From Sea Cadet to Special Ops to Scientist

By Zeeshan Parvez

University of California, Los Angeles

Ph.D., Materials Chemistry

Tillman Scholar

Ever since my youth, I had always wanted to join the military and serve under one of the special operations units in the four branches. Having this goal in the back of my mind through my freshman year of high school, I began actively seeking organizations that could give me relative experience in this field. During an airshow visit, I came across Mr. David Kerwood, the Commanding Officer of NCBC Battalion (in Rhode Island) who informed me about how the USNSCC could facilitate my goal. The main selling point was how the summer trainings could give relative experience in special operations by allowing me to work with the units I sought to join. Ever since that day, I was full throttle with the USNSCC.

During my time in the USNSCC, I learned a great deal from my home unit, NCBC Battalion, and through the summer trainings that I attended. The most influential of these trainings was explosive ordnance disposal, or EOD, school held at NAB Little Creek Virginia. The hardships that we faced and the camaraderie that we developed here was unparalleled. My fondest memory of this training was the free time that we had after a critical evolution, where our small class came together and talked about the day, our lives, and our aspirations in life.

After leaving the USNSCC, I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was selected to become a critical skills operator (CSO) in the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC). During this time, I was assigned to perform foreign internal defense and unconventional warfare missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon completion of my four-year contract, I exited the military to pursue my Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree at Pennsylvania State University. Subsequently, I completed my Master of Energetic Chemistry degree concurrently with a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Rhode Island. Currently, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry at the University of California Los Angeles, with an end goal of starting a business later down the road.

The USNSCC was truly the stepping-stone that launched my career and gave me the ability to handle difficult hardships that I faced in MARSOC and my academic career. It provided me with the ability to adapt to changing situations, regardless of how extreme the change. This allowed me to become a CSO in MARSOC at a very young age; make the transition from military to a difficult STEM field; pursue degrees at opposite ends of the spectrum in chemistry and business concurrently; and the ability to take calculated risks with high stakes.

My advice to cadets who are considering the military and/or college is to make the most of their time in the USNSCC and attend the summer schools that are related to their target fields. If you build a solid foundation now and develop the ability to adapt early, every obstacle in your path will become traversable.

Sea Cadets Make Their Mark as Sea Service Leaders

Master Chief Vincent W. Patton III

“The Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) program was fairly new, at least in the Detroit area, when I joined in September 1969. I stumbled upon it while attending my weekly Boy Scout troop meeting, when our assistant scoutmaster, James Hannan told me that he was also volunteering with the NSCC program. He was a Naval Reservist, drilling at the Broadhead Naval Armory located near downtown Detroit.

Mr. Hannan knew I was interested in the U.S. Navy — no, make that, I was obsessed. My oldest brother, who is eight years older than me, joined the Navy right after high school. At the time, I was 10 years old. My brother has always been my No. 1 role model (still is), so I emulated pretty much everything he had done, and going into the Navy was just another path to follow him. 

He would send me pictures of all the things he was doing in the Navy, and it generated more interest. I couldn’t wait until I graduated from high school in 1972 so I could join up and be like my brother.

All of my friends knew that I was fascinated with the Navy. At my Boy Scout meetings, I talked about it, so it got the interest and ear of Mr. Hannan, who told me about the Naval Sea Cadet Corps and suggested I look into it. I did, and after talking it over with my parents, I quickly joined. I was able to juggle my time with the NSCC and my Boy Scout activities and went on to earn my Eagle Scout rank in December 1969.

While my motive for being part of the NSCC program was all about my brother, after a few months, it soon transformed me into learning a lot about growing up, setting goals, understanding roles and responsibilities, team-building, citizenship, and developing my own sense of core values, which translated to building what I now call my “3Ds” of “Determination, Dedication and Discipline.”

The NSCC program opened up a whole new world for me at age 15. I grew up in a fairly tough neighborhood in inner-city Detroit. I always knew that I wanted something better for myself, as I watched my oldest brother become successful in school, as well as his Navy career. I envisioned myself being just like him. I knew it would be hard work, and I was eager to learn as much as I could from many people. 

The NSCC provided me access to some phenomenal role models, who by their treasured time and patience, taught my fellow cadets and I about the value of learning and how to use it to help others. They also taught me how to think for myself and show me that courage and confidence are key ingredients to building a successful outcome. 

