The Almost Officer: What Marine OCS is like and how I got dropped two weeks from graduation. Part 1 of 4

I enlisted with a college degree in 2007.

At the time, I didn’t know any better and took the advice of my recruiter who told me that I would have more respect by going into the Marine Corps the “right way.” Still, I drank the kool-aid and dove head first into the experience. At the time, I was a caricature of the most moto-motard. I PT’d on my free time. On weekends I did MCIs and practiced MCMAP. I rarely went out, and spent most of my weekends field daying my room. No joke. I didn’t want to get in trouble by doing anything that even remotely place me in a situation where I could get burned. In my first year in, I listened to my SNCOs who told me not to get discouraged by my demotivated peers; that they were demotivated because they chose to be. It was their fault that they didn’t give a fuck, if they were not promoted or if they ever got an NJP.
By the time I got back from my second deployment, I knew better. By that point, I had seen enough examples of horrendous leadership that I knew there was no way in fucking hell I was going to re-enlist. Whether it was the Gunny who didn’t allow the paperwork for 10 Marines who I taught and tested out for MCMAP belts to be processed because I taught an “illegal course” (Once our CO got his black belt, he decided that MCMAP was too dangerous so he banned it for everyone else on deployment), or the SSgts who searched our hooches for “contraband” aka porn (which they themselves sometimes gave us) so they could write charge sheets …..the people on this site know the drill. There are too many examples of shit like this to even attempt to list them all.

Still, by the time I hit year 4/5 in my contract I decided to reach down into my cargo pocket for one last bit of motivation. I was going to put in an officer package. In my opinion, there is no way in hell that any enlisted personnel have a legitimate shot at actually taking care of their Marines since most of the time they were just “following orders.” Hell, most of the time it was unchecked SNCOs taking their rank too literally that was the problem. Since my MOS was indefinitely closed, my only chance to try to end this cycle was to literally outrank some of the retarded motherfuckers that I had the displeasure of serving under.

Even though I had more awards, deployments, and training than most of my supervisors (air wing has pathetically low standards), the political nature of life as a junior marine made this task almost unbearable. While I was able to secure more than 10 letters of recommendation, none of them actually came from anyone WITHIN my chain of command. I could not trust any of them, as I saw one of my Gunnys tell a Sgt who was on his way out to list him as a job reference only to brag about purposely giving him a shitty recommendation. So, I was forced to look for people I worked for, under TAD or deployment. Luckily, there were plenty of people willing to write good things, so I wasn’t worried. However, once I started to route paperwork up, things got interesting. I started getting ass-chewings galore for going behind people’s backs and all that happy horse shit about how I don’t respect the chain of command. Some of the senior Marines who did write me recommendations and who happened to also be located close by were called by my OIC to ask why they gave me recommendations.

In the end, the recommendations stuck and I was recommended with enthusiasm by everyone on up to the CG to go to OCS. After four years of continuously striving to better myself but being let down by terrible leadership, I finally felt like the hard work had paid off. When the MARADMIN came out, several SNCOs who made a career out of ruining others came to shake my hand. I just stared at them. I couldn’t outright tell them to go fuck themselves, but this little victory was close enough. I was soon going to outrank them (which was something that any SNCO detests). Or so I thought.

Submitted by: Motoboner

  • I’m laughing at the idea of you on a Saturday, flaring the heel as you throw vertical downward hammer fists in a MCMAP pit.

    You were basically a walking USMC recruiting poster: “While the Enemy Sleeps, He Is Training to Keep Us Safe.”

    Can’t wait to read the rest of this story.

    • motoboner

      You would think that is an exaggeration, but it is exactly what I would do on weekends. I’d be teaching in the damn MCMAP pit, because my unit didn’t give instructors time to teach during the week. So, I would hold courses during weekends, on occasion. When you are a single Marine in Yuma, AZ there is literally nothing else to do. Except maybe drink yourself silly. Looking back, I was such a dumb ass, but I took all that propaganda so seriously. I was such a fucking boot.

      • I totally believe it, but actually imagined you alone.

        “Flare the heel,” you’d say to yourself, “flare the heel.”

        And you would.

        I personally was a huge slut for the Corps early on. Once in boot camp we’re getting IT’d in the sandpit, and it’s summer, and it’s terrible. But I remember thinking (and I’m not kidding) “he’s making me into a marine.”

        That’s embarrassing, but it’s that faithful belief that makes the time in so much easier. When you lose it, the shit just crawls.

