1/c Euchler: From the forge to the fleet

This week, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2014 is preparing for commencement. Coast Guard Compass is featuring four academy cadets, each with their own inspiring story. Today we feature our last story, that of of Cadet 1st Class Kristin Euchler.

Cadet 1st Class Kristin Euchler leads the corps of cadets during a regimental review. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

Cadet 1st Class Kristin Euchler leads the corps of cadets during a regimental review. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Rick Brahm.

Imagine the Coast Guard Academy as a forge and the faculty and staff’s job is to guide the cadet’s development, like a blacksmith’s hammer folding steel.

For both the cadets and instructors, it was four years of hard work, perseverance, determined effort and sacrifice. Can you picture these cadets when they first joined the academy, an agglomeration of 18 or more years’ worth of characteristics? Now, can you imagine them after spending four years in the forge that is the academy?

Cadet 1st Class Kristin Euchler. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Brahm.

Cadet 1st Class Kristin Euchler. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Brahm.

Cadet 1st Class Kristin Euchler has been forged into a leader of character, ready to go out in the Coast Guard and finish honing her skills.

Before coming to the academy, Euchler was a valedictorian of her high school class, studied machine technology and participated in her school’s pre-engineering program. She graduated with a 4.28 GPA and had the highest average in her class in every subject for the last three years of high school, according to her hometown newspaper, The North Adams Transcript.

“I really always wanted to join the military and my parents really wanted me to go to college,” said Euchler. “Luckily my high school principal introduced me to the Coast Guard Academy and I was immediately interested, because I am from a small town and the academy is a small, close knit community.”

Life at a military academy is not easy. It was never meant to be. Euchler recalls, first-hand, a situation that required both quick thinking and decision making while under pressure.

“It was during my second class summer. We were doing training on the Leadership 44s and I was the watch captain, which means I oversaw the other classmates on the boat and made all of the decisions pertaining to the transit that day,” Euchler recalled. “I had to coxswain the sailboat into its berth in Newport; the port was very crowded and the berth we were assigned was changed halfway through my approach to the pier. I had to react quickly and direct my shipmates, so that we did not collide with any other boats, all while altering the entire plan for approaching the pier. Despite all the confusion our mooring ended up going very smoothly and I learned a lot about how I react in stressful situations.”

Euchler never stopped striving to be the best she could with her time at the academy. During her second class year, she was selected as a Board of Trustees Honors list member. This list is the most coveted award bestowed at the academy to a cadet.

To be included on the list, cadets must earn three uniform stars for excellence in military, academic and athletic performance during the semester. This means a cadet must simultaneously attain a term grade point average above 3.15, be in the top 25 percent of his or her class in military performance and obtain a score of 270 or higher on the physical fitness examination. Those who make the list are among the top two percent in the rankings of around 1,000 cadets who make up the corps.

“I was honored to be selected for the BOT list four times,” said Euchler. “BOT was never something I strived for; I just wanted to do the best I could and that ended up landing me on the BOT list.”

Not only was Euchler selected for the list, she was also selected to be the regimental commander, the highest ranking cadet at the academy.

“I did not apply for the RC position, I applied for the position of company commander but our captain decided otherwise and wanted to push me even further as a cadet,” said Euchler. “I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but what really ended up selling it for me was the staff that got chosen. The other regimental staff members that were selected were all great people and getting to work with them really made it more exciting for me.”

Kristin Euchler, as a fourth class cadet, poses for a photo in the academy's mechanical engineering power lab. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

Kristin Euchler, as a fourth class cadet, poses for a photo in the academy’s mechanical engineering power lab. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

Looking back on her time at the academy, Euchler said one the biggest lessons she learned was to “not stress out about the things you can’t control.”

Upon graduation, some cadets report to shore units, cutters or flight school. Euchler’s goal when she entered the academy was to attend flight school, but she received orders to the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska. She didn’t let that stop her from still reaching toward her initial goal.

“I am looking forward to being able to assist the cutter Alex Haley in completing its missions and being able to see how my work impacts our service,” Euchler said. “After gaining valuable leadership and underway experience this tour, I would still like to go to flight school and become a Coast Guard aviator.”

Before Euchler walks across the stage to graduate from the academy and begin her career as a Coast Guard officer, she wanted to leave some words of advice for anyone currently at the Academy or someone looking to call the Academy home.

“If it is something you truly want to do then put in the hard work,” said Euchler. “You will see that the benefits far outweigh any costs by tenfold.”

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