Stallion alumnus graduates from U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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Benson poses with Admiral Sand Stoszra during Benson's Coast Guard Academy graduation.

Benson poses with Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz during Benson’s Coast Guard Academy graduation.

Kyle Benson, a former Stallion (’10) graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Civil Engineering and earned a commission, as an Ensign in the United States Coast Guard on May 21, 2014.

Benson graduated in 2010 with full International Baccalaureate  honors and was the first Cross country runner to be offered a scholarship. He was the number one ranked runner during the 2006 – 2010 season and was chosen as Athlete of the Year his senior year. He assisted the 2009 4×8 track team to win All – Region and helped the Men’s Varsity Soccer team with four assists in 2010.

Benson applied to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as an alternative option in the case that he did not gain acceptance into Penn State University. He got his acceptance letter from the Academy, but ultimately still had his mind on Penn State. When Benson took a tour of the campus in New London, Connecticut , he saw what a great opportunity he had and he just couldn’t pass it up.

“I chose the Coast Guard Academy because it was a free school and I had a guaranteed job after I graduated” he stated.

On June 29th, 2010, Benson reported to the Academy. The first seven weeks he was there, Benson had to go through an enduring and challenging training process known as “Swab Summer.” Swab Summer is designed to introduce civilian students into basic military life.

The training process includes physical conditioning, general military skills and academics. Swab Summer teaches students military discipline, seamanship and gives them exposure to the Coast Guard.  Every person who enrolls in the Academy is known as a “Swab” until they pass “Swab Summer”, once completed, the swabs are known as “Cadets”.

“We wake up at six, formation, breakfast, classes, formation, lunch, classes, sports, homework and bed, we can’t go out whenever we want to, we have a curfew,” he said.

Even though a military Academy seems much harder than a regular college, it does have its benefits. Benson will not only graduate as an officer in the military but he will graduate without any education debt or student loans. The Coast Guard has given Benson the chance to travel around the world, to such places as Germany, Ireland, London, Seattle, Alaska, Florida, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

In order to learn more about the Coast Guard, each cadet is given a summer assignment. A summer assignment involves cadets reporting to a specific cutter. A cutter is a 65 foot boat (or longer) that contains living quarters for the officers and enlisted crew. On a summer assignment, the crew will report to a specific location around the world, and complete missions for more exposure to the Coast Guard.

“My first summer assignment, I reported to the cutter Midget, in Seattle, and my second assignment I reported to Vigilant in Cape Canaveral, Florida.” Benson stated.

Benson’s first choice to be stationed was at Portsmouth, Virginia. He was chosen to be Deck Watch Officer, on Coast Guard Cutter Tampa. “As a Deck Watch Officer, I’ll be in charge of taking care of the enlisted crew, ensuring safe navigation of the cutter, and upholding the Constitution”.

While he is on the cutter, the crew will be enforcing drug and migrant interdiction and will be patrolling Cuba and the Dominican Republic for two to three months at a time. When they are not patrolling, they will be cleaning and prepping the cutter to go out to sea again.

Benson may not owe the Academy any financial obligation, but he stated that he is obligated to serve a mandatory five years of active service. He said that he doesn’t regret going into to the Coast Guard, but he still plans to get his Master’s degree from Penn State University.

Benson (shown left) training during Swab Summer. Benson (shown right) graduating as an Ensign from the United States Coast Guard Academy.

Benson (shown left) training during Swab Summer. Benson (shown right) graduating as an Ensign from the United States Coast Guard Academy.

Follow-Up Article:

Below is a press release about the U.S. Coast Guard ship that Benson was stationed on after graduation.

On August 10th the Coast Guard seized more than $32 million in cocaine in Caribbean Sea. The link to the article is posted below:

By Mark Benson, reporter





Editor’s Note:

This is the first article in a series of features celebrating 10 years of South Pointe High School and glorifying our stallion graduates who are making a mark on this world.