        • Motoboner

          It is embarrassing. I got the name motoboner from a friend of mine one day seeing me running around in a flak jacket. He said I gave him a “moto boner.”

  • oldr

    Should be an interesting series of articles. I was a ‘mustang’ Officer, but got out of the enlisted ranks and reapplied while in college. I knew a Cpl and a Sergeant who went MECEP (or ECP), and they had to do a LOT of the work themselves, and had to deal with angry, hotheaded, petulant senior NCOS!
    I’ll never forget one Sgt working adjacent to me in the SOTG building who was pleading with a 1st Sgt ( an ignorant, stupid hillbilly who was jealous that a junior enlisted was doing something better than what he did) to sign off on some paperwork, and the 1st Sgt was yelling at him for whatever reason. This Sgt had to do a lot of ass kissing- always telling Officers he wanted to be an Infantry Officer- which I knew was complete and utter bullshit
    My impression is that these commissioning programs are offered, but they take a Hell of a lot of work and persistence – with no shortage of senior NCO’s and other Officers trying to throw obstacles in your way! They judge by standards that would be difficult for even Jesus H Christ- just to make sure NOT TOO MANY QUALIFIED ENLISTED GET THE PROGRAM!
    Being a ‘prior’ at OCS, I am well aware of some of the stupid bullshit the instructors play just to mess with prior service ( just to make it more aggravating than it needs to be). It will be interesting to read about your experience.
    Shame that something bad happened to you. This reads like you were the type of Marine the Officer Corps NEEDED (whether it realised it or not), but I acknowledge that there is no shortage of Officers with their heads so far up their ass- or too obsessed with their own self importance.
    Best Regards

    • motoboner

      It definitely was a needlessly complicated process and took a lot of full time work on my part to build a package that needed to essentially be “bulletproof”. The whole point, as you know, is that they want to see how badly you want to be an officer/lead marines. So they’ll offer little to no help/guidance and throw anything and everything in your way.

      When I came back to my unit, there was definitely some sympathy from select people who felt that I, “of all people” should have made it through. It is what it is.

      • oldr

        My experience does pre date yours by a number of years, and when I finally went to OCS the economy was doing well ( ie college grads not that interested in the military), plus prior to the 2nd war in Iraq. But it ain’t as difficult if you apply as a college student.
        Trust me- if you had already been an outstanding enlisted Marine if I could have magically shown you some of the ‘take a test smart but otherwise stupid’ Officer ‘candidates’ that I saw going through, you’d be pissed that the system screwed you.
        An OCS story I have is that one particularly vindictive Company GySgt ( in his zealotry about ‘Integrity’) dropped a candidate because he supposedly hadn’t been truthful about whether he had shaved that prior evening. To make a long story short, this shithead of a Gysgt manufactured a story about the candidate lying that he shaved that morning, as opposed to the late last evening. Most probably just an excuse to drop a body, and/or achieve a certain attrition rate to look good on paper.
        I’ll guess i’ll read what happened, but I’ve seen how the system can screw good people.

        • Master LCpl

          If you wish to submit the story in more detail I would be glad to look it over and publish it. You know how to contact me or you can use the submission form on the main page.

          • oldr

            I could- I’m at work right now, but for some reason am always intrigued by what’s posted on this web site.
            Mind you- it was over 14 plus years ago ( am being deliberate vague about dates because posting on the web has a lot more risk to it than it did years ago), I’d have to hunt through that yearbook/album they gave you at the end of it, so ultimately it could not be verified with old documentation for example. I did not have access to that candidates record- only that they built up a case against him with Integrity Violation being at the top of their made up list of ‘transgressions’.
            To me now, OCS was like a memory blur of yelling, PT, cleaning, classes, counting how many times across that stupid bridge- but incidents like this do stick out.

