As commencement nears at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, first class cadets stand at a significant threshold. Behind them lies four years of demanding academics, competitive athletics, meticulous military training and the friendships forged by these common experiences. Ahead of them lies their first duty station in the fleet, a defining assignment full of expectation and promise.
Cadet 1st Class Adam Scalesse will be spending his first tour of duty aboard Coast Guard Cutter Orcas, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Coos Bay, Ore., where he will serve as one of only three officers aboard, carrying out a variety of Coast Guard missions.
“I’m excited to be a part of a tight-knit group of hard workers and experts in what they do,” said Scalesse, who hopes to eventually become a Coast Guard helicopter pilot.
Scalesse spent his first-class summer assignment at Coast Guard Air Station Miami, an experience which solidified his dream of becoming an aviator.
“I got the opportunity to observe flights, participate in a search-and-rescue mission and get qualified as an operations duty officer,” recalls Scalesse. “For someone like me who aspires to be an aviator in the Coast Guard, that was one of the best experiences I’ve had, as my time at the academy ultimately provided me the opportunity to chase down my dream.”
Scalesse is also an accomplished athlete, achieving the best time for hurdles in the nation in Division III. A three-time All-American in track, Scalesse even broke an academy record for hurdles in 2013.
“From the friends I’ve made to the goals I’ve reached, it has truly been one of my favorite things to do at the academy,” said Scalesse. “It will be hard to not be a part of this great team after graduation.”
Of the many lessons learned over a four-year sojourn at the academy, each cadet has a few that stand out. Scalesse was once told ‘as an officer, you can’t have a bad day.’ He considers this one of his most valuable lessons.
“As leaders of an organization, you more or less set the tone for the people who are working for you,” said Scalesse. “You can’t show that you’re having a bad day because then you aren’t as effective at your job, which could affect an entire boat.”
Lessons like these are instrumental in developing the future leadership of the U.S. Coast Guard. The academy focuses on developing the three tenets of academics, athletics and military professionalism in the young men and women who make the campus their home. Scalesse looks forward to putting these principles to work once he graduates and enters the fleet as a newly-commissioned ensign. He leaves a few words for those hoping to get the most out of the Academy experience.
“Get involved with whatever makes you happy,” advises Scalesse. “If you are thinking about doing something, do it. If you never try, you’ll never know.”