Sea Cadets learn leadership, teamwork through hands-on training

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi | Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | Jan. 30, 2013

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — They dress in uniforms, stand in formation, drill, conduct physical training tests and learn the military life style, yet they aren't even old enough to vote.

More than 42 Sea Cadets from South Carolina and Georgia, ages 10 to 17, are part of the Hunley-Yorktown Sea Cadet Division located in South Carolina's Lowcountry. The unit, which is more than 50 years old, is the third oldest Sea Cadet Division in the country.

According to, the NSCC works with the Department of the Navy to encourage and aid young men and women in developing seagoing skills, patriotism, courage, self-reliance and kindred virtues.

The Naval Sea Cadet Corps is an organization committed to providing a drug and alcohol-free environment. The NSCC mission is to foster cadets' leadership abilities, broaden their horizons through hands-on training, and guide them to becoming mature young adults.

The Hunley-Yorktown Sea Cadet Division meets the second Saturday of every month onboard the USS Yorktown or at Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station, where cadets participate in classes, physical training, games, camping trips and military training exercises.

"We have the brightest and most motivated young men and women I have ever met," said Lt. j.g. Dennis Doerr, Hunley-Yorktown Sea Cadet Division executive officer. "Our cadets learn what it's like to be in the military and learn skills they will use for the rest of their lives, whether they join the service our not. We teach the cadets about all the branches of the military and the different careers they have to offer."

After completing a two-week boot camp, cadets are allowed to attend training courses throughout the country to learn about careers in the military such as: air traffic control, culinary arts, medical training, firefighting training, photo journalism, ceremonial guard, marksmanship training, scuba school, submarine seminars, construction battalion training, mine warfare operations training, SEAL training, explosive ordinance disposal training, petty officer leadership academy, amphibious training, master-at-arms training, judge advocate general training, sailing school, seamanship training and shipboard training.

"These training courses provide the cadets a perspective of what it's like to be part of America's finest," Doerr said. "The courses are all two weeks long and provide hands-on training to the cadets through job shadowing. It's one thing to talk about what the Navy SEALs do, but it's another thing to let the cadets do a scaled version of what the SEALs do, with the SEALs conducting the training."

Cadets complete training courses and virtual classes to make rank . They also participate in local events and community volunteering.

"We try to teach the cadets the importance of being involved around the community," Doerr said. "They perform flag details for Navy and Coast Guard reunions and parades, and volunteer their time at the Veterans Home in Walterboro, S.C."

Being physically fit is part of a military lifestyle and that holds true in the Sea Cadet Program. Cadets are encouraged to stay physically active and on the days they meet, perform PT for an hour.

"We have our own version of the PT test, which incorporates sit-ups, push-ups and a one-mile run," Doerr said. "We try to keep the cadets active and healthy. We want them to enjoy being outdoors."

Doerr has been a Sea Cadet instructor for eight years and is retired from the U.S. Navy. He was once a cadet in the program.

"Being a cadet helped me face the challenges of being in the military," Doerr said. "I was motivated physically and mentally because of the training I went through as a cadet. When I graduated boot camp, I was promoted to E-3 because of my time spent in the Sea Cadet Program. Most of our cadets end up joining the military and some are even accepted to military academies."

Emma Overman, a Petty Officer 1st Class in the Sea Cadet program, has been a cadet for five years and is 17-years-old. She will be promoting to chief petty officer in July and will be the unit's first female chief. Travelling to new places and teamwork are what she loves most about being a cadet.

"I never thought I was strong enough to accomplish several of the tasks I faced during survival school in Rhode Island," said Overman. "It was a two-week course and we were dropped 75 yards off the coast of a small island. We swam to shore with all of our gear. During the school, we learned about battle tactics, hand-to-hand combat, (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) techniques, hydration, food sources and teamwork. We had many obstacles thrown at us, but as long as we worked together, we were able to overcome them."

Overman's father, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class John Overman, a maritime enforcement specialist stationed at USCG Sector Charleston, has been a Sea Cadet instructor for five years and is happy to volunteer his time. All 15 of the staff involved with the program are volunteers.

"I started volunteering at the Sea Cadet program to teach the cadets about leadership," Overman said. "I always tell them, 'to be a leader, you have to serve others.' Being a great leader will help the cadets grow into mature adults in the service or wherever life takes them."

The youngest member of the Overman family, 11-year-old Sam, is a Petty Officer 3rd Class in the program and wants to follow in his father's footsteps.

"I want to join the military, just like my dad," Sam said.

For more information or to join the Sea Cadets, contact Lt. j.g. Dennis Doerr at (843) 276-9107 or