Swabs on deck: R-Day 2012

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet 2nd Class Luke Taylor instructs a group of swabs Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet 2nd Class Luke Taylor instructs a group of swabs Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

Written by David M. Santos, communications director at U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

On the morning of June 25, hundreds of people from all over the country are at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., checking event schedules and looking over base maps. There is a tension in the air and a few anxious looks, which is to be expected. It’s reporting-in day and the lives of 248 young men and women are about to change – dramatically.

The day marks the start of a 200-week program designed to educate, train and physically prepare young men and women to be leaders of the nation’s smallest armed service. Incoming cadets, referred to as swabs, begin their time here with a intensive training program called Swab Summer.

Bill Maynard cuts the hair of Jordan Converse, 20, of Watertown, N.Y., Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

Bill Maynard cuts the hair of Jordan Converse, 20, of Watertown, N.Y., Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

They will be taught general military skills and learn more about the service while getting a healthy dose of seamanship training and physical conditioning in a program designed to develop self-discipline, military bearing and esprit de corps. In the coming months they will begin classes in a challenging academic environment, be introduced to various other aspects of life at a military academy and transition into the corps of cadets.

Addressing graduates at the institution about a month earlier, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, “You will don many hats as you leave this Academy, because it means a lot to be a member of the Coast Guard. You are rescuers, protectors, first responders, law enforcers, teachers, public servants,” Napolitano said, “In this ever-changing world, the only certainty is that you will be called on to carry out many missions around the globe.”

As the day continues the swabs receive haircuts, uniforms and begin to march in formation under the watchful eyes of an ever present training cadre of upper-class cadets. After the swabs recite the oath of office together as a group on the Washington Parade Field, they are given a few moments to say goodbye to family and friends before the training program begins in earnest.

Swab Benjamin Chapman of Ellsworth, Maine, reads his Running Light book Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

Swab Benjamin Chapman of Ellsworth, Maine, reads his Running Light book Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

The Class of 2016 is made up of approximately 36 percent women and 35 percent underrepresented minorities, the highest percentages of both groups in Academy history. They are also one of the most geographically diverse classes with students representing 49 different states and international students from Rwanda, Maldives, Lithuania and Sri Lanka. “I am very impressed with the caliber of student entering with the Class of 2016,” said Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, academy superintendent. “These young men and women represent bright promise for the future. They have extraordinary potential and we are excited about the journey ahead.”

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet 2nd Class Matt Monahan instructs a group of swabs Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet 2nd Class Matt Monahan instructs a group of swabs Monday, June 25, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.

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  • Psalm46amm

    AHHHH as a volunteer parent, I certainly remember those days.  July 2, 2006 R-Day for
     Lt-JG Michael Hennebery.  I was crushed watching him leave with his company knowing it will be a few months before seeing him again.  Parents, please know that the United States Coast Guard Academy is one of the finest schools around.  Your children are perfectly safe and are allowed to have fun.  Though there will be trying times for the Swabs(soon to be cadets) the end result is a top notch military son or daughter of the United States Coast Guard, with an excellent scholastic educational Bachelors degree. Semper Paradus Cadets……      

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.slavitt Evan Slavitt

    As a parent of a graduate of USCGA, I completely agree with Psalm46amm. It is a great school and it is a challenging school, and it can be a difficult experience (for parents as well as cadets), but there is nothing really like it or the Coast Guard. 

  • Deborah Slavitt

    Likewise, I’m sure!  CGA rules!

  • congress

    You should have at least tried to get a minority into a picture.

  • Clinic HS

    The last picture has a minority in it.  The guy in the middle of the front row is a minority as I talked to him today during processing.

  • Corona Sm26

    congrats to the swabs! so many emotions that day……pride at the forefront. hope it will go fast for all of us

  • Mister Diversity

    They’re there…look again.

  • Rjohn11794

    Minority?  All I saw was Coast Guard Blue!

  • Jamend

    I believe the best qualified should be selected to attend the US Coast Guard Academy and the selection process should be colorblind.

  • Psalm46amm

    I didn’t know the selection process wasn’t colorblind.  In the class of 2010, one of the highest ranking cadet was African-American.  He was there because he EARNED it andn ot because of his race. The colorguard at all the parades I attended were 50/50 and let’s please not forget to remember that women fit into the minority. 