Incidentally, the Broadhead Naval Armory Naval Sea Cadet Corps program later was named in honor of its leader and my former assistant scoutmaster. The NSCC unit is now called the James M. Hannan Division and remains today as a proud and active program supporting the young men and women in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Obviously, as it turned out, I didn’t quite follow my brother’s footsteps, as I ended up in the U.S. Coast Guard — that’s another story. However, I will have to give a lot of credit to the NSCC [for that decision], because I soon learned from my three years of experience with the program how my confidence increased in myself. I found my own voice and developed my own path for success. 

Becoming master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard is evidence that the NSCC program really worked for me. My brother, who himself had a successful Navy career going from enlisted to officer, retir-ing as a captain in 1997, asked me how my life would have been if I did eventually end up in the Navy. I told him: ‘I’d be Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy!’”

Adm. Michael S. Rogers

“Ever since I was a boy I wanted to be a naval officer. I’ve always been an avid reader and a voracious consumer of stories about sailors and the sea. Nothing could deter me from going before the mast, as it were. 

At 13, I joined the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. My family lived in Chicago, an inland city but one with a serious port facility on Lake Michigan, which ocean-going ships can reach by way of the St. Lawrence River. The Sea Cadets, of course, only fueled my excitement about the Navy — from boot camp to swim calls and jumping off the catwalk of one of those very old, very tall hangars at Glenview Naval Air Station in Glencoe.

I found the sailor’s calling to be one of action and adventure. It struck me as not merely a job or even a profession, but as a calling. I studied manuals and took tests like my fellow cadets, but what I really learned was that we were only as good apart as we were together.

My favorite memory is taking an old turboprop Navy transport (I think it was a C-54) up to a two-week exchange program on Vancouver Island, at Esquimalt Navy Base. We sailed aboard a Canadian patrol boat along the coast of British Columbia. It was absolutely beautiful. 

Upon graduating from Auburn University and Navy ROTC there, I was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and spent my first five years as a surface warfare officer watching the Soviet fleet in the last decade of the Cold War. In 1986, I applied for and was accepted to change my specialty in the Navy from surface warfare to cryptology, or signals intelligence. 

I never thought then that I’d be where I am today, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency [NSA]. I had heard a little about NSA, which seemed wrapped in mystery. Cyber Command, of course, did not even exist: “Cyberspace” back in the 1980s was literally something that one read about in science fiction. 

What brought me here was love of country, of service and of the Navy. Throughout my life, those closest to me — my father, my wife — have always said to me, ‘Michael, you love the Navy, and you love going to sea.’ And I do. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to live my dream every day.” 

Master Chief Vincent W. Patton III served as the eighth master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard, retiring in 2002 after 30 years of service. He currently serves on the board of directors of both the Naval Sea Cadets and the U.S. Naval Institute. Adm. Michael S. Rogers retired June 1 after a 37-year career in the Navy. Prior to becoming director of the National Security Agency, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and chief of the Central Security Service on April 3, 2014, he served as commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and commander of the U.S. 10th Fleet.


Meet John Wilson

Q&A with John Wilson

Former Sea Cadet from Bryce Canyon Division, Sherman Oaks, California

Attended the U.S. Naval Academy ('87) and Cornell University ('02)

Currently a Senior Scientist at the University of Virginia

Q: Tell us about your career path after leaving the Sea Cadet program. 

Wilson: After Sea Cadets and high school (James Monroe High School in Sepulveda, California), I attended the U.S. Naval Academy where I majored in Systems Engineering and graduated with the Class of 1987. I spent about five years on active duty in the Navy, including service aboard USS Midway (CV-41) during Operation Desert Storm. After leaving active duty, I worked as an engineer for about three years and then went to Cornell University where I received a Ph.D. in Applied Physics in 2002, specializing in astronomy instrumentation.  Since then, I have worked at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I am currently a Senior Scientist in the Astronomy Department.  After leaving active duty, I also spent another 15 years in the Navy Reserve, mostly in Science and Technology units, and retired as a commander after 20 years of service.

Q: How did you become involved in the Sea Cadet program?  

Wilson: I had become an Eagle Scout at a young age, and I was interested in a new challenge.  Since I had always enjoyed the water, the Sea Cadets seemed like a nice fit.

