Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago

BREMERTON, Wash. – U.S. Naval Sea Cadets assigned to a local unit visited USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to learn about shipboard life and meet Sailors, Feb. 21-22.

Thirty-five cadets from Seattle’s Blue Angels Squadron spent more than 24 hours aboard the ship for a tour and participated in various tasks.

The Sea Cadets program provides opportunities for kids aged 11 to 17 to experience life as a Sailor or Marine and provides cadets with skill sets that can be used as a stepping stone for joining the military.

Anticipation and excitement filled the cadets’ faces as they came aboard the carrier for the first time and spent the night.

“The expressions on their faces were priceless,” said Chief Navy Counselor Rex E. Parmelee, from Nicholasville, Ky., Stennis’ command career counselor. “They could not believe they were about to come aboard for the weekend.”

Once the surreal feeling passed for the cadets, they were ready to get to work. They stood messenger of the watch, saluting Sailors on and off the quarterdeck. They served as medical stretcher bearers during a general quarters scenario and learned about different techniques Stennis Sailors use during a casualty.

When the cadets finished standing watch and doing training, they had the opportunity to work with the food service assistants on the mess decks. They wiped tables, took out trash and washed trays in the scullery. To wrap up the day, the cadets received a tour of the ship, seeing everything from the flight deck to the forecastle.

“The Sea cadets program and this trip gave cadets a taste of what they can expect from the military without the long commitment of four or six years,” said John Cox, operations officer for Blue Angels Squadron Sea Cadets, a volunteer for twenty years. “We have also sent cadets to schools and training camps that the military use. We’ve had cadets interested in joining the Marine Corps, so we sent them to Camp Pendleton.”

According to Parmelee, not only is this event important to show cadets what Sailors do, but it gives the cadets a foundation for being a great Sailor. Whether they decide to enlist or become an officer, they had an experience of a lifetime and can now make more informed decisions about their military futures.

“I’ve seen this program help motivate and improve the learning skills of cadets,” said Cox. “The program directs them on career paths they weren’t even thinking about before, giving them a new focus in life.”

For more information about the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corps visit http://www.seacadets.org. For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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