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Posted: 9/15/2005 3:46:55 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2005 3:47:46 PM EDT by KA3B]
September 19, 2005

The ultimate test
At Officer Candidates School, giving 110 percent isn’t enough

Stories by Christian Lowe

Wayne Dunlap stood at rigid attention, jaw clenched in nervous anticipation. This was not where he wanted to be: a large, ill-lit conference room in the headquarters building of Officer Candidates school, standing before a panel of officers and enlisted instructors who held his fate in their hands.
His platoon commander spelled it out plainly. Dunlap wasn’t officer material.

It wasn’t because he couldn’t handle the physical demands. It wasn’t because he couldn’t keep up with the academics. In fact, Dunlap was squarely in the middle of the pack.

He was trying his best and working hard. He was enthusiastic about becoming a Marine officer.

But there was something missing — Dunlap’s instructors concluded that he could never be a leader of men — and certainly not a leader of Marines.

“I think he got lost on [Interstate] 95 and ended up in my squad bay,” said the platoon commander, Capt. David Hill.

It was true. At Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., where the Marine Corps molds its future officers, Dunlap just seemed out of place.

“He’s probably the nicest guy in the entire world, but when he gets his commission, his Marines are going to eat him alive,” said Capt. Tom Warren, 3rd Platoon commander. “They will totally manipulate him.”

Make that if he gets his commission.

The next day, Dunlap faced the OCS commander, Col. Louis Rachal.

“This candidate really wants to be here, sir. This candidate is determined to improve, has improved and is determined to graduate in August, sir,” Dunlap said, speaking, as required, in the third person.

Under questioning, Dunlap admitted his confidence had suffered, but said he was working to toughen himself and get with the program. His instructors agreed this was so.

“This candidate has a desire to make a difference. This candidate has a desire to be a Marine and to lead Marines,” Dunlap assured the OCS commander, his jaw muscles tensing as he stood.

Rachal was unmoved. “Trying hard and putting out 110 percent isn’t enough. For some reason, you haven’t sold yourself as a leader.

“I’m going to disenroll you from the program. ... You have the potential, but you’re not there yet.”

And just like that, there was one fewer member of Officer Candidates School Class 186.

Why they join

Rachal’s decision on Dunlap’s fate offers a window into the usually shrouded world of officer training and the tough standards leaders apply as they identify who will — and won’t — be entrusted with the responsibility to lead Marines. And their choices are all the more critical today because the nation is at war.

Most of the Corps’ newest officers can expect that, at some point early in their careers, the odds are good that they’ll be called upon to lead men and women in combat.

And as many candidates learn, it sometimes doesn’t matter how hard you try. It’s not always your smarts or your strength and stamina. It’s not about how well you march on the parade deck or lead troops in squad maneuvers.

You’re not going to fail if you don’t make it through the obstacle course first, or if you can’t figure out how to get a barrel over a wooden wall on the leadership evaluation courses.

But as Dunlap and dozens of others who tried and failed learned, no one will make the cut as a Marine Corps officer if he or she doesn’t have that special something — that intangible quality Marines say sets officers apart from all others: leadership.

Of the nearly 300 men and women who began the journey in June 2004, 63 would leave before the course concluded with a graduation ceremony 10 weeks later. Some quit voluntarily, some, like Dunlap, were simply sent home unfulfilled.

And here, unlike at the Corps’ two recruit depots, which train enlisted Marines, instructors don’t talk candidates into sticking with the program or goad them out of quitting. Instructors will help when asked, but candidates can drop — or be dropped — in a flash.

The volunteers of Class 186 attending this 10-week course — a program for college seniors and graduates — come from all walks of life. When the course began June 6, in the ranks were a candidate from Cottonwood, Calif., who has a doctoral degree in finance; a plumber’s apprentice from Houston; a lawyer from Spain; a youth counselor from Omaha, Neb.; a newspaper copy editor from Pennsylvania — all men who think they have what it takes to become a leader of America’s elite.

Their motivations for submitting to the stinking mud, steamy heat and brain-numbing classes that make up this “weeding out” program are wide and varied. Some see their experience in the Corps as a stepping stone for future careers in law or politics. Others, such as Joshua Piper, 27, of Longview, Wash., want to fly jets — a job that can mean a long military career.

Antonio Contreras, 30, of Labadie, Mo., wanted to get into the Corps so badly, he committed to become a lawyer — the only option available at his age — even though he wanted more than anything to join the infantry.

Patrick Amalfi, 26, the plumber’s apprentice, simply wants to lead Marine grunts into combat.