Q: What do you as an astronomer? 

Wilson: In my current profession as an astronomer, I specialize in building instruments, particularly spectrographs, for telescopes. I particularly enjoy that my niche area sits at the intersection of engineering and science. Not only do I have to be adept at multiple areas of engineering and science, but I need to be a lifelong learner. I really get a lot of joy when astronomers find the instruments that I have worked on, helpful for their research.

Q: What is your favorite Sea Cadet memory?

Wilson: My favorite Sea Cadet memory was my six-month trip aboard the USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4) for Deep Freeze '81-'82 to Antarctica. I was fortunate to be one of two Sea Cadets selected for the voyage which occurred during the middle of my junior year in high school. I essentially worked as a junior enlisted person and rotated through the various departments on the ship, from working with the quartermasters on the bridge to helping scientists core ice in Antarctica to forecasting the weather to tracing pipes in the engine room. It was an amazing opportunity and one of the highlights of my life to this day. We also visited numerous countries throughout the Pacific Rim.  


Q: What impact did USNSCC have on your life? 

Wilson: The Sea Cadets certainly confirmed for me that I loved the sea, enjoyed traveling to new countries and that I should indeed attend the U.S. Naval Academy. Once at the Academy, I was able to take advantage of numerous Sea Cadet experiences to help me feel more comfortable and confident with the rigors of life there, especially during Plebe year and when we had opportunities at sea. Just as importantly, Sea Cadets provided me a lot of early leadership experiences that I have built upon throughout my adult life. Being a good leader, especially amongst peers, is not easy, and requires practice. Lastly, I was extremely fortunate to be mentored by two amazing leaders in the Bryce Canyon Division — Bill Bryan and Gordon Meighan.


Q: Do you have any advice for Sea Cadets considering a military career?

Wilson: Take advantage of all the opportunities the Sea Cadets offer for experiences with different facets of the military so you can learn what military life is like and what a career might entail. Having these experiences under your belt, you can make a more informed decision about going into the military after high school or college.

Q: Any last words on what you learned from the Sea Cadet program?

Wilson: My Sea Cadet experiences introduced me to challenges and opportunities that many young adults don't have the chance to have. Through these experiences, I learned to jump in and participate, keep an open mind, take advantage of opportunities, have confidence, and learn effective leadership skills. These are all important skills to have, regardless of one's profession, that I have honed and used consistently.

Former cadet says the Sea Cadet program changed her life — and now she’s inspiring others

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephanie Horvat, USCG

When I walked into Naval Operations Support Center Harrisburg in January 2007, little did I know how much the Sea Cadets would change my life.

I flourished in the program. I found my inner confidence and developed my leadership skills as I ranked up. I attended as many trainings as I could, from Grayfox to POLA, two Coast Guard trainings and staffing a Recruit Training. My Sea Cadet chief set a high standard and inspired me to be better in my skills and leadership.

When I attended my Coast Guard trainings in July 2009, I fell in love. I loved how they operated and how they saved lives for a living. I was sold. I came back, and all I could talk about was how I wanted to join the Coast Guard.  

I attended more trainings as a midshipman, acting as XO at a few trainings and battalion commander at a few others. I even got an internship at CSPAN just from being in the Sea Cadets.

My experience was invaluable when starting a new unit in Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 2012. Recently, one of my first cadets became a Marine. When he told me how much I meant to him and how he looked up to me, I teared up. To inspire someone like that is indescribable. 

When I went to Coast Guard boot camp in May 2014, I was automatically chosen as a leader. Being in Sea Cadets helped me to know what to expect in Coast Guard boot camp. Because I knew the system, I was able to help my company through the rough parts of boot camp. 

I am still heavily involved in the program. I’m currently stationed in Jonesport, Maine about an hour from Canada. I drive three hours each way to be involved with Sea Cadets. I hope to inspire and teach the cadets like I was inspired. Without the Sea Cadets, I would not be where I am today.

Former Cadet Gives Back to the Program as a Volunteer

By Ensign Joshua Maye, NSCC

Henry E. Mooberry Division, Washington, D.C.

In October 1999, as an 11-year-old League Cadet, I entered into the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps at the historic Washington Navy Yard. I had no idea that after spending seven years in the program as a cadet, I would someday be back as an officer. Having achieved the rank of chief petty officer, it was time to prepare to leave the program and start college in fall 2006. 

