OCS classes learn to honor our service by the manners of their profession

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Co-written by Jennifer Gaudio, Lt. Michael Bell and Eric Alan.

Officer candidates participate in a Coast Guard history course July 15, 2013, at the Coast Guard Museum located at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. The course allows officer candidates to examine artifacts relevant to the historical periods they are currently studying. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.
Officer candidates participate in a Coast Guard history course July 15, 2013, at the Coast Guard Museum located at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. The course allows officer candidates to examine artifacts relevant to the historical periods they are currently studying. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

“Manners of our profession” demand we honor our history, our heritage and those tough lessons learned from tragedy and perseverance.

Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp often speaks about manners of our profession and one of the Coast Guard’s guiding principles, honoring our profession. The manners of our profession, as the Commandant states, are observed, taught and experienced.

Officer candidates discuss the history behind artifacts in a Coast Guard history course July 15, 2013, at the Coast Guard Museum located at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.
Officer candidates discuss the history behind artifacts in a Coast Guard history course July 15, 2013, at the Coast Guard Museum located at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

In keeping with this vision, an opportunity was created to improve on and implement a Coast Guard history course that teaches fundamental basics, valued lessons and our cherished heritage to officer candidates at the Leadership Development Center’s Officer Candidate School.Leveraging its unique location at the Coast Guard Academy, LDC entered into a collaborative effort led by Jennifer Gaudio, currator of the Coast Guard Museum, Eric Alan of the Coast Guard Academy library, and Lt. Mike Bell and Lt. Shawn Simeral from OCS. Collectively, the group has taken Coast Guard history beyond the traditional powerpoint presentation and  transformed the course into an interactive tactile learning experience.

The collaboration started with moving the course from a classroom to the museum itself to include Coast Guard artifacts, redesigning curriculum to stimulate learner retention and using a team teaching approach. The addition of historical artifacts gave future officers a “hands on” approach to the history of the service they will lead into the future.

Officer candidates were able to experience the Coast Guard’s history first-hand, literally, by handling Hopley Yeaton’s musket, Joshua James’ life-saving medals, the USS Sea Cloud’s bell, the ship being the first racially integrated Coast Guard-manned U. S. warship, the “surrender sword” presented to Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the end of World War II, and most significantly, the original Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro.

An officer candidate holds photos from the Coast Guard Museum collection in a Coast Guard history course July 15, 2013, at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.
An officer candidate holds photos from the Coast Guard Museum collection in a Coast Guard history course July 15, 2013, at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

The Coast Guard Academy library also opened their special collections to the officer candidates, offering directed access to unique books and papers reflecting the vast history the Coast Guard is a steward of. These include a letter from President Andrew Jackson authorizing a study which led to the creation of the Coast Guard Academy and unique SPAR scrapbooks containing drawings and photos of the first SPAR officer classes. One striking work is a U.S. Senate record from the Second Session of Congress containing a bill passed on Aug. 3, 1790 and signed into law Aug. 4 that created the Revenue Cutter Service, the forerunner of the modern Coast Guard.

At the end of every class, Bell and Simeral ask the students what will they add to our long and storied history. Each student leaves with a new appreciation of what came before them, knowing they carry the torch of the Coast Guard, honoring our service by the manners of their profession.

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