NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The sound of clippers buzzing fills a room in the basement of Chase Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. In the hallway, cadres yell orders at the brand new cadets who line up and try to stare straight ahead ‘at the boat’ trying not to be distracted.
297 new cadets arrived on what used to be called ‘Reporting-In Day.’ Now, it’s called ‘Day One’ of what will be a 200-week journey toward becoming an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.
It’s also day one of Swab Summer. The 7 weeks of intense training are designed to transform civilian students into military members.
“It’s quite an experience,” said Trent Robledo-Thompson. He’s from New London.
“I’ve always looked up to the Coast Guard being in the community,” said Robledo-Thompson. “They’ve always done a lot for us.”
He is among 26 cadets from Connecticut. More than a third of all the new cadets are women.
“It’s a little nerve wracking,” said Jordan Park who is also local. She’s from Groton.
“It’s hard to hear the commands like when we’re marching because there’s other people screaming at other people to stand off like from behind me and everything like that,” said Park.
Each Swab holds a small blue book called the ‘Running Light.’ It contains things like the mission for the Coast Guard and has to be committed to memory.
The cadets start their career just weeks after President Trump spoke at graduation in May.
“I was pretty excited that the rotation got messed up for that otherwise we would have gotten probably the vice president or secretary of state,” said Robledo-Thompson.
If the four year rotation among military academies stays on track now these cadets will hear from the President at their graduation in 2021.
“That feels so far away right now like I”m just trying to get through today and then the summer,” said Park.
During the Swearing-In Ceremony, the cadets took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. After that and a class photo is taken, they are given ten minutes to say good-bye to their families.
They won’t be able to see or talk to them again until Labor Day.