Day One: New Coast Guard Academy cadets begin 200-week journey

Written by Lt. j.g. Alexis Davis

The Class of 2021 participates in Day One, the start of Swab Summer and the beginning of their 200-week journey to becoming an officer, June 26, 2017.

The Class of 2021 participates in Day One, the start of Swab Summer and the beginning of their 200-week journey to becoming an officer, June 26, 2017.
Swab Summer is an intensive seven-week program, that prepares students for military and Academy life. Cadre, second class cadets in-charge of the swabs training, will lead swabs through a series of challenging tasks, events and evolutions.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm.

On the morning of June 26, 2017, hundreds of people from all over the country were at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, checking event schedules and looking over campus maps. There was a tension in the air and a few anxious looks, which is to be expected. It was Day One.

Day One was previously known as R-Day or Reporting-In Day. The change was made to reinforce the idea that the first day is not just a day to report, but the beginning of a 200-week journey to becoming an officer.

The class of 2021 was comprised of 105 underrepresented minorities, 100 women, 80 whose parents are veterans, 32 with siblings on active duty, and 12 valedictorians. Many of these young men and women have been preparing for this moment since sophomore year of high school; attending summer programs, like the Academy Introductory Mission, to see if this was the right choice for them.

“It’s quite an experience,” said Trent Robledo-Thompson of New London, one of the 296 U.S. cadets and 10 international cadets who arrived to begin their training. “I’ve always looked up to the Coast Guard being in the community. They’ve always done a lot for us.”

 The Class of 2021 participates in Day One, the start of Swab Summer and the beginning of their 200-week journey to becoming an officer, June 36, 2017.

The Class of 2021 participates in Day One, the start of Swab Summer and the beginning of their 200-week journey to becoming an officer, June 36, 2017.
Swab Summer is an intensive seven-week program, that prepares students for military and Academy life. Cadre, second class cadets in-charge of the swabs training, will lead swabs through a series of challenging tasks, events and evolutions.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm.

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.

Swab Summer is an intensive seven-week program that prepares students for military and Academy life. The Cadre, a group of second class cadets in charge of the swabs training, will lead swabs through a series of challenging tasks, events and evolutions.

They will be taught basic 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.

“You have begun a journey together to become a part of the long blue line of Coast Guard officers who for 227 years have worked to provide safety and security and stewardship to our nation and humanity,” said Rear Adm. James Rendon, superintendent of the Academy.

Day One culminates in the Swearing-In ceremony, where cadets recite the oath, take their class picture, and say their final goodbyes to their families. At 3 p.m. the swabs were marched out in front of their families, raised their right hand and recited the oath thousands have sworn before them.

Rendon spoke directly to cadets following the oath. The speech was brief and impactful as he acknowledged the emotions that they might be feeling from, excitement to anxiety, maybe a little fatigue, a little nervousness, maybe even a little doubt, and he told them that was, “OK.”

“As I often say, it’s one thing to take the oath; it’s another thing to live it,” Rendon said. “We are here to help you live it, and live it in the way of our Coast Guard, in the way of our armed forces of this great nation.”

The Coast Guard Academy Class of 2022 swears-in at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., June 26, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Paul Duddy.

The Coast Guard Academy Class of 2022 swears-in at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., June 26, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Paul Duddy.

For the next seven weeks the cadre will dedicate every moment to preparing the swabs for their new life. The swabs will live without social media, long showers and they will not see or speak to their parents again until Labor Day, as they are fully immersed into their new military lifestyle.

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