Whatever their goals and backgrounds, all of the nearly 300 officer candidates of Class 186 share a desire to serve their country — a common patriotic call to make a difference.

Each left a comfortable life for the sweat, pain and uncertainty of OCS. What they have to look forward to is more of the same — months away from family and friends and the kind of stress and responsibility that would give Fortune 500 executives the shakes.

For many, life in the Corps could take them to combat patrols in Iraq or Afghanistan in little more than a year.

“I got offered a lot of jobs, and it just wasn’t fulfilling” said finance graduate student Wesley Gray. “I figured I gotta pay my dues someday. I’m young, and I’m healthy, and I don’t want to be out of the action next time around when we got to take care of business.”

‘You’ll be a man’

Standing in the dappled shade of Quantico’s hardwood forests nearly three weeks into his training, Candidate Alex Wilschke’s wry sense of humor, laid-back attitude and perceptiveness seem a bit out of place behind camouflage face paint.

Waiting for his team’s turn on the Small Unit Leadership Evaluation Course — a mind-bending series of obstacles that force candidates to solve problems quickly and under difficult conditions — Wilschke, a law student at Denver University, Colo., doesn’t seem your typical Marine. In fact, he seems exactly the opposite. And he’s going to be a lawyer for the Corps.

So, why go through all of this? Why endure the long, early morning runs, the harassment of the sergeant instructors and the hours of classes?

“Most lawyers are a bunch of weenies. And I didn’t see the point of becoming an officer in any other service,” Wilschke said, grinning. “I mean, would I want to become an Army lawyer just so I could have it easier? What’s the point of that?”

To understand his motivations, he recommended reading the poem “If,” by Rudyard Kipling.

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds worth of distance run — Yours

Is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And — which is more —

You’ll be a Man, my son.”

It’s a message of manhood, Wilschke said, of subtlety and strength. That’s why he chose the Corps and eschewed the easy route.

What they want

Josh Piper and James Landree circulated around a hot supply room during uniform issue. As prior-enlisted Marines, they and another candidate were showing those new to the Corps how to fold the sleeves of a camouflage blouse, thread belts through brass buckles and how to properly fit a cover. As fingers fumbled through unfamiliar motions, the men and women of Class 186 spoke in hushed tones about what lay ahead.

This was the first day they were allowed to wear the green, brown and black pixel-pattern Marine camouflage uniform. It also was the day they’d be “picked up” by their training platoons.

The dread was almost universal among the candidates. Tales and horror stories about “pick-up” permeated their conversations like a foul odor.

Folding his crisp new uniforms into neat piles and awaiting the inevitable, Patrick Amalfi didn’t look much like the leatherneck officer he aspired to be. Despite his freshly shaven head, the Texan still looked more like a college student than a warrior.

In his easy southwestern twang, he spoke plainly about his career goal.

“Infantry, without a doubt,” Amalfi declared. “If I’m going to push myself to do OCS, then I’m going to do that job. I think it would be an absolute honor to lead Marines into combat — to have 40 men look up to me and ask me what to do. It’s an honor.”

Most of the candidates, besides those with guarantees as aviators or lawyers, aspire to be in the infantry.

Now, the journey toward that goal was beginning. And no matter how much Amalfi and his fellow candidates thought they knew about what to expect from the Marine Corps, they were about to learn first hand what stress is all about. There would be no time to think about the future — only time enough to contemplate the next two hours, 20 minutes or two seconds.

Resolute, high-minded officer candidates were about to be turned on their heads in an alien world. Amalfi’s rock-jawed pride would yield to indecision, confusion and fear as his platoon’s enlisted instructors hammered away at him with orders and nitpicked his every failure.

In the chaos of those first days, the sergeant instructors would begin stripping away the civilian exterior of each candidate, pushing each to either find the strength to make it through the next 10 weeks — or just walk away.

Pick-up day

Amalfi sounded confident at uniform issue a few hours earlier, but when the sergeant instructors started bellowing into his ear and scattering the neat rows of desks and chairs across the cold concrete floor, he was anything but sure of himself.

His eyes scanning side to side, Amalfi wondered what to do as his fellow candidates scrambled out of the building known as “Classroom 3.” At that moment, Amalfi looked as if he’d opened his eyes and realized the nightmare he’d been having was real.

This was pick-up.

The sergeant instructors who would be a source of unrelenting discipline during their 10 weeks at OCS set them into motion, barking orders, hustling them out of the classroom and across the black asphalt of the parade ground. The candidates were so confused and frazzled that they could barely maintain a ragged formation as the sergeant instructors buzzed in and out of their lines like angry bees, shouting orders that seemed to make little sense.