While I enjoyed the new adventures of college, in 2008, I re-entered the program to give back to the unit that poured so much into me. It was then that I reentered into the program as the operations officer. While that was fun, in 2012, I became the unit chaplain, since everyone knew I was in seminary and had aspirations to become a military chaplain. Now I am a recruiting officer and it couldn’t be a better fit.

Recruiting for me is not about adding names to the unit roster, but ensuring that both parents and cadets, feel comfortable joining the unit. There have been times when I have suggested prospects look at other units before deciding to join. To me, giving cadets a profound experience is better than just having bodies. Looking back, I could not be more privileged to call the Sea Cadets my family. 

From Sea Cadet to Sailor

By Seaman Grant Bruley, NSCC, Seaman Cierra McCaskill, NSCC, and Seaman Alyssa Vossen, NSCC

Wolverine Divison, Monroe, Mich.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Julia Murphy, USN, is 21-years-old and in the U.S. Navy. She serves aboard USS Blue Ridge as a culinary specialist, responsible for feeding around 200 officers. The mission of USS Blue Ridge is to maintain the peace with Asian countries. Her ship is stationed in Japan, her longest deployments have been three months, and she has been to numerous countries, including Thailand, Australia, South Korea, and the Philippines. To date, her favorite country has been Thailand.

Murphy was in the Naval Sea Cadet Corps for six years and was our unit's first chief petty officer. Her time in the program has helped her prepare for life in the Navy. Her days are around 12 hours long, and she speaks to family every other week. Life aboard the ship is “very noisy.” In the galley, there is the constant banging of pots and pans. Add that to the waves that are either crashing or caressing the side of the ship, depending on the swell of the sea, and the squeaking of the ship as it moves. When the ship is in port, she gets the opportunity to explore the country, catch up on sleep, and enjoy time with friends. She also started to further her education by enrolling at the University of Maryland, studying International Business.  

“Life aboard is hard sometimes. It’s claustrophobic, noisy, and the hours are long, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” says Murphy. “Sea Cadets changed my life, gave me direction, gave me a family, and helped to shape my future.”

Our unit is very proud of Petty Officer Murphy. We believe she is who she is partly because of the USNSCC. Petty Officer Murphy, thank you for your service to the Sea Cadets, the Navy, and the United States. 








Former Sea Cadet from New York Achieves Dream of Being a Navy Civil Engineer

By Lt. Corinne Sims, USN

When I was 14 years old, my brother left for U.S. Navy boot camp. At the time I had no idea what that meant other than my annoying older brother finally left the house. Well, as it turned out, I missed him terribly and when it came time for his graduation, I was beyond excited to see him and hear about the great adventure he was embarking upon. We headed to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, and during our visit I saw some amazing young Sailors marching in formation. I was mesmerized at how they worked together to move as one cohesive unit. It was at that moment I decided to join the U.S. Navy. I wanted to learn how to march and be a part of a team just like I had seen at my brother’s graduation. When we got home I went straight to my brother’s recruiter and told him I wanted to join. Of course, at 14 I was way too young, but he had the next best thing for me. He said, “Try the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets and see how you like it.”  

So I did. I joined the Sea Cadets and never looked back. From the start of my journey with the Sea Cadets, I knew I wanted to be the one standing in front of the division, preparing the team for inspection and leading them through our drill weekends. Of course, you can’t start out being in charge and I quickly realized I had to learn to be a follower before I could be a leader. I diligently listened, observed and learned from everyone in my division — the officers there to guide us, the cadets in charge, and even those who were younger and quick to tell us when we were wrong. At boot camp I learned what it was really like to be a part of a team and to accomplish tasks that could only be completed with everyone’s cooperation.

Being a part of the Sea Cadets also afforded me great opportunities, like taking part in an exchange program with Japanese students, sponsored by a World War II Japanese Kamikaze pilot rescued by one of our ships. We went camping and learned survival and navigation skills. We participated in countless ceremonies, parades, where we were able to thank veterans who sacrificed so much for us and taught us what it really meant to serve. Inspired, I studied hard to complete my correspondence courses and pass the advancement tests. As I earned positions of real responsibility and leadership, I finally became the leading petty officer, standing in front of my division preparing them for inspection. All of these experiences were to prepare me for the real challenge ahead — enlisting in the U.S. Navy.  