  • Psalm46amm

    I used to work for a major international company and I worked with many many different nationalities and diversities.  I got along with just about everyone but like anyplace, you can’t be friends with all.  I never saw a color barrier between me and my co-workers but every year the company would mandatory have all day meetings to make us all aware that there are minorities within the company.  So it always brought the color/sex differences to everyone’s attention. I told management that we need to just work together as PEOPLE. 

  • Gymjunkie40

    I counted four. You where already closed minded before you even read the article. Its people like you that hold back society.

  • Psalm46amm

    Before anyone begins to argue whether or not the USCGA is not fair to certain diverse personnel, you must first look at ALL the applicants.  How many applicants were minority? How many were not?  And of the numbers of each group I mentioned, what was the percentage accepted?   You are talking about some sort of discrimation before you even know these answers.  You don’t even know whether ALL the minority applicants were accepted or were some turned down?  I DO know many non-minority applicants were turned down.  Listen, it comes down to this….. the USCG needs men and women who would be best qualified to serve in the US Military.  Mentally alert, your high school grades have to be good and you need to be physically fit.  It is a challenging school and once graduated as Ensigns, you need to be physically prepared to meet the demands of the military.  Not everyone meets the qualifications because our borders depend on having the best of the best out there.  The pictures taken are taken of the Cadres instructing their company of swabs.  The swabs line up in order of what the Cadres dictate.  The cameraman is only allowed to take from so many angles.  If you were to look at all the companies of of Swabs, you will be diversity INCLUDING WOMEN.  Semper Paradus Parents…     

  • Guest1

    Really? that’s all you decide to focus on?

  • Jeff T Moore

    I thought uscg represented every human race where its docks are located and prided its organization in diversity, this picture shows the opposite! 

  • Billy Hardin

    WOW….you really should get a life and quit trying to intentionally cause trouble for no reason at all. 

  • BH

    Look into the MORE Program (Minority Officer Recruitment Program) before you make idiotic statements.  Minorities are offered excellent opportunities for advancement at all levels in the USCG.

  • BH

    Disadvantaged?  That’s sad.

  • congress
  • DolphinJRJ

    Woman arent Minorities?  And please tell me How?? You can tell the nationality of all those in the picture??  Did you read their applications? 

  • MK3

    Minorities shouldn’t get in because they are just that, a minority. The best qualified should get in. If that means there are more whites, then so be it. Every class has different ratios of nationalities. I mean who can really say, “I deserve this over you because I am latino or black?” How about show your academic achievements.
     

  • BH

    @df50e3225e86ff02e5b7ac3e6bac4a71:disqus  So how is that the CG’s fault?  The CG has done everything they have been asked to recruit minorities.  I hope you are not saying we should lower the standards for entry to show preferential treatment of one group over another, because that would be extremely racist and unfair towards others who work hard to suceed rather than have things given to them. 

  • guest1

    All said, it is racism to deny ANY applicant who is more qualified due to thier race or gender (including whites). In this day and age, have some drive and integrity, and you can accomplish your goals, instead of taking a posistion from someone else because you are “disadvantaged or a so called minority.

  • Victor Nazarian

    I can only guess who might or might not be a minority cadet from the photos in this article. I try very hard not to judge people by the color of their skin or set of their eyes or style of their hair. I wish more people did the same. When I interface with candidates or potential cadets I focus on their potential most of all. Regardless of all other things I know that each and every one of the cadets that makes it through R Day is capable and has earned the right to prove that they can excel and lead.

    That isn’t to say that there are no injustices in the process of getting into the Academy or in life in general. There may indeed be problems as viewed from one point of view or another but I know this, the ‘kids’ in these photos are going to have the opportunity to make me proud to serve under them, alongside them or simply be a civilian under their protection. We should all give each of them the support they need. Anyone who thinks there is a problem with the system should redouble their efforts to help in a substantive way. Commentary on various on-line forums is probably not the most helpful way to support these cadets nor improve any issues that may stand today.

  • Proud Aunt

    This started out to be a lovely stream; positive, and making parents and families of the new “swabs” know that their loved ones are treated well.  Then it turned into a stream on racisim.  How sad.  I was at Norfolk VA on 9 June to meet the Eagle and see my nephew who is in the Academy. All  I saw were young men and women doing a wonderful job, smiling, and representing the Academy and their country in the best way.  And it looked like a rainbow…all colors and ethnic backgrounds represented.

  • Diana

    I’m sick of this minority thing! Wake up, America, any Academy is about academic abilities, physical training and psychological strength. I had great colleagues who graduated with me and represented an array of minorities. All i saw were my shipmates; those of you who think that minorities are not included in this selection make me sick!

