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Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown hosts AUP for Advanced Skills Weekend

posted Nov 18, 2012, 10:23 AM by Andrew Welch   [ updated Feb 5, 2013, 5:16 PM by Unknown user ]
Article by Christopher Weber, AUP Class of 2015 at The College of William and Mary

Yorktown, VA – Joint operations are usually limited to online courses and phone calls in Auxiliary University Programs with units scattered around the country. Internships and summer operations bring some students together, but it would otherwise be easy for shipmates from another unit to remain unknown as just names on a roster.
That all changed over the course of Advanced Skills Weekend (ASW), sponsored by the Auxiliary’s Fifth Southern District from October 12-14 at United States Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown. Members from Unit Piedmont NC, Unit Washington, and Unit William and Mary met for an AUP-oriented training and operations.
“One of the most memorable parts was getting to hear from the other AUP members how their groups were run and really start to experience the fellowship of our Coast Guard family,” said Lauren Crawford, a member of AUP Unit Piedmont, NC.
AUP students held presentations and discussions to learn more about each other’s units, and also collaborated on the future of the program. Outside of AUP specific workshops, members also partook in various courses offered at the ASW.
Communications, Seamanship, Marine Prevention Outreach, and OP boat crew training all had AUP members working alongside other Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel. After roughly twelve hours in the classroom, members took either an exam or an oral board, all in hopes of furthering their qualifications and abilities.
Cole Ashcraft, student unit commander of AUP Unit Washington, balanced classes alongside instructor responsibilities.
“I had a busy, but awesome, weekend at TRACEN Yorktown. I bounced between taking the Auxiliary Prevention Outreach course, teaching boat crew, and actually being boat crew out on the water. It was great to get to meet the rest of the AUP crew too,” said Ashcraft.
Every member had an opportunity to spend a day underway on the York River, serving as trainees on Auxiliary vessels.
“I enjoyed being able to get underway for the first time, learning the ins and outs of boat crew and spending a very short amount of time teaching first aid to other boat crew candidates,” said Bob Zucker, a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and student from AUP Unit Washington.
Members worked on man overboard drills, anchoring and weighing anchor exercises, and tows - both stern tows and alongside tows. Underway operations also allowed members to practice radio communications and navigation.
For Joshua Kingett and Jesse Thrift – both of AUP Unit Washington – the training exercises acted as a springboard into the following weekend of boat crew training, resulting in Kingett earning his boat crew qualification.
Despite getting underway and participating in on-the-water training, members cited the AUP-wide unity as the most exciting outcome of the weekend.

“By far the best part was meeting other AUP students and building bonds between our units,” added Zucker.

When not in classrooms, vessels, or meetings, members mustered for morning colors, ate in the galley, took an Auxiliary swim test, and met for early-morning workouts.

“I enjoyed getting away from Washington, DC, and onto a Coast Guard base for the first time. It was a great chance to get an even larger snippet of what the experience of an active duty Coast Guardsman is like”, said Jacob Thayer, member of AUP Unit Washington.
With the school week calling, members returned to their respective colleges and universities. Still, the unity and realization of an Auxiliarist’s potential resonated.
“ASW was a really great experience. I loved getting out on the water and executing drills and evolutions that are actually put into practice in real-life situations,” said Crawford.  “It was nice to see how Auxiliary members are putting their training into practice and protecting the waters.”