Many thanks to a gracious Second Lieutenant at TBS who took part in a Q & A session with us to share advice after his recent graduation from OCS. Feel free to follow up with any questions or comments of your own below!
How would you characterize your overall experience at OCS?
My experience at OCS was that of an up/down adventure. There are good days, the days where you can avoid being blasted and actually gaining knowledge from the staff’s varied experience. The bad days (which happen often) are the days where things seemingly go wrong at every corner. I remember a day where one of my boot blouses came off and we were drilling on the parade deck and I became a fast for our Sergeant Instructors about appearance, which led to a chit. This type of chastising was a daily, almost hourly, basis for a candidate throughout the POI. Looking back at it, I enjoyed every second of it. Now, at TBS, Lts are always joking and reminiscing about our OCS days, which always leads to us having a good collective laugh. I would do it over again in a heartbeat. Certainly glad I do not have to though!
What was the toughest part for you?
The toughest part for me was lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation caused every part of me to slowly become less than 100%. The issue is without proper sleep the body does not have adequate time to recover. Our OCC PT’d roughly 5-6 days a week so without the proper sleep the body cannot physically keep up and it led to mental fatigue and just wrecked havoc on me for most of OCS. That combined with an “upper respiratory infection” (verbatim from my chit) recovery was the one thing I did not have at OCS and it made the day-to-day process of basic function very difficult.
How did you prepare?
I prepared by ramping up all my workouts significantly. I bought a pair of Bates Lites and did a lot of boots and utes type workouts alone and with my OSO. The most genuine help came from my father. My father is still a USMC Sergeant Major, and he put me in contact with Lts who had recently gone through who could provide insight on what type of things to expect and what to do and what NOT to do.
What did you wish you had or knew ahead of time?
The Quantico terrain. This to me was the most difficult adjustment physically was the terrain and trails of Brown Field. I’m from Southern California and we have hills and trails but I did not utilize them much. I wish I would have started trail running for at least 4-5 miles ahead of time. Almost all of our runs were in the tree line, which is a terrible trail with roots and rocks that I was unprepared for. the transition from street running to trail was an adjustment I had to make quickly because one of the first PT sessions was junior’s fartlek through the tree line.
What was the craziest experience at OCS?
Where to begin? The craziest experience of OCS to me was I would say our 9.3 mile hike that we were woken up for at 0030. That hike led to SULE II which is another long distance event with the buddy rushes and trails involved wth that. We finished that around 1630/1700. Then we went into Peer evals in the squad bay to around 1900. The longest day at OCS by far with the fewest hours of sleep. Quite a day.
What were you glad you brought with you?
Bates Lites. Easy answer. The boots given to you, in my opinion, are not very good for running in. When the boots and utes workouts began, around week 3, Bates Lites made my life super easy. They are great for running and doing the workouts at OCS. They continue to be my boots and utes choice here at TBS as well.
[Bates Boots Review post here]
Any parting advice for others?
- Do not take things personally. I came to terms before shipping that I’m going to get blasted. I’m going to be tired. I’m going to be hurt. Do not take what the Sergeant Instructors personally, they are just doing their jobs to screen and evaluate you, and put out. You can tell the candidates who do not put out because they seem to get blasted more than the rest of us. They are also the ones who usually do not make it.
- PUT OUT 100%!
- In my opinion if you show up and are able to be humble and correct the deficiencies the instructors point out as well as putting your max effort into your day to day functioning and you will make it. I do not remember seeing a candidate who constantly put effort into the day that got sent home.
- Remember why you are at OCS in the first place. If you can remember through all the chaos that you will someday get to lead the members of the greatest war-fighting organization in the world, everything you do will be worth it.
After all, Leading Marines should be one of the top reasons you are at OCS.
Oorah and thanks so much for your guest post, Lt!