As sweat poured down Amalfi’s pale face, it was clear the idealism of those first few days was gone. Now, it was all about just making it through.

And so it starts

At five minutes before reveille, everyone was already awake.

The tension of pick-up hadn’t yet worn off, making for a fitful night in the rack. When the clock read 5 a.m., sergeant instructors walked into the squad bay on cue, the heavy thud of their boots filling the room over the noise of the industrial-sized fan blowing at the other end of the long row of bunk beds.

The squad bay was dank with the sweaty odor of the night’s harried events, when something as simple as making a bed took nearly an hour with the shouts of sergeant instructors blasting in everyone’s ears. Organizing clothes and shoes took just as long, as the team of enlisted Marines pushed and pushed the candidates to execute their demands to the letter.

Candidates awoke to a view of dingy gray linoleum tiles, dented green lockers and chipped wooden trunks, home for the next two months.

Tumbling out of their racks, the candidates’ bleary eyes grew wider with each new shouted demand from their instructors.

Piling into the bathroom, the 57 men of Charlie Company’s 4th Platoon frantically shaved, showered, brushed their teeth and stumbled back to their racks as the instructors counted down the time.

“Put your PT gear on!”

Heads turned left and right in confusion; hands tumbled through government-issue footlockers looking for thin nylon shorts and a green T-shirt. Amalfi’s face was dripping sweat, his eyes blank with confusion.

“Get those go-fasters laced up! Ten, nine, eight, seven ... You better be ready when I’m done,” bellowed Gunnery Sgt. James Dixon, a sergeant instructor who would soon earn a reputation as the least liked by the candidates.

“All right, let’s go! Go! Go!” shouted 4th Platoon’s top enlisted instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Ruben Velez.

The candidates rolled out the door, down flights of concrete stairs and out the side door of their barracks. The air was already hot and sticky, a typical June morning in Northern Virginia.

For the next few hours the candidates would be driven to the edge of exhaustion — and some well beyond. It was their first meeting with the obstacle course.

The physical training

Moments after tackling the first obstacles, the candidates’ faces were drawn with fatigue. Concentrating on the instructions offered by the enlisted staff who demonstrated how to negotiate each obstacle was next to impossible.

Men struggled up the 25-foot rope climb, wrapping arms and legs around the rope, grasping for every possible advantage.

For the women, the rope climb was a distant worry — the obstacles preceding that last challenge were tough enough. Many hurled themselves against wooden walls and horizontal telephone poles in vain, unfamiliar as they were with the tricks and techniques that would become second nature later in their training.

Cramps and dehydration felled many, and one candidate collapsed in the squad bay, his legs locked in spasms from dehydration.

It wasn’t going to get easier, though. At the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition School, where SEAL commandos learn their trade, there is a saying: “The easiest day was yesterday.” That’s equally true at OCS.

Within three days of meeting their sergeant instructors, the candidates would be enduring three-mile platoon hikes, humping packs stuffed to bursting, through the steamy woods and negotiating a 25-foot rope ascent wearing a rucksack — a task that would prove nearly insurmountable for even the strongest candidates.

That second week was a pretty fair indicator of the intense physical tasks the future lieutenants could expect for the rest of their time at OCS.

For anyone who believes officers have it easy during their version of “boot camp” — which is essentially what OCS is — think again. The 10 weeks are designed to prepare officers to lead from the front in every way.

Candidates are told over and over again that they must be at the top of the heap physically. If a newly commissioned second lieutenant were to fall behind when leading his platoon on a run through the pine woods of Camp Lejeune, N.C., for example, it would be a huge loss of face with his men. The idea that officers should be at the top of the heap physically is drilled into every officer candidate here, and the amount of physical training at OCS was a shock to some.

“You know, when you first see these guys you think ‘Oh yeah, another boot lieutenant,’” said Sgt. Jennifer Truslow, 22, a supply Marine now assisting with OCS training at Quantico. “Since I’ve been here, I definitely have a different perspective on officers.”

One can’t help but see that when the Corps says it wants its officers to lead from the front, that means literally as well as figuratively.

Much like boot camp

Much of what the officers endure mirrors the enlisted training experience, and anyone who’s been through enlisted boot camp will recognize the formula.

For the prior-enlisted candidates, there is a strong sense of déjà vu as the shouts ring out through the squad bay.

But unlike enlisted recruit training, the emphasis here is not on breaking down a candidate and building him back up as a Marine. These college grads are expected to adapt on the fly to use the skills and apply the talents they bring from the civilian world as they learn to lead Marines.

