply pivot — around each corner, all while looking straight ahead and greeting people correctly. 

They became quickly acquainted with new terms they needed to know immediately: The floor from now on will be referred to as the deck. What used to be the wall is now the bulkhead. The number five is now “fife” and nine is now “niner.” 

The Cadre members of Echo Company were quick to remind swabs that their past is exactly that. 

“I don’t care if you had perfect SAT scores or (were) captain of every team in high school,” one cadre member screamed. “You are ours now. You will act as a team.” 

The swabs turned over their electronic devices, which were tossed into plastic bags. They will not have access to the outside world. From 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., their lives will be consumed with learning everything about the academy. 

On their first day, they also were expected to read from their manuals, the “Running Light,” and to memorize the Coast Guard’s mission statement. 

First-Class Cadet Drew Ferraro, Echo Company’s commander, said the swabs would be disoriented but, through constant repetition, they would learn the commands and the proper way to address their superiors. 

“This is not about weeding people out,” Ferraro said. “This is about teaching them about military life. It’s different from the civilian world.” 

In a trailer on the quad at Chase Hall, barbers gave buzz cuts to the men. There are no special requests; every haircut is the same. 

Bill Maynard has been giving swabs their first haircuts for 25 years. He tries to lighten the moment, telling to take off his glasses so the young man wouldn’t see the damage being done. 

Maynard says he tries to get them to smile because he knows their first day is stressful. 

“These are wonderful young people to deal with,” he said. “They are pretty excited to be here, except on their first day.” 

Swab Jacob Sorenson of Oakdale was at the cadet store, where he was issued three pair of shoes. His father is a 1988 Coast Guard Academy graduate. 

He said he went to a military prep school last year to prepare for the rigorous training at the academy. But, he acknowledged, “It’s going to be a long seven weeks.”



Blogger ichbinalj said...

DeeGreen said: The Class of 1968 mentoring the Class of 2018? Who came up with this?

"Cadets also will be mentored by Coast Guard Academy graduates from the Class of 1968, continuing a tradition known as “the link in the chain,” in which past graduates track new cadets and build relationships with them, sharing advice and a historical perspective."

Only two Black Men graduated from the CGA Class of 1968, the Honorable Judge London Steverson from Millington, Tennessee and Mr. Kenneth D. Boyd from Leonia, New Jersey. I highly doubt either one of them were contacted for mentoring any of our new cadets (if so, I would be surprised). I think if there's to be this continued tradition called "the link in the chain" at the Academy, I would hope some of those links looked like me.

10:02 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

DavidSaunders said: That's why we do it ourselves!

10:03 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Kenny Boyd has been MIA since about 1970.

10:04 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

I started the "Mentoring" program for potential cadet recruits in 1973. I personally mentored Manson K. Brown. I do not know who extended or adapted the concept to mentoring Academy classes 50 years apart.

10:04 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

DeeGreen said: My mind is still blown by the fact that as per LCDR Marcus Canady, there are 32 Blacks that reported in today at the USCG Academy. The record before then was 28! And those 28 were recruited by our esteemed USCG Black Chronicles member, the Honorary Judge London Steverson (then LT Steverson), and LTJG Bob Thorne (pictured below). They recruited 28 Black Americans into the CG Academy Class of 1978. Their record stood for 36 years! Amazing!

10:13 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Al Ford said: well we might not see it in our lifetime, but when the Honorable Judge set the record at 28, which produced Admiral Brown, we might be witness to our future Commandant.....of course I'm got my fingers crossed for Commander Merchant in the distant future......and of course my Client aka Rob 's baby girl.

10:15 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

SeaWilliams said: This is a huge deal n we need to support every last one of them thru graduation n beyond. Big ups to Marcus Canady Andrea Parker n admissions via AMOT. Dee u are the best for posting this!

10:16 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

StevenLewis said: Wow! We only had 6 report in the class of 2009... 32 makes me feel like someone is starting to listen. Go Bears!

10:17 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

PrideSaunders said: Hey we are on it!!! If you were part of the 32...hold your head up..if you weren't...guess what...the opportunity to support them is still there...thanks for the history notification...I am so glad I feel like I am truly a part of this.

10:18 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

MarcusCanady said: Did we just jump straight to athletics?!?! Haha.... Team effort got them there and a team effort will get them to graduate. Oh, the current Commandant supports our efforts!

10:19 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

LeeStenson said: Amen! Very happy than we have 32 but unless we provide the ones that stay till graduation with support at their first and second units nothing will change. Our numbers are so low at the contrôlled grades that we need a massive support system for the JOs so they will not fall thru the cracks. We are working on rebuilding the Network that our own esteemed Christy Rutherford built and hope to get mentors O4-O6 to support. In my opinion our concentration should be on beefing up OCS /DCOs and CWO to LT grads as the Academy has proved itself to be hostile to the type of change we need right now if we ever hope to be any more than a statistical anomaly in the CG officer corp ranks.

10:20 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

MarcusCanady said to LeeStenson: Lee - we need to beef up all accession sources. Prior to yesterday there was less than 20 AA cadets in the entire corp of cadets. Now it is close to 50 and if we maintain our efforts we can have over 100 in a couple of years. Increase in numbers will decrease the hostility in the Academy environment. We also need to look at maintaining a good number of Academy and OCS staff that is AA as well. One team, one fight.

10:22 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

PrideSanders said: Decreasing hostility is not about numbers. The root cause of hostility goes deeper.

10:24 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

MarcusCanady said: Y'all are crazy, yes the hostility goes deeper but if you go from 20 to 100 it has to decrease. Won't be eliminated but definitely decreased... there is still hostility in America soooo...

10:24 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

GreggFlippins said: Mannnnn hostility aint and I mean aint the word!

10:25 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Admission's Office and their supporters have much to be proud of. They have done a yeoman's job. I applaud you. I pray that history does not repeat itself and that the System has changed just a bit. You may remember that I had 2 big years of recruiting success. The second big class saw a big jump in attrition and fewer graduates 4 years later. My speculation at the time was that was some backlash and the System made a mid-course correction. That is, there were so many AA's in the pipe line that some may have been weeded out, administratively released, or forced to resign for minor reasons that might have been forgiven when there were fewer to nurture and graduate. It appears that we; as a people, nation, Coast Guard, officers in the field, have grown since the 60s and 70s; and, so I am very optimistic about the future of AA CGA graduates and career officers.

10:44 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

MarcusCanady stated that "Prior to yesterday there was less than 20 AA cadets in the entire corp of cadets. Now it is close to 50 and if we maintain our efforts we can have over 100 in a couple of years. " It was around the 40-50 mark of success that I got fired from my job as Chief of Minority Recruiting at CG Hq, and I received a "poor fitness report". In those days success was not a positive thing for your career. The Corps could not accept so many so fast. I had proven that they were out there and that we could get them. Somewhere way up the chain it was decided that I should find something else to do and let Juan Tudala Salas preside over G-PRM3, the Minority Recruiting Section.

10:53 PM  

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