For the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Carson City Division, teaching young men and women about the military during elementary and high school is the goal.
“Sea Cadets is the Navy’s official youth program,” new commanding officer Lt. Cathryne Sainz said. “We work with youth ages 10-18. We use the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps as a foundation to teach the cadets things like accountability and responsibility.”
Similar to a Junior ROTC program, Sea Cadets is not directly affiliated with the school where they meet, and are funded by sponsors like the Fleet Reserver Association Sierra Tahoe Branch.
The Sea Cadets are directly connected to the military, Sainz said, allowing the cadets hands-on training not necessarily offered by JROTC programs.
“The Sea Cadets get to go on two-week under way training assignments where they are directly incorporated in to active-duty work,” she said. “They are part of the crew. They get to push a button and launch an F18 off the deck of an aircraft carrier. It is much more of an introduction into the military; the good and the bad.”
Although military service after graduating from the program is not required, Sea Cadets are rewarded for their achievements while participating.
Any cadet who reaches the rank of E-3 or above holds that rank immediately after boot camp.
Those cadets who choose to join the military as an officer receive assistance bypassing the usually required senator or governor recommendation.
“We can help them get their foot in the door at Annapolois, the Navy and Marine Corps Service Academy,” Sainz said. “There are also scholarships available for those that choose not to pursue the military after high school.”
Being medically disqualified to join the Navy like she dreamed, Sainz saw an opportunity to help the military through her volunteering with the Sea Cadet program.
Encouragement from the examples her husband, then boyfriend, also kick started Sainz’s now six-year involvement as a leader.
“I got to see the things he was doing. He got to fly out to Hawaii and ride the USS Comstock back to San Diego as a 15-year-old kid,” she said. “I couldn’t serve active duty, but I saw the opportunity and wanted to help bring up the next generation who could take my place.”
Officially taking command of the Carson City Division on Saturday, Sainz said she has some big shoes to fill.
Those shoes she also finds by her front door, belonging to her husband.
“This use to be my husband’s unit so this is a big responsibility,” she said. “He is helping the regional staff Sea Cadets, which is all of Nevada except for Clark County. I am excited to be on my own and take what he’s established and run with it.”
Sainz hopes to grow the program from the current 12 cadets, expanding the reach to include those areas of the region that hasn’t seen cadets form yet.
Also, competing in the local seamanship challenge in the Bay Area is on Sainz’s list of goals as commander.
“I want to be able to expand Sea Cadets reach and show what the program can offer to more young people,” she said.
The group currently meets at Sierra Lutheran High School in Carson City, a recent partnership Sainz said she’s greatful for.
Working much like a reserve unit, the Sea Cadets meet periodically for drill training in all aspects of the military.
The Carson City Sea Cadets are in charge of the Memorial Day ceremony.
The unit has also done color guards for Hot August Nights including the final parade down Virginia Street on the last day.
“I love seeing them grow from quiet, introverted kids to seeing them grow and develop into leaders not only in Sea Cadets, but in their schools and their community. I like seeing them taking charge of their lives. When I see them graduate from a national program and I see the pride on their face, that is my paycheck,” Sainz said.
For more information on the Carson City Sea Cadets visit the unit’s website at www.ccdivnscc.org.