Welcome Coast Guard Academy Class of 2015

Update: Paragraphs one and six have been updated to reflect that 291 men and women reported for Swab Summer at the Coast Guard Academy on Reporting-In Day.

Swabs form up

Nearly 300 young men and women reported in at the Coast Guard Academy this morning ready to end their civilian lives and become swabs with the hopes of entering the Corps of Cadets as part of the Class of 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.

Written by Lt. j.g. Katherine C. Gaudette.

Early this morning, standing outside the barracks in civilian clothes yet anticipating a career in uniform, 291 men and women prepared to enter the United States Coast Guard Academy as members of the Class of 2015.

Today marks the first day of the seven-week indoctrination training period called Swab Summer. Those who make it through the summer will be welcomed into the Corps of Cadets and begin a four-year journey to become ensigns in the United States Coast Guard.

Female swabs meet with cadre

A group of female swabs meet with one of their cadre. Coast Guard Academy cadre are responsible for guiding the young men and women who report in through Swab Summer and entry into the Corps of Cadets. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.

Reporting-In Day, as it’s called, is full of intensity, stress and strong emotions. In a matter of hours, the incoming swabs are blasted with unfamiliar military jargon, introduced to the vast academy grounds and pushed through the rigors of basic military marching including synchronization, squaring corners and keeping their head and eyes “in the boat.” They are issued the necessary uniform items, receive the infamous military haircut and learn the “right” way to stow their belongings, all whilst receiving resounding guidance and direction from their training cadre.

“I chose to be a cadre because of their (her swab summer cadre) encouragement,” said Cadet Second Class Madeline Blackburn from Lake Orion, Mich. “Things they (my cadre) told me stuck with me as a cadet. As a swab, I wasn’t unenthused but I wasn’t as psyched up as I could have been. My division officer inspired me to do more with my swabs.”

Swab receiving instruction from cadre

A swab receives military instruction from a member of the cadre. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.

As R-Day comes to a close, the swabs will find themselves marching on the parade field in front of family and friends where they will form up and raise their right hand to be sworn in as members of the United States Coast Guard. Tearful goodbyes will follow as loved ones see the swabs off to embark on their journey, transforming them from civilians into military men and women.

Of the 4,543 young men and women who applied to the Coast Guard Academy Class of 2015, 374 received appointments with 291 reporting-in to become a member of the Class of 2015. This is projected to be the most diverse class in the history of the Academy, with 34% of the class made up of underrepresented minorities and 34% of the class being women. There will also be six international cadets joining the class from the Philippines, Republic of Georgia, Tunisia and Antigua.

“We firmly believe in creating and sustaining an organizational climate in which our entire workforce, drawn from the richness of American society, feels valued and able to contribute their utmost to important Coast Guard missions that safeguard and secure our nation and its citizens in an increasingly dynamic, multicultural world,” said Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy. “This year’s reporting class reflects this commitment that is so vital to academic and mission excellence.”

Over the next seven weeks of Swab Summer, the military jargon, academy procedures and idiosyncrasies of a fourth class cadet’s life will become second nature to these swabs. The once overwhelming and seemingly impossible challenges will build strong moral character and kinship only achieved through an experience like Swab Summer. In August, the swabs will reach the first milestone in their career when they begin their first academic year as a Coast Guard Academy cadet.

Best of luck, swabs! Have a great summer.

Swearing in

Swabs take the oath and become members of the United States Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.

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