But in the early days of their training, applying talents was far from the candidates’ minds. Just two weeks into the training, their goals were simple. Keep moving. Stay out of trouble. Survive.

NEXT WEEK: The tough road to graduation.

Link Posted: 9/15/2005 3:50:11 PM EDT
Damn! Out just like that?
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 3:59:43 PM EDT
That's okay, the Army/Air Force/Navy will take him...and then he'll be a complete dick to the people who work for him because he's bitter about his failure to become a Marine Corps Officer.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 5:38:08 PM EDT
52 guys started my OCS class and 27 graduated...that was 1982. I see a lot of it has not changed.

Link Posted: 9/15/2005 5:45:49 PM EDT

Originally Posted By kaizoku:
That's okay, the Army/Air Force/Navy will take him...and then he'll be a complete dick to the people who work for him because he's bitter about his failure to become a Marine Corps Officer.



Doesn't sound like he failed.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 5:47:02 PM EDT
Can anyone cliff note that one?
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 5:52:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:
Can anyone cliff note that one?

Werd.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:00:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2005 6:00:38 PM EDT by Sukebe]
"Dunlap was squarely in the middle of the pack".

I get the sense that he was comfortable there. Trying to blend in. Only doing enough to get by. That will get you through Parris Island easily enough. Apparently, it won't get you through Quantico. Which is probably a good thing.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:00:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By kaizoku:
That's okay, the Army/Air Force/Navy will take him...and then he'll be a complete dick to the people who work for him because he's bitter about his failure to become a Marine Corps Officer.



Doesn't sound like he failed.



“I’m going to disenroll you from the program. ... You have the potential, but you’re not there yet.”

And just like that, there was one fewer member of Officer Candidates School Class 186.


Right there, he's gone
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:04:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PaDanby:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By kaizoku:
That's okay, the Army/Air Force/Navy will take him...and then he'll be a complete dick to the people who work for him because he's bitter about his failure to become a Marine Corps Officer.



Doesn't sound like he failed.



“I’m going to disenroll you from the program. ... You have the potential, but you’re not there yet.”

And just like that, there was one fewer member of Officer Candidates School Class 186.


Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:07:55 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:
Can anyone cliff note that one?



The Marines are the best.

Trust me.

Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:11:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Sukebe:
"Dunlap was squarely in the middle of the pack".

I get the sense that he was comfortable there. Trying to blend in. Only doing enough to get by. That will get you through Parris Island easily enough. Apparently, it won't get you through Quantico. Which is probably a good thing.




There are leaders and there are followers. Leadership is not learned, its a trait you either have or don't. They are just trying to bring it out in these folks and he didn't have it.

Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:13:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By bulldog1967:

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:
Can anyone cliff note that one?



The Marines are the best.

Trust me.




The Marine Corps does produce excellent company grade officers. Either the cream are not career oriented or they just get frustrated and get out. But the quality of officers seems to diminish from field grade on up. Don't get me wrong, the Corps has many great senior officers, but the politics of a military officers career thins the herd quite a bit. It just seems like self serving shitheads make it to the top more often than not. That's just not the way it's supposed to be.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:14:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2005 6:45:49 PM EDT by kaizoku]
He DID fail...he failed to exhibit the leadership qualities that the Marine Corps is looking for in an officer.

I'm NOT calling the guy, this individual, a failure...the fact that he had the balls to attend USMC OCS says alot about his character...I'm saying he failed in the task of completing OCS because he did not meet the USMC standards.

Edited because the word NOT was the original intent, and the guy isn't a failure...whoops!
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:16:55 PM EDT
when i went thorugh parris island we had 7 guys who were OCS washouts. and most of them failed at the very end. they had a definite PT advantage. they ran us into the ground.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:20:38 PM EDT
Gotta love the Corps.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:23:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Sukebe:

The Marine Corps does produce excellent company grade officers. Either the cream are not career oriented or they just get frustrated and get out. But the quality of officers seems to diminish from field grade on up. Don't get me wrong, the Corps has many great senior officers, but the politics of a military officers career thins the herd quite a bit. It just seems like self serving shitheads make it to the top more often than not. That's just not the way it's supposed to be.



During WWII, it was common practice for Westpoint grads to be pulled from the front to prepare for running the Army after the war. Same thing followed after Vietnam. I would dare to say that the Marines in some way are no different with Naval Acadamy grads. I cannot speak to the quality of the acadamy grads on the Marine side, but from the Navy side, they are full blown jerks with a superiority complex. After 10 years in the Navy, I think I met one acacamy grad that was worth following.

Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:23:23 PM EDT
One guy in my platoon at OCS was dropped two nights before graduation! Pretty much everything was over, all you had to do was stay alive until the graduation parade.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:24:26 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.



They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader. An Officer who can't lead and is indecisive can be just as deadly as an enemy. (Band of Brother's has an excellent example of this)

The Marine Corps being so much smaller than the Army and other Branches has to picky and demanding but it has resulted in excellence IMHO.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:25:49 PM EDT

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.



They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader. An Officer who can't lead and is indecisive can be just as deadly as an enemy. (Band of Brother's has an excellent example of this)

The Marine Corps being so much smaller than the Army and other Branches has to picky and demanding but it has resulted in excellence IMHO.



I hear you. Guess I'm not oging usmc ocs after school!
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:27:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Sukebe:

Originally Posted By bulldog1967:

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:
Can anyone cliff note that one?



The Marines are the best.

Trust me.




The Marine Corps does produce excellent company grade officers. Either the cream are not career oriented or they just get frustrated and get out. But the quality of officers seems to diminish from field grade on up. Don't get me wrong, the Corps has many great senior officers, but the politics of a military officers career thins the herd quite a bit. It just seems like self serving shitheads make it to the top more often than not. That's just not the way it's supposed to be.




Welcome to reality.

Shitheads fail upward in all professions.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:31:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ASNixon:
During WWII, it was common practice for Westpoint grads to be pulled from the front to prepare for running the Army after the war. Same thing followed after Vietnam. I would dare to say that the Marines in some way are no different with Naval Acadamy grads. I cannot speak to the quality of the acadamy grads on the Marine side, but from the Navy side, they are full blown jerks with a superiority complex. After 10 years in the Navy, I think I met one acacamy grad that was worth following.




USNA grads really aren't held in high esteem among their USMC officers, not to say there aren't some really good ones. It is generally considered a compliment to among the officer corps if a USNA grad is told by someone "I didn't know you went to the academy."

I think the problem you get is there is no average academy grad, they are either very good or very bad.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:33:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

sounds like he WAS failed.



I have had this discussion with a LOT of students (virtually all of whom were "failing"). If someone gives you a failing mark you didn't get over the bar. This is not the fault of the person giving the grade, it is the fault of the person receiving the grade for not doing what is needed to excel. "I didn't know the requirements" is never an acceptable answer, because it is incumbent on the student or trainee to understand what is being asked of them, even if it means getting some clarification.

shooter
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:37:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By STLRN:

Originally Posted By ASNixon:
During WWII, it was common practice for Westpoint grads to be pulled from the front to prepare for running the Army after the war. Same thing followed after Vietnam. I would dare to say that the Marines in some way are no different with Naval Acadamy grads. I cannot speak to the quality of the acadamy grads on the Marine side, but from the Navy side, they are full blown jerks with a superiority complex. After 10 years in the Navy, I think I met one acacamy grad that was worth following.




USNA grads really aren't held in high esteem among their USMC officers, not to say there aren't some really good ones. It is generally considered a compliment to among the officer corps if a USNA grad is told by someone "I didn't know you went to the academy."

I think the problem you get is there is no average academy grad, they are either very good or very bad.



I think the problem is that the grads who are most likely to make sure everyone knows they went to the Academy are also "lacking" in many regards. I know (having taught there for three years) some good kids who have come out, but the loudest about "when I was at the Academy" are the visible ones for MANY reasons.

shooter
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:42:32 PM EDT
"If they let everyone in, it wouldnt be the Marine Corps"
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:43:05 PM EDT
Couple of things, my junior year at PLC we started with 60 guys and had around 33 at the end of 6 weeks. My senior year we had a guy named Roberts, I think his brother was a scout/sniper ovedr in Lebanon. 2nd week he hurt this wrist, did not go to the corpsman. During the 5th beginning week hur t his ankle. He finished all the physical and written testing. Went to the corpsman after that, broken wrist and broken ankle! This guy had stones. Getting through Marine Corps OCS takes alot more than anything else out there.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:43:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.



They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader. An Officer who can't lead and is indecisive can be just as deadly as an enemy. (Band of Brother's has an excellent example of this)

The Marine Corps being so much smaller than the Army and other Branches has to picky and demanding but it has resulted in excellence IMHO.



I hear you. Guess I'm not oging usmc ocs after school!



Don't cut yourself short, you have not experienced Basic and a couple of years of being in service. The Marine Corps have been around a long time, they know how to grow Marines who have confidence and are motivated.