When the time came to seriously start talking with the recruiter I was sure of two things: first, I wasn’t ready for college and second, I wanted to be a civil engineer.  In addition to my parents, I brought my Sea Cadet commander (who else would I trust to help me make such a huge decision?) with me to talk to the recruiter about all my options and the best plan to reach my goal. I decided to enlist as a Fire Controlman and went off to boot camp. We hadn’t been there for two days and my Recruit Division Commander came to me and asked if I was a Sea Cadet. Puzzled, I asked her how she knew and she quickly replied, “I can tell by your confidence in leading your shipmates.” It was then I realized how much more of an impact the Sea Cadets had on me. She made me the master-at-arms of the division where I stayed for the duration of boot camp.    

From there things only got better. I graduated in the top of my class from Fire Control School and quickly earned a reputation of being a leader on my ship. I continued to bolster the skills and lessons I learned in Sea Cadets as I studied hard and advanced quickly. Once on shore duty, I decided it was time to pursue my second dream of becoming a civil engineer. I applied for a commissioning program called “Seaman To Admiral-21.” The program allowed selectees to complete their bachelor’s degree free of charge and commission as an Ensign upon completion. I knew the Civil Engineer Corps was the only option for me so I went for it. I was selected, completed my bachelor’s of civil engineering and was commissioned in 2010. My dream had come true. I am a U.S. Navy civil engineer.  

Since commissioning, I have had the opportunity to lead Seabees and coordinate their movements around the world. I went to Afghanistan to teach Afghan leaders how to serve their communities by providing their citizens basic needs like fresh water for consumption, farming techniques and the building of safe housing.  Now, I work on the largest Navy base in the world ensuring the Atlantic fleet receives the best possible service in order to deploy and protect everything we have worked so hard for.  

None of my dreams would have come true if I hadn’t been in the Sea Cadets to learn how to be a part of a team and lead a team. I still have more goals accomplish and milestones to reach, but I know where it started — the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets — and for that I will forever be grateful. 

How Admiral Rogers’ love of the Navy took him from Sea Cadet to Admiral

By Admiral Michael S. Rogers, USN (Ret), Former Commander, U.S. Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency; Chief, Central Security Service

Ever since I was a boy I wanted to be a naval officer. I’ve always been an avid reader and a voracious consumer of stories about sailors and the sea. Nothing could deter me from going before the mast, as it were. 

At 13, I joined the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. My family lived in Chicago, an inland city but one with a serious port facility on Lake Michigan, which ocean-going ships can reach by way of the St. Lawrence River. The Sea Cadets, of course, only fueled my excitement about the Navy — from boot camp to swim calls and jumping off the cat walk of one of those very old, very tall hangars at Glenview Naval Air Station in Glencoe. At a time when the appeal of military service had temporarily reached a low ebb in American society, I found the sailor’s calling to be one of action and adventure. It struck me as not merely a job or even a profession, but as a calling. One was expected to know the fundamentals of seamanship and the basics of one’s trade, of course, but one also had a vocation, even a duty, to learn how to work with one’s shipmates as a member of a crew — a team that gives life to a ship and represents the heart and the brain of that vessel as a fighting force. I studied manuals and took tests like my fellow cadets, but what I really learned was that we were only as good apart as we were together.

My favorite memory is taking an old turbo-prop Navy transport (I think it was a C-54) up to a two-week exchange program on Vancouver Island, at Esquimalt Navy Base. We sailed aboard a Canadian patrol boat along the coast of British Columbia. It was absolutely beautiful. My not-so-favorite memory, but a vivid one nevertheless, was going to Great Lakes for our week of mini-boot camp and living in the recruit barracks. Everything else looks good after boot camp.

Upon graduating from Auburn University and Navy ROTC there, I was commissioned in the US Navy and spent my first five years as a surface warfare officer watching the Soviet fleet in the last decade of the Cold War. In 1986, I applied, and was accepted, to change my specialty in the Navy from surface warfare to cryptology, or signals intelligence. I never thought then that I’d be where I am today, Commander of US Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency. I had heard a little about NSA, which seemed wrapped in mystery. Cyber Command, of course, did not even exist: “cyberspace” back in the 1980s was literally something that one read about in science fiction. What brought me here was love of country, of service, and of the Navy. 