  • Amy McNeil

    I was there all day helping parents locate buildings, fields, and waterfront areas.   The Swabs are in very good hands as I observed first hand the “gentle commands” being discharged by the 2/c cadre to the wide-eyed men and women of the Class of 2016.  After the final goodbyes on Washington Parade Field we watched the Swabs march down Bear Drive, Company by Company, and disappear into the the grounds of the Academy.

  • Cadet_X

    As a minority Cadet at the academy right now I think I can weigh in here and say that the Academy is making an attempt to make the Coast Guard Officer Corps a more diverse place. The reality of the situation is that the past few graduating classes had minority ethnic groups represented in the single digits. Not everybody will agree on the exact configuration of the corps ethnic makeup but I doubt anybody would disagree that military academies need to be representative of america’s diversity because otherwise it perpetuates a cycle of ethnic stagnation. 

  • X Coastie

    I have no problems with the mixture of race or sex in this years class. If you make it, you make it. No preference.
    I do have a problem with the choice of poses for the pictures. The front page picture has all the new cadets holding out their right fist. What is the purpose of putting out the fist while the Senior Cadet walks down the passage way screaming out of his mind in a fanatical fervor?
    This is a poor way to represent the diverse Coast Guard that I know.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LOSQHS44FFSAQRVFZFUUG3IB5E Jim

    The Coast Guard Academy has had a record number of 4/c students dismissed for Honor violations this year. They need to follow the advice of Martin Luther King Jr. and worry more about the content of one’s character than the color of one’s skin.

  • USCoastGuardCook

    How the hell did the discussion turn into “were enough minorities represented” in the incoming class (photos) ?

    Last time I checked there were more women in the United States of America then men, I believe 15% of the population of the United States is black, a little over that are Hispanic, I don’t call that a minority…

    If you want a minority how many of the incoming class are Jews, how many are Mormons, how many are of Japanese origin or American Indian…those are minorities ! 

    We all need to wake up and make sure the best PEOPLE are who get into our Military Academies !!!

  • Anonymous

     I am a female officer in the CG, Academy Class of ’08. I just wanted to state how disappointed I am in what this discussion has turned into. Everything in life is not black and white. Every single person that attends the United States Coast Guard Academy has EARNED the right to be there. And they were selected by the pool of individuals who put in an application to serve their country. I can tell you first hand that the CG is the most diverse organization I have ever encountered. If you don’t see that, then you need to learn what the true meaning of diversity is. Thank you for your support of the Coast Guard, the Academy and the great people that serve our country and protect our freedoms.

  • enl

     “The Class of 2016 is made up of approximately 36 percent women and
    35 percent underrepresented minorities, the highest percentages of both
    groups in Academy history.”
    The Coast Guard really needs the best and brightest, not the most women and minorities. Where are those stats?

  • Entropybaby

    Diversity is more than skin color or ethnic origin. Diversity includes everyone’s individual life experience, disadvantaged OR privileged. That diversity is what counts and what shines through the blue and the haircuts; each individual brings a different and valuable skill set to the Coast Guard based on their ability and experience.  Congrats swabs on the start of your incredible journey.

  • Flotsam_jetsam

    If you don’t know what the picture means, why do you assume it is a poor way to represent the CG?  Unless things have changed, “putting your paw out” is the same as raising your hand.  This could easily be a picture of the cadre asking his new swabs, Who’s excited to be here?!”.  Everyone is.

    These are just snapshots of cadet life at the start of Swab Summer.  They are not supposed to encapsulate the USCG in a few images.  They are not a commentary on social politics and demographics.

    You likely read this article because you were interested in cadets starting their new education, career, and life.  Let’s be excited and supportive, not use their big day as a venue for personal agendas.

    Congratulations 16.  Good luck, and have fun. 

    Semper Paratus

  • danielle

    This is so true…..I hope that one day I can go to the Academy and serve my country! I want to thank everyone that is serving and have served for their country. God Bless and you all are in my prayers

  • DOCHSC

    Well said! The Coast Guard has a job to do, that means we need the Best, I know for a fact that we need to stop trying to make everyone happy, I spent over 26 years on active duty, Times have changed and the way we train our soon to be leaders need to be changed, we can make mangers it is hard to make a Leader, We need to take a god look at all the Service Academies, and the Cookie Cutter mind set.