There have been plenty of Marines and Soldiers who had no confidence and leadership qualities prior to enlisting but went on to be Leaders of Men.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:47:45 PM EDT


The volunteers of Class 186 attending this 10-week course — a program for college seniors and graduates — come from all walks of life. When the course began June 6, in the ranks were a candidate from Cottonwood, Calif., who has a doctoral degree in finance; a plumber’s apprentice from Houston; a lawyer from Spain; a youth counselor from Omaha, Neb.; a newspaper copy editor from Pennsylvania — all men who think they have what it takes to become a leader of America’s elite.

Their motivations for submitting to the stinking mud, steamy heat and brain-numbing classes that make up this “weeding out” program are wide and varied. Some see their experience in the Corps as a stepping stone for future careers in law or politics. Others, such as Joshua Piper, 27, of Longview, Wash., want to fly jets — a job that can mean a long military career.

Antonio Contreras, 30, of Labadie, Mo., wanted to get into the Corps so badly, he committed to become a lawyer — the only option available at his age — even though he wanted more than anything to join the infantry.

Patrick Amalfi, 26, the plumber’s apprentice, simply wants to lead Marine grunts into combat.



I'm impressed by a lot of that. Even just signing up. Especially the law school guy that wanted infantry. That guy could have an easy and probably well funded life, and traded it in for Marine Corps green.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:54:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.



They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader. An Officer who can't lead and is indecisive can be just as deadly as an enemy. (Band of Brother's has an excellent example of this)

The Marine Corps being so much smaller than the Army and other Branches has to picky and demanding but it has resulted in excellence IMHO.



I hear you. Guess I'm not oging usmc ocs after school!



Why not?

Maybe you DO have what it takes to be a great leader of men...OCS will give you that chance to prove it to yourself.

Other than a little pride if you don't make it, what do you have to lose?

I'm planning on going back into the military on the Army's 18X program...if I don't have what it takes to be Special Forces, then I don't and I will not have lost anything...but why not set a goal and try as hard as possible to meet it?
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 6:55:52 PM EDT
The motto is the few the proud th brave, that carries into the leaders. They must be the best of the best. I takes something special to lead the type of marine that they ask for. Do you want the lower half of the class leading?
No I not a Marine but I was trained as a medic where 89% was failing. Would you want a 60%person leading? I don't think so, I was trained to be the best that I could be and I lived up to it.
Those that could not make it in our program went elsewhere to be a medic. When SHTF came for us you can tell, we lead in the field or in other areas
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 7:07:03 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2005 7:15:44 PM EDT by mmx1]

Originally Posted By Spade:
I'm impressed by a lot of that. Even just signing up. Especially the law school guy that wanted infantry. That guy could have an easy and probably well funded life, and traded it in for Marine Corps green.



A lot of guys do things like that. One of my platoonmates this summer turned down a posh financial internship in London (setup by his parents to get him out of PLC) in favor of the Marine Corps.


Attrit rate was around 30% for guys; 50 for women. Most were due to injury (most'll return) or DOR (Drop on Request - most won't). Letting people go home weeds a lot of guys lacking in motivation. My platoon ended up with only two people dropped for leadership failures, and one for integrity (copying an essay).
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 7:11:09 PM EDT
One problem with the academy grads are they do not have to attend OCS. I don't care what they say about being a Freshman. It does not compare to or will never be anything like OCS. To me, it takes something away from the Officer Corps.

On another subject my OCS platoon started with 68 Candidates. We graduated 38 in 2001. It was by far the biggest challenge of my life mentally and physically. I however, would do it again. My experiences since then have been worth everything.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 7:14:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By p331083:
Damn! Out just like that?



Yep...

Army is the same way...

(wating to re-start Army OCS, as we speak)...
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 7:18:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By RS0802:
One problem with the academy grads are they do not have to attend OCS. I don't care what they say about being a Freshman. It does not compare to or will never be anything like OCS. To me, it takes something away from the Officer Corps.

On another subject my OCS platoon started with 68 Candidates. We graduated 38 in 2001. It was by far the biggest challenge of my life mentally and physically. I however, would do it again. My experiences since then have been worth everything.



A few years ago (under the last CO, Col. Smith, or so I hear), they tried making Academy grads go through OCS (the only guys that don't - NROTC guys have to attend a 6-week camp identical to PLC Seniors). It failed terribly because the attrit rate was astronomical, and they had to drop the idea.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 7:28:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2005 7:33:48 PM EDT by SSeric02]

Originally Posted By mmx1:

Originally Posted By RS0802:
One problem with the academy grads are they do not have to attend OCS. I don't care what they say about being a Freshman. It does not compare to or will never be anything like OCS. To me, it takes something away from the Officer Corps.

