Morton High School senior Trent DeGreef knew he wanted to go into the military after graduation, and thanks to an organization founded more than 60 years ago, he got a head start on his future.
When DeGreef was 13 years old, he became involved with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. (USNSCC), a congressionally-chartered youth organization sponsored by the U.S. Navy.
Though the USNSCC began in 1958, not too many seem to know of this hidden gem. DeGreef, who knew years ago he wanted to someday join the Coast Guard, came across the organization while he was perusing the Internet and stumbled on the website www.seacadets.org.
“It’s a nationwide program, I’ve went to California, Florida...it’s a great program, it’s crazy nobody really takes advantage of it,” said DeGreef.
LTJG Ian Allen agreed that not too many know about the organization despite its history, and he hopes that will change. Allen is the Public Affairs/Training Officer for the Pimiteoui Division of the USNSCC in Peoria.
“The Sea Cadets often go unnoticed in the world of youth organizations,” said Allen. “It serves to better today’s youth through teaching them the values of community service, citizenship, discipline and teamwork, as well as focusing on U.S. Naval operations and training.”
There are 396 units, and over 12,000 members of the USNSCC nationwide. The Pimiteoui Division meets monthly at the U.S. Naval Operational Support Center in Peoria for unit drilling, which includes various trainings, activities and ceremonial events.
Allen explained there are two programs within the organization: The U.S. Navy League Cadet Corps offered for younger cadets ages 10-13, and the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Corps for cadets ages 13-18.
“Each new Sea Cadet must attend NSCC recruit training, which serves to introduce each "recruit" to the standards and routine involved in the life of a Sea Cadet,” explained Allen. “Military drill, customs and courtesies, physical fitness training, and other courses related to the sea-going services, are part of the demanding schedule of recruit training.”
After graduating from NSCC recruit training, Sea Cadets have the opportunity to attend Advanced Training in many different locations and in many different fields, depending on their personal interests. All the courses are coordinated and staffed by NSCC officers and instructors, as well as instructors from all branches of the Armed Forces, mainly Active and Reserve Navy, Marine and Coast Guard personnel.
DeGreef’s journey took him to California for Petty Officer Leadership Academy, and since his interests were in the Coast Guard, DeGreef also visited Florida, where he spent a week at a U.S. Coast Guard station and learned the ropes there. He said the training provided him with valuable experience and knowledge.
“Marching, orders, general knowledge, I already know so that’s a big help,” said DeGreef. “Sea Cadets has really taught me a lot about how to be a good leader and has prepared me for joining the military.”
The highest rank a cadet can attain in the USNSCC is that of Chief Petty Officer, and DeGreef was bestowed that honor in a private ceremony in Brimfield last Sunday, January 12. Allen said a Chief Petty Officer pinning is an accomplishment approximately only one percent of cadets will achieve nationwide.
“There are fewer USNSCC Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. than Eagle Scouts, which says quite a bit about the fortitude and discipline required to achieve this rank,” remarked Allen. “DeGreef is one of our hardest charging cadets in our unit.”
DeGreef is currently enlisted in the Coast Guard and is looking forward to recruit training this summer after graduation. His work also earned him a rank advantage. He will enter the Coast Guard as an E-3 Seaman. That’s something that wouldn’t be possible without the USNSCC.
Chief Petty Officer DeGreef recommends the program to anyone thinking about going into the military, with one piece of advice, “keep with the program and take advantage of everything the program has to offer.”
More information can be found by visiting https://www.seacadets.org/. Those interested in joining may submit an inquiry by clicking on “Start your Journey” on the website’s banner.