Throughout my life, those closest to me — my father, my wife — have always said to me, “Michael, you love the Navy, and you love going to sea.” And I do. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to live my dream every day. 

Former Sea Cadet Newly Elected As President of the NSCC Alumni Association

By Nathan Rolfe

I knew from the beginning of high school that the military was in my future. Both my grandfather and father served in the Navy during World War II and Vietnam respectively and I felt a strong desire to serve as well. Halfway through my junior year, a friend was telling me about the great weekend he had as part of a military youth program. I was instantly interested and went with him to the next meeting. It was then that I was introduced to the Sea Cadet program and I joined the C.W. Nimitz Squadron out of Arlington Heights, Illinois. The local Recruit Training was at Great Lakes where I got as real of a Navy experience as possible. Just three days after Great Lakes, I was on a plane for San Diego and spending two weeks aboard the USS Fort McHenry. I continued with the Sea Cadets through graduation, participating in several other trainings and receiving an invitation to the National Youth Leadership Council on Security and Defense in Washington, DC. I left the Sea Cadet program as a Petty Officer 2nd Class, but that would not be the end of my involvement.  

I threw most people for a loop and joined the Army instead of the Navy after high school. Despite wearing a different uniform, I was still drawn to the Sea Cadet program. Within just a few months, I contacted a local unit and began drilling as an adult leader. This would be the beginning of 17 years of support as an adult leader, working in nearly every position available within a unit and supporting several advanced trainings around the country.  In 2000, while stationed in Hawaii, I was given my first command of the then Barbers Point Squadron. While my time in Hawaii was somewhat short, it includes one of my favorite memories from the Sea Cadets. In September 2001, only two days before the 9/11 attacks, I had my change of command on the fantail of the USS Missouri.

Like so many others, my military career went in a different direction following the 9/11 attacks.  While transitioning from Hawaii, I was diverted to the DC area for what would be an unusually long assignment. After a year of supporting local units in various ways, I eventually settled down with the Central Maryland Corsairs Squadron at Andrews AFB, and assumed command in January 2003.  My tenure with the Corsairs lasted nine incredible years of challenges and successes, and most importantly, was filled with awesome adult volunteers and many, many cadets of exceptional character.  

I can honestly say that my life and career have been profoundly affected by my participation in the Sea Cadet program. For almost my entire 19 years in the program as a cadet and officer, I have held some sort of leadership position. I cannot say that even of my active duty career. And when the time came for me to assume leadership of Soldiers, I already had several years of experience, and lessons learned, under my belt which I am confident helped me be that much better of a non-commissioned officer in the Army. In an evolving military where the lines between the services are being blurred, I also had a jump start on my peers by having almost equal exposure to the sea services as I did the Army.  I will admit however, that my loyalties were fiercely divided once a year during the annual Army-Navy game. Go team!  

Today, I am an officer in the Naval Reserve (yes, I finally went into the Navy). Without a doubt, that would not be the case but for my involvement in the Sea Cadets. I received my commission through the Navy’s Direct Commission program, which at the time was unique to the Naval Reserve for a select few career fields. I learned about this program from a fellow Sea Cadet officer, who had also been in the Army. Without that connection, there’s no telling what my military career would look like now, if it even existed at all.  

My favorite aspect of the Sea Cadet program has been the cadets themselves. I have had the privilege of training and working with hundreds of cadets over the years. Many have gone into military service themselves, or on to successful civilian careers in various industries. There is no greater feeling than receiving an email or phone call from a former cadet and hearing about the positive impact the Sea Cadet program has had in their lives. 

I have even had to work through the mixed feelings of losing former cadet Pfc. Kevin Wessell, U.S. Army, who while deployed to Iraq in 2005, was killed in action while protecting the lives of his entire platoon. Every time I am at National Headquarters, I take a moment to reflect as I look at his picture on the wall of honor there.

I have also returned to the program that has been such a large part of my life with membership in the NSCC Alumni Association. In January 2015, I assumed the role as president of that organization and I am looking forward to working with a great group of former cadets and officers (and some current adult leaders) as we work to give back to the Sea Cadet program and support the thousands of cadets all around the country. After more than two decades with the Sea Cadet program, I have only one regret: I wish I knew about it sooner.