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PUBLISHED: Monday, February 28, 2005

Sea Cadets meet, compete

By MARK RANZENBERGER Sun Staff Writer

The group of young people competing at Central Michigan University's Finch Fieldhouse this weekend wasn't a bunch of baggy-pants slackers dreaming of video games. They dream of flying faster than sound or taking on 40-foot waves in 41-foot boats. They're serious. Several hundred U.S. Naval Sea Cadets and Navy League Cadets converged on the university for the organization's annual statewide competition. Michigan has units in 14 locations, including the Chosin Division based in Mt. Pleasant. "They pulled together in some of the toughest times," said Chosin Petty Officer Victoria Curnow, 16, of Alma. "They've done great." The units competed in events including close-order drill, seamanship, including knot-tying, climbing and emergency medicine. In their world, a hat is a "cover," a bathroom is a "head," buddies are "shipmates" and adults are addressed as "sir" or "ma'am." "It impresses teachers real well," said Sea Cadet Dale Dunham, 16, of Benzonia. Dunham said he's interested in a career in the Coast Guard.

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Thirteen yearold Appollonio Gomez, front, of Mt. Pleasant strains at the rope with teammates including Sheila Van Blaricum,14, of Shepherd during a tug of war at Finch Field House, on the Central Michigan University campus, Sunday morning, Feb 27. Gomez and his team are members of the Sea Cadets Chosin Division, Mt. Pleasant, which competed in a weekend competition Sea Cadet units from across Michigan.

His dream, he said, is to go the Coast Guard's Heavy Weather School and learn how to guide a rescue vessel through some of the toughest waves. He said he's also a competitive skier. "I like adrenaline," he said.

Tim Mullen, 18, of St. Ignace said he's applied to the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He said he's learned the art of leadership through the organization. "It's how you hold yourself as a petty officer," he said. Leading younger cadets, he said, has taught him a great deal. "You kind of have to guide them along," the high school senior said. Petty Officer Emily Ruppert, 16, of Kalkaska wants to become a U.S. Air Force doctor. She has spent time at the base hospital at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida, and hopes to attend the University of Michigan. "I'd like to fly the F/A-18," said Cadet Caleb Leach, 14, of Commerce Township matter-of-factly. The twin-jet fighter and attack jet can fly at 1.6 times the speed of sound and can carry more than eight tons of ordinance from aircraft carriers or land bases. Most Sea Cadets see themselves as eventually joining the military, and wear Navy-style uniforms during drills. There is no obligation to join, however. The Sea Cadets were formed in 1957, and is a cooperative effort of the Navy, the Coast Guard and the civilian Naval League. It permits young people to sample military life, and many of the youngsters say they find they like it. "I'm definitely joining the military," said Adam Breidenstein, 16, of Mt. Pleasant. "It's a good experience." The Chosin Division includes both Navy League Cadets, ages 10 to 13, and Sea Cadets, ages 14 through high school. For more information, contact Lt. Cmdr. John Smith at (989) 773-0067. The unit's next drill is a Finch Fieldhouse March 12.

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