Swab summer at the Coast Guard Academy officially ended this past Monday. Of the original 295, 278 swabs were still standing and took a small but significant step towards becoming vital members of the corps of cadets as they earned the privilege of wearing their rank at a shoulder board ceremony.
For the class of 2014, the rank they earned was that of the fourth class cadet – a solid navy blue board with a small shield and no stripes. And while shoulder boards have no stripes, the rank marks the beginning of the growing responsibilities the new fourth class cadets must bear as they assimilate into military life.
The wearing of rank insignia is a long-standing tradition in the military. Officer and Enlisted ranks are known and respected across the services. Among many things, rank signifies when to salute as well as when certain courtesies are due. More importantly, a military rank is a symbol of leadership. With each increase in rank, comes an increase in the responsibility of the individual wearing the insignia.
“Now you stand before us as classmates and shipmates, forever bound together by a common experience,” said Capt. John C. O’Connor, commandant of cadets, at the shoulder board ceremony.
In addition to receiving their shoulder boards, the ceremony also marks the official transfer of responsibility and authority from the summer regimental staff to the fall regimental staff who will lead the corps of cadets through the first half of the academic year.
Along with the new weight on their shoulders, the fourth class cadets have a lot to get used to. The official academic year starts with a Convocation that will be held Thursday. In the interim time between the ceremony and Convocation, the new cadets will sign up for classes, attend book issues, hold class meetings, consult with their academic advisors, attend in processing meetings, participate in sports practices and somehow find time for their military duties – and maybe sleep!
Congratulations to the Class of 2014 on your acceptance into the corps of cadets, and best of luck throughout the year!