JOHNSTON, Iowa – The path to becoming a U.S. Marine is not easy. The path to becoming a Marine officer is even harder.
The obstacles and challenges men and women face at Officer Candidate School, or OCS, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, are demanding and for good reason.
Officer selection officers from across the Midwest physically and mentally prepared its applicants with an OCS preparation weekend April 21-23, at Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa.
“It is hands down one of the best opportunities future candidates of the Marine Corps have to come and find out more about Officer Candidate School,” said Capt. Alice Stoddard, the officer selection officer in St. Louis, Missouri. “This event really pulls back the curtain a bit and shows them what they’re about to step into.”
The entire event consisted of leadership training, close order drill, basic weapons handling, physical fitness and more.
“The biggest thing I see candidates struggle with at OCS is physical fitness,” said GySgt. Brody Goldthwaite, a sergeant instructor at OCS. “We gave them a small taste of what it’s like and for some of them it was a wakeup call. But it’ll help them get ready and it’ll be one less thing to worry about.”
The path to becoming a Marine Corps officer begins with the officer selection officer, or OSO, long before attending an OCS preparation weekend. The OSO will answer questions and help decide which commissioning program best suits an individual and the needs of the Corps. Once an individual makes the commitment to become an officer, their OSO will guide them through a physical training regimen, with events like the OCS preparation weekend and prepare them for the challenge of becoming an officer.
“My job is to find individuals with the potential to lead. Then, I train, screen and mentor them,” said Stoddard. “We only want quality officers leading Marines. We are only looking for the best, the brightest and the most competitive.”
With more than 250 future officer candidates in attendance, the Marine Corps’ OCS preparation weekend was deemed a success by one of its participants.
“I learned a lot about small unit leadership,” said Zachary Henry, who leaves for OCS June 9. “Every little thing I learned here has been such a help and I feel more confident about heading to Quantico in the summer.”