The Almost Officer: What Marine OCS is like and how I got dropped two weeks from graduation. Part 3 of 4

After writing the first two articles in this series, I realized that my memories from OCS (and the USMC in general) are still pretty vivid. I’m going to hold off my actual experience (what led me to get dropped) until I can disassociate my personal feelings from the article. What I would like to present now are snapshots of different scenarios and people that I encountered in 8 weeks at Quantico. Names have been changed to protect people’s anonymity.

There are multiple “open forums” where leadership scenarios are given to the entire company to discuss how they would act. Since everyone is being evaluated at all times, there is someone in the back taking notes to see who says what. Because of this, candidates are basically expected to spew out moto-bullshit that involves mass punishments. One example went something like this:
LCpl Schmuckatelli is on barracks duty and you, as OOD encounter him while making your rounds. LCpl Schmuckatelli reports his post and you notice him reading an unauthorized book (aka not on the commandant’s reading list). If I remember correctly, I think the book was Jurassic Park. What do you do?

Apparently the correct answer is to NJP the junior Marine. The wrong answer was to ask an entire company of candidates (most of whom had never stood a 24 hour post) if they had ever read a book on the commandant’s reading list. They didn’t seem to understand that reading ‘First to Fight’ would make you ‘First to Sleep’ on duty.

Which brings me to one guy I will never forget, Candidate Ian Reid (fake name). He was constantly on the prowl to correct his fellow candidates (yelling at them for not locking out their legs during flutter kicks or snapping his fingers during formations). He was one of those busy body types who spent most of his time trying to find other people fucking up, rather than minding his own business (this is the type of person that OCS absolutely adores). One thing he used to do, which really infuriated me, was every time a candidate got dropped and their name was called for mail deliveries, he would yell at the top of his lungs, “KIA, GySgt, KIA.” For some weird reason, people liked this shit. I thought it disrespected those Marines who actually died in combat, a role that he as a reservist would probably not see too much of.

The last scenario that I remembered was a platoon “mentorship” session with our commander, Captain Bragan (fake name). I forget the context and the discussion even, but somehow the subject of working parties came up. He said something like: “Use your junior Marines, that’s what they are there for.”

So, if you’re curious about some of the stuff they are teaching junior officers at OCS nowadays, now you know. NJP people for reading the wrong book on duty and junior Marines exist only to be slaves who clean.

Submitted by: Motoboner

  • xyzold

    “Since everyone is being evaluated at all times, there is someone in the back taking notes to see who says what”
    So whoever that person was must have been one hell of a stenographer, and had intimate knowledge of every single candidate (out of an entire company) in your OCS class!
    I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt (!). Stupid shit does happen in OCS, OCC and TBS.

    • motoboner

      Since you’ve been there, you know that these scenarios and “discussions” are not far fetched at all. I’m not suggesting that one person at OCS is writing down everything everyone is ever saying. What I am saying that someone is always watching, ensuring that you “toe the line.” So, people just get up and say ridiculous shit like “NJP people for reading Jurassic Park” knowing full well that does not make any sort of sense at all.

      Just like in the fleet, there is no “open discussion” at OCS. All conversations are one way.

      • xyzold

        You are not wrong, and your experience is far more recent than mine. Literally, you could say I went to OCC one generation (16 years ago)!

        I am fully onboard with your basic message, and don’t deny that there were plenty of Officers with major sticks up their buttholes who (once they saw how the FMF political game works) wouldn’t hesitate to use and abuse the enlisted for their own career ends!

        It’s just that in the context of my experience, we were more open about expressing opinions, and NO ONE would have endorsed or recommended NJPing someone for something so trivial!

        btw in my class we had exactly the same extreme motard ass kisser named Ny**** who acted exactly the same as your example. Being a prior , I told Candidate Ny*** to go fuck himself more than once when he tried to get into my business, and even the Sgt Instructors started to see through his moto loudmouth bullshit for what it was.

        Not blowing my own horn, but I was rated as one of the top three candidates of my platoon , and Candidate butt kisser was not in that list.

        The biggest concern I have is that if OCS has changed to the point where they endorse such lack of respect for junior enlisted, and have zero tolerance for any dissension or ‘out of the box’ thought , then Marine Corps basic officer training is only succeeding at producing institutionalized cookie cutter yes men- not creative, flexible and independent TRUE LEADERS!

        I fully recognize that you were smart enough to see that, and respect what you have written so far.

        • motoboner

          I think people were too scared to get dropped or highlight themselves. So during this one discussion about Jurassic Park and the LCpl, a bunch of candidates stood up and said shit like: “This is OCS. If you can’t follow the rules, go home.”

          • Motoboner

            And I believe the reason for pushing NJP was because it wasn’t a “serious” punishment, like a court martial.

          • Walt

            I went through OCS in 1981 so my experience is pretty dated I guess. Plus I had been to Parris Island first, so OCS was – well, it seemed low stress compared to PI. But just to address your one comment, having NJPs on your record will whack your cutting score and have many other deleterious effects. I remember we had to pick junior Marines for something, and they couldn’t have more than two adverse page 11 entries. And just by the way – I was lieutenants with the lieutenant who helped General Gray write “First to Fight.”

  • My favorite part was “reading first to fight will make you first to sleep.”

    Well said.

    • motoboner

      I mean…. shit. Without energy drinks and a laptop, there’s no way you can make it through duty. I don’t understand how there’s even any denying this.

      How many ridiculous commands have Marines sitting in chucks for 24 hours reading “A message to Garcia” all day?