          • old

            To be honest, I’d just as soon type out a comment.
            Earlier I used the acronym OCS. To be technically correct, I attended OCC in the summer of the last year of the 20th century. I never forgot the names of my drill instructors when I went to boot camp in the early 90s, but I’d have to look up the names of my Sgt instructors, Company GySgt, senior Captain et al in that album we were given. Its packed away in old footlocker with all my old uniforms- half of which I only wore once a friggin year( some not even that!)
            I remember their names, faces and personalities. What I’m getting at is that the dynamic you have with them is different than MCRD because you are there more to become a leader- as opposed to a boot camp follower. They are all still complete assholes who’ll never miss an opportunity to fuck with you.
            I can tell you about the absolute pain in the ass it was to WRITE ESSAYS whenever you were ‘punished’- so it doesn’t surprise me that a candidate would be judge on a bio. Lets just say you don’t do you best writing at 0300 in head, after you’ve just finishing polishing brass, shining boots etc, and you have to write out 500 words of BS on ‘What leadership means to you?”
            The other candidate who ended up getting dropped was in a different platoon from mine ( adjacent to my squad bay), and I’ll never forget the yelling the asshole 1st Sgt did at the uniform inspection. I guess he had shaved like at 1200 the previous at night, but was tired and missed a small spot, and the 1st Sgt tugged on his stubble the next morning. The 1st Sgt adamantly insisted that the candidate had answered him twice that he shaved that morning, but in reality he had hastily shaved before 1200 the night before!
            He got dropped as an Integrity Violator, and we were all aware of it because it they used it to instill more fear in us. Technically, I’m sure there was more to it, because they usually ‘build up a case’ to drop candidates who the instructors feel are not suited to the Corps. The guy was a recent college grad who physically fit, but had no previous experience in the Corps- especially with the minor nuances of USMC inspections.
            Overall, we ended up dropping more candidates before the cycle was over with. And even with my prior 0311, plus Reserve experience, they threatened to give me the boot more than once. The 1st Sgt sticks out in my memory, because they made me a1st Sgt of the Company for a week, and I had to deal with that angry prick who pulled stupid shit to make it harder. He knew that I knew the games they were playing were just training harassment, so ( for example) he refused to give me a map of the training areas the company was humping out to- just to set me up for a failure. “It makes you adapt and overcome Candidate!!!” -yeah Fuck you too!
            My impression of the enlisted Instructors there was that ( even though they never openly admitted it) they hated the long hours, early morning reveille, dealing with college grads who they knew were going to get better pay/benefits than them.
            Looking back, as a younger and far more USMC motivated person, overall I’m glad I went, graduated and moved on to a career in FMF. The disillusionment only began with the clusterfuck in Iraq, starting with the invasion( which I thought was unnecessary), and the occupation.
            You have to be an extremely good politician to be a long term career Officer. That was my weakness, because I respect honest web sites like this.

          • old

            In a previous comment I initially identified a Company GySgt that ‘dropped the candidate’ because of the shaving issue.
            The longer description ( based on a more thought out remembrance) identifies the proper rank , a 1st Sgt , that conducted the inspection, and decided to punish the candidate for it. The Company GySgt did initially announce it to us though.
            I fully realise this inconsistency has severely damaged the whole credibility of the story, plus put doubts on my contribution. The events are now 18 years old- with no verifiable way to prove it, other than faith on memory.
            Bottom line- I cant prove any of this because I kept no paper record of it. Call me a liar ( and an idiot) if you want, but this event did happen, and is consistent with the mentality you encounter if you decide to go OCS training.
            Now I have to eat my words about ‘I’ll never forget”.

          • Motoboner

            My Sgt instructors used to say that they didn’t drop candidates. Candidates dropped themselves.

          • o

            Do you feel that that’s what happened to you-or, is there more dimension to your story about why you were dropped two weeks prior to graduation?
            I submitted my input above because I’ve always maintained a strong suspicion that that was an example of a candidate who was capable of making it, but was dropped because he wasn’t liked by the right people, to reaffirm a hotheaded ideal by a senior enlisted rank, and to contribute to an attrition rate.
            I personally did graduate and moved on to TBS, MOS school etc, but there’s a saying “There but the grace of God Go I” meaning that other peoples misfortune could have easily been your own.
            Damocles Sword is also another artsy-fartsy metaphor about how they can fuck you.

          • motoboner

            Well, I will finish my story in due course, and let you be the judge. At this point, everyone has a good BS meter because Marines complain all the time. There are situations where people fuck themselves over by doing things like smoking weed or getting a dui and then blaming the marine corps for it. I’m not one of those people, and I own up to things. There’s a reason why I’m giving two parts of a back story; to tell it right and put it in perspective.

        • Motoboner

          I’m not surprised by that at alll, and I intend to give my own example of the stupidity that I saw in 2011, when the economy wasn’t doing so well, and standards had supposedly risen.

          Offhand, one guy was sent home because he told a joke in his written biography and OCS is a “seriois” place. The guy had a family, quit an important job, and he was sent home because someone didn’t like his bio. This was week 1, so he didn’t yet get a chance to establish himself as a “problem” candidate yet.