Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: First Class Cadet A.J. Read

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin

Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet A.J. Read poses for a photo between Hamilton and Chase Hall at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., April 4, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin.

Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet A.J. Read poses for a photo between Hamilton and Chase Hall at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., April 4, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin.

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

With a family history of law enforcement and military, it is no surprise that First Class Cadet A.J. Read chooses the life of a defender.

For the past four years, Read has defended the Bears on the soccer team as a center back, but this summer he takes defense to a new level as he joins Coast Guard Cyber Command in Washington, D.C.

As a Takoma Park, Maryland, native, Read will also be going home.

“I am very excited to be coming home this summer,” said Read. “I am excited to see my family and friends and start this new chapter in my life.”

Growing up in a suburb of D.C., with two probation officer parents, Read always knew he wanted a life in law enforcement, but it was not until his sophomore year in high school that he really considered the Coast Guard.

While visiting family in New London, Connecticut, Read and his parents toured the Coast Guard campus.

“We were very impressed with the academics at the Academy,” said Ed Read, A.J.’s father. “You do not see the combination of academics and programs like this at other colleges.”

The next year, Read attended Coast Guard Academy Introduction Mission, or AIM program. During AIM, high school students participate in a weeklong program at the Academy that immerses the student is all forms of cadet life.

“After AIM, I came home thinking that I don’t want to go anywhere else for college,” said Read. “I only wanted to go to the Coast Guard Academy and join the Coast Guard.”

With support from his parents, Read met with the Coast Guard Academy men’s soccer head coach, Chris Parsons.

Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet A.J. Read plays against the Mitchell College Mariners at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Sept. 27, 2017. The Bears won 2-0 against the Mariners. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Paul Duddy.

Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet A.J. Read plays against the Mitchell College Mariners at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Sept. 27, 2017. The Bears won 2-0 against the Mariners. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Paul Duddy.

In 2014, Read joined the Coast Guard Academy and the Bear’s men’s soccer team as their starting center back.

“A.J. was a leader on the field right from the start,” said Parsons. “It is unusual for a fourth classman to take a leadership role in a team at the Academy, but A.J. was comfortable organizing our defense from the first day he walked on the field.”

In soccer, a center-back, also known as a central defender or center-half, defends in the area directly in front of the goal, and tries to prevent opposing players, particularly center-forwards, from scoring.

Center-backs accomplish this by blocking shots, tackling, intercepting passes, contesting headers and marking forwards to discourage the opposing team from passing to them.

Read was the starting center back for the Bears for all four years at the Academy. He started and played all 71 games.

In December, Read was selected to the 2017 College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America NCAA Div. III Men’s Soccer First Team. This team recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.

This was the second straight year that Read earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors as he we was named to the third team his junior year.

His Academy men’s soccer career stats are 12 goals, 26 points, and a .441 shots on goal percentage. He was also voted team captain for his junior and senior years.

“He is well respected by his teammates as they elected him captain both his junior and senior seasons,” said Parsons. “His leadership skills have continued to grow over the last two years as captain and I think he has learned quite a bit about how to communicate with people during this time. There is no question his experiences as a team captain will help him in the Coast Guard when he graduates this spring. He has a bright future ahead of him. Definitely a Coast Guard Academy success story.”

While Read was defending the Bears on the field, his father was in the stands at every home game.

“It has brought me so much joy to watch him play,” said Ed. “I am not looking forward to this fall when I will not be driving to the Academy for his games, however I am looking forward to saving gas money.”

First Class Cadet A.J. Read and his family pose for a photo before a soccer game during Parents Weekend at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in September 2017. Read’s father came to every one of his soccer games at the Academy. Photo by Paul Duddy

First Class Cadet A.J. Read and his family pose for a photo before a soccer game during Parents Weekend at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in September 2017. Read’s father came to every one of his soccer games at the Academy. Photo by Paul Duddy

His first year at the Academy, Read hit the soccer field full speed ahead, however academically he hit a few bumps. Read changed majors twice before finding electrical engineering.

With a bit of engineering experience in high school, Read felt that electrical engineering would be the path for him.

“I feel that electrical engineering is where I belong,” said Read. “I have a passion for it and all that it encompasses, whether it is programing, systems analyst or working with machines.”

It was his passion that led him to the Coast Guard Academy Cyber Team.

“My third year at the Academy I started to get into programming and wanted to join the Cyber Team, but I had to wait until soccer was over.”

After joining the Cyber Team, Read participated in several cyber exercises. He was part of team Ready Player One that took second place at the National Security Agency Cyber Exercise.

This exercise is a three-day competition that challenges cadets and midshipmen of the U.S. service academies in near full-spectrum cyber operations: advancing strategic cyber security through education and training to develop and test their cyber security skills, teamwork, planning, communication, and decision-making.

The NSA Cyber Exercise is not the only competition the team participates in. They travel to different competitions and do many more virtually from their team classroom.

In September, the team took first place in the Hack the Machine competition presented by the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Cyber Warfare.

Right now, the Cyber Team is gearing up to participate in the HackUConn event at the University of Connecticut.

For anyone looking to get into cyber security or cyber defense, Read says, “Do not be afraid to try something new. Join a team and learn something new.”

As for Read, his new cyber adventure will be at Coast Guard Cyber Command as a battle watch captain on the battle bridge where he will be defending the Coast Guard’s cyber operations.

First Class Cadets A.J. Read and Brandon Ledford cheer as they discover that they are headed to Coast Guard Cyber Command in Washington D.C., after graduation during Academy Billet Night, in New London, Conn., March 9, 2018. Photo by Brad Clift

First Class Cadets A.J. Read and Brandon Ledford cheer as they discover that they are headed to Coast Guard Cyber Command in Washington D.C., after graduation during Academy Billet Night, in New London, Conn., March 9, 2018. Photo by Brad Clift

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the by emailing the Social Media team.

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