Bravo 194 Recruit Journal Week 03

International Maritime Signal Flag Bravo

Bravo 194 Recruit Journal

Formed: January 31, 2017

Graduates: March 24, 2017


This week felt kind if similar to the time I pulled my old Radio Flyer wagon out of the shed as a 17 year old. It was the same old wagon, but the components had sat still for years. The handle had rusted where the paint was chipped, and the bearings were full of stagnant dirt. It took about a minute of rolling it around before it came to life again.


So is the case with us at the end of Week 03. This has been our toughest week so far, and perhaps as a byproduct, also our most productive. We are progressing rapidly through a curriculum that is preparing us in immediately tangible ways for the fleet. Yesterday, for example, we learned about ethical conduct surrounding the exchange of gifts as government employees. This is important because it creates a culture of impartiality and prevents the use of gifts as a tool for political influence. We have also covered the Code of Conduct for prisoners of war, tying basic knots, helmsmanship, watch standing, salutes, and manual of arms. My favorite class by far this week was the survival float class at the gym. We were shown how to use survival wetsuits that are used on small boats in the fleet, which float the swimmer on their back and trap water in an array of large pockets inside the suit, keeping the swimmer (floater?) warm. We then spent about 15 minutes floating around in the pool, individually and in groups, holding hands and lying on our backs, bobbing around like technologically advanced rubber ducklings. Those 15 minutes were appreciated by all of us; it seemed less like a required class and more like Coast Guard themed meditation.


Beyond practical knowledge, and without a doubt most importantly, Bravo’s cohesion as a company has stepped up. It hasn’t been a smooth transition, as  I mentioned before – in particular, yesterday felt like pebbles in a ball bearing. We’re tired of having our butts handed to us because that’s where our heads are, and people in the company have begun to step forward in times, places and scenarios where we are weak.


During a bathroom break yesterday, a shipmate passionately reminded us about the nature of the service we joined – in the context of a round of incentive training where we spent half an hour holding canteens over our heads and repeating, “we have no self discipline!” as loud as possible. The shipmate reminded us that we joined a life saving service, and that the canteen exercise serves more than one purpose. Yes, it’s an incentive to work faster and improve at what we do, but it’s also directly applicable to the fleet. There will be times when some of us are ASTs fishing a 200 pound boater out of stormy waters, and that boater’s life is dependent upon the rescuer clinging onto them until the pain is unbearable – and beyond. Some of us will hold 10 pound rifles on 14 hour watches, observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing to ensure the safety of our crew and the success of the mission. In rescue situations, missing a time objective by even a few seconds could cost a life, and relaying orders too quietly over raging seas might send a crew into operational disarray.


This is why we are doing what we are doing. It’s not senseless punishment – it is training for one of the most honorable – and demanding – careers on Earth.


And I think Bravo is beginning to understand this just a bit better everyday.



Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by a recruit currently involved in Coast Guard basic training. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this Journal do not necessarily reflect those of Training Center Cape May, the U.S. Coast Guard or the federal government and are the sole opinion of the author. Recruit Journals are written by personnel in a high-stress environment with little time, so please excuse grammar and punctuation in the above article. The staff at Training Center Cape May do not edit the journals in any way, so as to ensure authenticity of the content and messages.


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