On another subject my OCS platoon started with 68 Candidates. We graduated 38 in 2001. It was by far the biggest challenge of my life mentally and physically. I however, would do it again. My experiences since then have been worth everything.



A few years ago (under the last CO, Col. Smith, or so I hear), they tried making Academy grads go through OCS (the only guys that don't - NROTC guys have to attend a 6-week camp identical to PLC Seniors). It failed terribly because the attrit rate was astronomical, and they had to drop the idea.



That was back in the 80s under Secretary of Navy James Webb I think. And, I was under the impression they did away with it when Secretary Webb moved on b/c it offended the sensibilities of high ranking Naval Academy grads.

ETA: When I went through OCS in the summer of 97, some Academy Midshipmen did come to the OCS facilities for a two or three week training evolution. I remember running back and forth on one of the Squad Evals and seeing a gaggle of personnel in cammies "playing" on the O-Course. When I asked, someone said they were from the Academy. Whatever they did while there, it was most certainly not OCS.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 7:32:56 PM EDT
They did everyone a favor.....


Originally Posted By eodtech2000:
They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader.

Link Posted: 9/15/2005 7:55:34 PM EDT
The class of 93 was the last class that went through OCS, the problem was that even the academy was not immune to the high attrition rate at OCS, but by law something like 11 percent of each class will be commissioned into the Marines. So the Marines were faced with 1 commissioning a large group of USNA offciers who failed out of OCS or 2 whole bunch USNA officers that didn't attend OCS. The Marine Corps took the middle ground, it required all Mids to go to a 4week intro to the Corps, (3 at OCS and 1 at TBS).
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:00:22 PM EDT
Interesting. Show's how much I talked to my comrades from the Naval Academy at TBS.

Oddly enough, there were two Air Force Academy cadets in my platoon at OCS. One was dropped due to an injury. The second ended up in the same company as I at TBS. He had a pilot contract, but dropped it while we were at IOC to become an infantry officer.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:24:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By kaizoku:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.



They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader. An Officer who can't lead and is indecisive can be just as deadly as an enemy. (Band of Brother's has an excellent example of this)

The Marine Corps being so much smaller than the Army and other Branches has to picky and demanding but it has resulted in excellence IMHO.



I hear you. Guess I'm not oging usmc ocs after school!



Why not?

Maybe you DO have what it takes to be a great leader of men...OCS will give you that chance to prove it to yourself.

Other than a little pride if you don't make it, what do you have to lose?

I'm planning on going back into the military on the Army's 18X program...if I don't have what it takes to be Special Forces, then I don't and I will not have lost anything...but why not set a goal and try as hard as possible to meet it?



I've never even given 100% much less 110%! This guy gave 110% and wasn't up to snuff!
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:29:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By kaizoku:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.



They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader. An Officer who can't lead and is indecisive can be just as deadly as an enemy. (Band of Brother's has an excellent example of this)

The Marine Corps being so much smaller than the Army and other Branches has to picky and demanding but it has resulted in excellence IMHO.



I hear you. Guess I'm not oging usmc ocs after school!



Why not?

Maybe you DO have what it takes to be a great leader of men...OCS will give you that chance to prove it to yourself.

Other than a little pride if you don't make it, what do you have to lose?

I'm planning on going back into the military on the Army's 18X program...if I don't have what it takes to be Special Forces, then I don't and I will not have lost anything...but why not set a goal and try as hard as possible to meet it?



I've never even given 100% much less 110%! This guy gave 110% and wasn't up to snuff!



"It has to start somewhere,
It has to start sometime,
What better place than here?
What better time than now?
ALL...HELL...CAN'T STOP US NOW!"
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:33:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By kaizoku:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
Right there, he's gone



sounds like he WAS failed.



They did him a favor, not everyone is cut out to be a Leader. An Officer who can't lead and is indecisive can be just as deadly as an enemy. (Band of Brother's has an excellent example of this)

The Marine Corps being so much smaller than the Army and other Branches has to picky and demanding but it has resulted in excellence IMHO.



I hear you. Guess I'm not oging usmc ocs after school!



Why not?

Maybe you DO have what it takes to be a great leader of men...OCS will give you that chance to prove it to yourself.

Other than a little pride if you don't make it, what do you have to lose?

