You asked, the honor graduates for Victor/Whiskey 188 answered

Seaman Recruit Larry McMillian (right) and Seaman Recruit Jess McCulloch were the honor graduates for Coast Guard Recruit Companies Victor and Whiskey 188.

Seaman Recruit Larry McMillian (right) and Seaman Recruit Jess McCulloch were the honor graduates for Coast Guard Recruit Companies Victor and Whiskey 188.

Editor’s note: We took your top five questions for a senior recruit from Facebook and let Seaman Larry McMillian and Seaman Jess McCulloch answer them. McMillian is from Greensboro, N.C., and has orders to the Coast Guard Cutter Campbell in Portsmouth, N.H. McCulloch is from Yorktown, Va., and has orders to Coast Guard Station Annapolis, Md. The honor graduate award is presented to the recruit who has demonstrated the highest level of performance in all facets of basic training for their company.

“What made The Coast Guard so special (vs the other branches) that you decided to join their forces?” – Ms. Kristen Scheibe

Seaman Recruit Larry McMillian: It’s a very small community, and my recruiting station required a 75 ASVAB. I wanted to be part of an elite group of individuals. Plus, a branch with a more than 90% retention rate has to be doing something right.

Seaman Recruit Jess McCulloch: I lived and worked on the water my entire life, and I watched the Coast Guard doing drills in my backyard. It was the best fit and made sense to me. I want to be a part of saving lives, and the Coast Guard does that every day.

“As a recruit nearing the end of boot camp, are you still as passionate about your decision to become a Coast (Guardsman) as you were the day you arrived? – Ms. Angie Kadlubowaski Blaesner

McCulloch: More so now than ever. I’ve learned the ins and outs of what the Coast Guard actually does and how important they are to the safety and security of our Nation. I’m excited to feel like I’m part of a team that carries out some of our country’s most important work every day.

McMillian: Yes. Being a part of an organization with such a rich history, that happens to be our Nation’s most selective armed service, is both a huge responsibility and an incredible honor. The lessons I’ve learned here are not only applicable to service in the Coast Guard, but to my own personal development.

“If you had the chance, what is the one thing you would have done differently?” – Ms. Cindy Trucoup

McMillian: I would’ve curbed my appetite prior to basic training. You’re on a completely different eating schedule here, and that can limit your physical performance – especially when you’re going 19 hours a day. A month out I would’ve gotten up earlier and stayed up later and definitely kept training physically and mentally. I would’ve restricted myself to three meals a day to prepare for the feeling of hunger in between breakfast, lunch and dinner I’ve had here.

McCulloch: I would not have saluted a chief because I got jacked up. I should’ve studied my rates and ranks a lot more a head time. Anyone coming should learn to look, identify, process and THEN speak. I don’t want anyone to get jacked up like I did.

“Was the first week of boot camp what you’d imagined and prepared for?” – Mr. Andy Chen

McCulloch: Physically, yes, but no one can prepare for the stress of being screamed at for 19 hours a day. I remember stepping off the bus and standing in front of Sexton with our bags, and I was shaking like a leaf. I think just about everyone was.

McMillian: Mentally, I had the right mind set. Physically, I wasn’t where I needed to be. I had the physical fitness assessment down, but I was not prepared for the rigorous physical and mental training with such little sleep. That first week was a blur. I can’t even remember meeting my company commanders. It all happened so fast.

“What’s your advice for someone who is prepping for boot camp? Would you say you went prepared Sir?” – Ms. Iris Luis River

McMillian: I would have spent more time mentally training and studying my required knowledge along with my physical training regimen. Nothing will ever prepare you 100 percent, but you have to do as much as you can to prepare before you get here.

McCulloch: I’d spend a lot of time preparing physically as well as mentally. We lost a lot of shipmates because they failed the physical portions of training. This is not the place to get in shape. This is the place to get into better shape or the best shape of your life. If you don’t have to worry about the physical aspect, you have more time to study for the mental aspects of boot camp, which means a lot less stress.

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