Pint-Sized Sailors

The Youth Organization Cultivating our Nation’s Future Heroes

Alicia Gavin
11 min readFeb 7, 2019


A young boy, wearing a Navy uniform, waits to graduate from a military training with The U.S. Naval Sea Cadets. | Photo by Alicia Gavin

Silence gripped the tree-lined valley enveloped in a thick fog. In the predawn haze, numerous off-white buildings clad in wood siding and capped with emerald tinted steel roofs uniformly pierced through the fog. Each barrack stood in a state of hibernation, the only sound, a hum from their respective power generators.

A quiet U.S. Army National Guard base in the early morning haze. | Photo by Alicia Gavin

Suddenly, a warm yellow light radiated from a window on the top floor of one of the buildings. A silhouetted figure rose from his bed and yawned. A crisp breeze whistled through the crack of his window as he fumbled to get dressed. As other barracks were coming to life, the smell of sizzling bacon filled the air and the rhythmic sounds of an Army unit calling cadence could be heard in the distance. This miniature military metropolis was waking up.

The young man left his cadre (staff cadet) room, tiptoed downstairs, entered into a crowded room filled with bunk beds, took the lid off a garbage can, slammed it against the floor, and shouted “Reveille, Reveille, all hands on deck!”

SN Austin Fields, USN, a former Sea Cadet Petty Officer stands at Parade Rest. | Photo by Alicia Gavin

The recruits jumped to their feet and scurried to the bathroom to get ready for PT (physical training). As the staff cadet sluggishly tied his own shoes, he and his fellow staff members readied themselves for the long, gruelling day that lay ahead. Despite the challenges a day of leading recruits would bring, a smile began to form across his face. This young man was proud to be a United States Naval Sea Cadet.

Thousands of young Americans have taken an oath to honor the United States and represent both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, leaving behind summers inside, wearing pajamas all day, and playing Call of Duty with friends. In the summer of 2018 alone 7,426 cadets stepped outside of their comfort zone to train alongside the U.S. Military. They joined the program as individuals, but quickly learned to think on their feet, work as a team, and live a…



Alicia Gavin

Freelance Journalist, Photographer, and Videographer : London, UK • Phoenix, AZ :