R-Day 2014: The challenge begins
Posted by LT Katie Braynard, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Written by USCG Auxiliarist Chris Weber
The United States Coast Guard Academy renewed a longstanding tradition Monday, June 30, as 256 U.S. cadets and seven international cadets took part in Reporting-in Day.
Newly minted swabs cycled through drill training, uniform issue and a bevy of administrative procedures before filing into the companies to which they’d been assigned for Swab Summer. After a whirlwind day of administration and military indoctrination, the swabs took their oath before family, friends, and Academy personnel, officially marking the start of Swab Summer.
“I have high expectations that this impressive class of 2018 will develop into extremely capable leaders of character in service of their country and humanity,” said U.S. Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz. “These cadets report in to the Academy representing almost every state and the many different backgrounds that make up our society. Their cadet training will instill in them a commitment to excellence and devotion to duty.”
An intensive seven-week program, Swab Summer prepares students for military and Academy life. Cadet Second Class Ben Chapman, alongside other members of the cadre, will lead swabs through a series of challenging tasks, events and evolutions.
“Our mission is to take young boys and girls, likely straight out of high school, and train them to first become effective followers within the ranks, and then begin the transformation into men and women of the Officer Corps in the United States Armed Forces,” said Chapman. “In order to do that, however, we must challenge the Swabs – physically, mentally and emotionally – and present continual stressful situations which will encourage them to discover the true meaning behind the term ‘teamwork,’ because that is the only way we work in the Coast Guard.”
Of the 256-member Class of 2018, 33 percent are from underrepresented minority groups and 36 percent are female. The incoming class represents 48 states, the highest number of states in at least 20 years.
The U.S. Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Honduras, Gabon, Panama, Thailand and Mexico are also represented. Monday marked the first time the Academy welcomed students from Gabon.
Stateside and abroad, the Class of 2018 boasts a number of high-achieving students, and acceptance to the Academy is solely based on merit. What the Academy lacks in size, it more than makes up with selectivity.
The mix of physical standards and academic rigor attracted some, like Adam Davis of Griswold, Conn. A two-sport commit, Davis will balance football and baseball with plans to major in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.
“It’s going to require a lot of teamwork and that’ll help us get through,” said Davis. “I’d just like to benefit the company and help it succeed.”
While prior military service is not a requirement, Jacob West joins the incoming class with more than a year of service as a fireman aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark, stationed in Miami Beach, Fla.
“I wanted to make a greater change in the Coast Guard than I could on my current level,” West said. “It’ll be four years of college, so a fantastic education. I’ll also get leadership skills and be in a position that will allow me to increase my ability to affect the Coast Guard, effect change and make it a better place.”
For others, the chance to travel motivated the decision to become a cadet. Taylor Ballek plans to study Marine Biology, a difficult task in landlocked Wyoming.
“I love to travel and wanted to go really far away. I’ve always been interested in marine biology and there really isn’t much of that in Wyoming,” Ballek said.
For now, though, future plans and aspirations move to the background, as Swab Summer becomes the primary focus. Cadet Second Class Brandon Newman anticipates a productive session.
“I look forward to being able to guide the Swabs through the transformation from a group of civilian individuals and into a cohesive military unit that will join the Coast Guard Corps of Cadets in seven short weeks,” said Newman.
Following Swab Summer, cadets will complete four years of undergraduate studies, meet physical fitness standards, provide community service and engage in a disciplined military lifestyle. For all involved in the process, the end goal is a competent and proficient corps of officers.
As Reporting-In Day drew to a close, Commandant of Cadets Capt. James McCauley encouraged swabs to realize their worth.
“I want you to recognize that every one of you is capable of succeeding. I don’t want you to forget that. But it is going to take work. Everyone here has a purpose – to best prepare you for commissioned service. If you get down on yourself, don’t give up the ship. Remember the oath you took. Learn to trust your cadre. We all have one mission – to get you ready,” said McCauley. We’re going to challenge you, and rely on you to rise to that challenge.”