I'm planning on going back into the military on the Army's 18X program...if I don't have what it takes to be Special Forces, then I don't and I will not have lost anything...but why not set a goal and try as hard as possible to meet it?



I've never even given 100% much less 110%! This guy gave 110% and wasn't up to snuff!



Army OCS ain't any less picky... Less stressful, less like bootcamp (now, the new BC got rid of most of the procedures (dining, lights out, etc) & BCT-style restrictions), but no less picky....
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:36:22 PM EDT
it was like that in '01 when i was there..... and that is true, he would get eaten alive when he got to the fleet from the enlisted side and officer side also.... The Marine Corps isn't a be-nice place.... trust me and it sucks even more being at the bottom as lil 'ole PFC me is...

-Roth
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:39:51 PM EDT
I met plenty of knuckleheads who were officers, why did they single out him?
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:45:20 PM EDT
ChapperJoe, go in with the attitude that you won't be able to do it.... and you won't be able to do it.

Applying for PLC this year, gotta get first semester GPA, then submit the application. I can't even sleep at night, the anticipation is killing me.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:49:50 PM EDT
Post of the day. Thanks, I needed that.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:51:52 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2005 8:52:40 PM EDT by eodtech2000]

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

I've never even given 100% much less 110%! This guy gave 110% and wasn't up to snuff!



Trust me, you have no farking idea the changes Basic Training/Boot Camp and the Military way of life changes one's total outlook in life. Giving 110% will become the norm, as failure is NOT an option, be surprised how much of a motivator that is. That is what got me through EOD school because I was NOT going to fail, I was only one of 6 out of my original class of 40 who got pinned with the "Crab"!!!!

Put it another way, the second your bus arrives at Paris Island or say any Army Basic Training Post, the life you knew and your civilian thought processes come to a farking train wreck end.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 8:52:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By tfod:
I met plenty of knuckleheads who were officers, why did they single out him?



They can't get all the knuckleheads....I know some guys graduated who I have pretty low confidence in. But they do try.
Link Posted: 9/15/2005 9:58:39 PM EDT
The article is 100% the truth. I attendend Marine OCS the summer of 2003. I did not, however, graduate. As a matter of fact, I was dropped on a Monday when graduation was on the upcoming Friday (and no it was not for lying/stealing/etc).

I felt at the time that I had the requisite leadership skills, but as the article says the CO's decision is final. I try not to be bitter, but I still vehemently disagree to this day with his call (especially when I think of some of the knuckleheads that ended up graduating).

Not a day goes by that I don't think about my time there and wish it had worked out differently. Lord knows I'd be living a different life right now.
Link Posted: 9/16/2005 3:12:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:

I've never even given 100% much less 110%! This guy gave 110% and wasn't up to snuff!



Trust me, you have no farking idea the changes Basic Training/Boot Camp and the Military way of life changes one's total outlook in life. Giving 110% will become the norm, as failure is NOT an option, be surprised how much of a motivator that is. That is what got me through EOD school because I was NOT going to fail, I was only one of 6 out of my original class of 40 who got pinned with the "Crab"!!!!

Put it another way, the second your bus arrives at Paris Island or say any Army Basic Training Post, the life you knew and your civilian thought processes come to a farking train wreck end.



I honesetly would KILL for the motivation and fortitude and pride that come with being a Marine. I've been doing a lot of research and talking to recruiters in teh past couple of months and I'm almost sold.

IT actually all started, i kid you not, on ARfkom when I failed to capitalize the word Marine and insulted a longtime board member cause I was an ass. After that I looked into the matter and really sat down and thought about it and decided that if I was to go into an officers program I would not half ass it and would go USMC. Recruiter basically told me I've got 18 months (left in grad school) to get my ass in shape and I should get to work before they do! But really, it all started here. I think I spend WAY too much time here.
Link Posted: 9/16/2005 3:41:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/16/2005 3:42:23 AM EDT by hardcorps1775]

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:
I think I spend WAY too much time here.


heh, can't be that bad if they got you thinking about serving your country as a marine officer!

to me, being a leader of men (and women) is the ultimate aspiration. to lead them in combat, to make them bend to your will, to make them WANT to do things no sane person would do in a million years, is the pinnacle.

everything else is filler.

ETA: thanks for the article, i hope you'll post the others!
Link Posted: 9/16/2005 7:03:58 AM EDT

Originally Posted By chapperjoe:


IT actually all started, i kid you not, on ARfkom when I failed to capitalize the word Marine



A Marine will go ape shit over that. That kind of pride and respect for an organization doesn't come cheap or easy. The Corps makes Marines for life.
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