Got this from the New London Day.
Swab Summer, And The Livin' Isn't So Easy
At Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012 is just starting to shape up
By Jennifer Grogan Published on 7/1/2008
New London - Nicole Black stood at attention, holding a small, navy-blue book in front of her face.
Cadet Second Class Kristyn Grier asked her what she was studying in the Running Light, the book about the Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
”The position of attention, ma'am,” said Black, 17, of Stafford, Va.
”What is the position of attention?” Grier asked.
”You've been studying all day! What is the position of attention?”
”Swab Black is drawing a blank,” Black said.
”Drawing a blank! Drawing a blank! What if I'm driving a boat and I draw a blank? Is that acceptable?” Grier yelled.
”No, ma'am,” Black said with tears in her eyes.
Grier moved down the line and quizzed another “swab” on the mission of the academy.
It was nearing the end of Reporting-In Day on Monday - the traditional start of Swab Summer at the academy - and the hours of in-your-face tactics were taking a toll on the newest members of the academy.
The swabs had been yelled at and ordered around from the moment they stepped off the bus that morning in front of their new home, Chase Hall.
”Move your feet fast!”
”Stop looking around!” senior cadets instructed as 37 members of Golf Company lined up in front of the barracks.
”From now on, you are a direct representation of your family, the Coast Guard Academy, the military and the United States of America,” Second-class cadet Melissa Martinelli told the group. “You will conduct yourself accordingly.”
They could no longer say “I” or “me.” They would refer to themselves by the title “swab” and their last name.
They could no longer dress in civilian clothes. They turned those in, along with their cell phones and iPods. They would wear academy-issued uniforms.
They could no longer do what they wanted, when they wanted. They would ask permission.
”The next seven weeks will change your life,” Second-class cadet Zac Bonheim told Golf Company. “You will grow up. You will mature. My classmates and I will make sure of it.”
The group learned how to “sound off,” with the first person in line calling out “01” up to the last, “37.” One mistake meant they had to start over.
They learned the formal way to greet cadets and officers, and they were expected to remember their leaders' names immediately.
”What about the executive officer? You aren't going to greet the XO?” First-class cadet Colleen Denny yelled as a swab passed First-class cadet Ali Shafovaloff in silence.
”Swab Elliott can't remember her name, ma'am,” said Jasmine Elliott, 19, of Belize.
”It's not that hard,” Denny said. “It's only four syllables.”
Elliott mispronounced “Shafovaloff” and walked away.
Denny and Shafovaloff smiled. The swabs were trying to remember so much that few could recall Shafovaloff's name, and even fewer could pronounce it correctly.
”When they're screaming in your face, it's like, 'Oh man, what did I get myself into?' “ said Alexander Stewart, 18, of Duluth, Minn. “But I've been yelled at before. They're nice people, I'm sure. Deep down inside they must be nice people.”
Swab Summer is an intense, seven-week training program designed to transform civilian students into military recruits.
”We take away everything they had and give them a new identity, or a modified one, so they will do well in the military,” said Denny, the Golf Company commander. “The swabs are responding like most do: total shock and complete confusion.”
They may be swabs at the academy, but the 293 members of the class are a select group; about 2,800 students applied to the academy for the 2012 class. Women make up 27 percent of the class, a 3 percent decrease from last year. Thirteen percent of the new swabs are minorities, a 5 percent decrease.
Swabs were hustled around the academy on the first day to fill out paperwork, pick up uniforms, get haircuts and practice marching. Parents wandered around the grounds, hoping to get a glimpse of their children and the new life they will be leading.
At the end of the day, the Class of 2012 marched onto Washington Parade Field, raised their right hands and swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution.
”It's intense, but it'll be rewarding,” said J. Matthew Hurtt, 18, of Old Lyme. “The prestige that goes with graduating from here follows you long after you graduate. I've always wanted to go to a service academy, to be challenged, to stand out.”
There were tearful goodbyes with family members before the swabs were ordered inside to continue training.
Jacob Conrad, 18, of Acton, Mass., wants to fly rescue helicopters in the Coast Guard. He said the first day at the academy was what he expected, but with “a lot more screaming.”
”If this is the way to earn the right to save lives,” Conrad said, “I'm willing to go through four years of this to earn that right.”
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