OCS Families

The Insiders Guide to 2017 OCS Graduation/Family Day

Welcome Marine OCS Family and Friends! This is your definitive guide (updated for 2017) to navigating OCS Family Day and Graduation from those who have done it before. Think of it as your free travel guide to OCS.

OCS Family
Candidates on the parade deck about to be released for Family Day

The day has finally come after long weeks of separation and it’s time to see your candidate walk across the parade deck at Brown Field. They appreciate all your support and mail more than you know. Here are some tips to help streamline your visit:

Vehicle Transportation

It is highly recommended to rent a vehicle while in Quantico. There is no readily-available public transportation on base and no hotels within walking distance.

PLC Juniors vs PLC Seniors?

There are two basic differences between a candidate completing the 6-week Juniors course and a candidate completing the Seniors or 10-week course. Candidates completing Platoon Leaders Class Juniors will return for another six weeks and are not yet considered Marines. The completion ceremony is relatively short (usually about 30 minutes). Candidates completing the Seniors Increment or 10-week (Platoon Leaders Class-Combined or Officer Candidate Course) have earned the title. That ceremony is longer. The graduation events are split into two sections below.

OCS family and friends can read about the training and evaluation process your candidate has gone through.

Key Terms/Locations

Brown Field: The physical location of OCS. Alternatively used as a name for OCS. Get driving directions to Brown Field here.

The Bridge (Bobo Chow Hall Bridge): This is the bridge directly before Brown Field (OCS). OCS family and friends will not be allowed past the bridge until family day and graduation. All other visitors and vehicles are not allowed past the bridge except on graduation day.

Platoon: About 45 candidates. Four platoons make up a company. A platoon lives in the same squad bay and has the same Sergeant Instructors and Platoon Commander.

OCS Family
A Platoon

Company: About 200 Candidates. This is the group your candidate has been training and living with for the time they have been at OCS. Each company lives on a different floor of the barracks. Candidates have little contact with other companies during training.

OCS Family
A Company

OCS Family Day (Day Before Graduation)

Here’s a sample schedule with notes. Information provided by U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School Facebook Page

Juniors Increment(s)

0630 Commanding Officer’s Motivational Run

  • See the run route and popular viewing areas here
  • Family(s) will find a spot along the run route and wait for their candidate to pass.
  • Each platoon will have their own shirt. Ask your candidate about the color and design of their platoon shirt. Knowing this makes it easier to find them.
  • Bring camping chairs if you have older family or someone with mobility issues.
OCS Family
Families cheer candidates as they run past

0800 Family Day Orientation Brief

  • An informal, hour-long presentation led by the OCS Commanding Officer (CO), and provides an overview of officer candidate training and an opportunity to ask questions to the CO.
  • Candidates will return to the barracks after the motto run to prepare for the completion ceremony.

0950 Traffic Secured on Brown Field Until After the Completion Ceremony

  • Vehicle access is restricted.

1000 Completion Ceremony Begins

  • See the assembled platoons as they reach the conclusion of the first 6 weeks of OCS.

1030 Completion Ceremony Ends. Juniors Depart OCS.

Note: Juniors will have a motivational run and completion ceremony on the same day. This is different from families attending the Seniors graduation.

For more information check out our OCS Families section.

Seniors/10-Week Program

Here’s a sample schedule with notes. Information provided by U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School Facebook Page

0800 Commanding Officer’s Motivational Run

  • See the run route and popular viewing areas here
  • Family(s) will find a spot along the run route and wait for their candidate to pass.
  • Each platoon will have their own shirt. Ask your candidate about the color and design of their platoon shirt. Knowing this makes it easier to find them.
  • Bring chairs if you have older family or someone with mobility issues

0930 Family Day Orientation Brief

  • An informal, hour-long presentation led by the OCS Commanding Officer (CO) and provides an overview of officer candidate training and an opportunity to ask questions to the CO.
  • Candidates will return to the barracks after the motto run to shower and spend time together with each other and the Sergeant Instructors. This time as Marines.

OCS Family

1030 Liberty Begins

  • After the Orientation, candidates are granted liberty where they may show their guests around Marine Corps Base Quantico, or otherwise spend time with their guests in the local area.
  • Candidates will be released for several hours of liberty (time with family). Each Training company (i.e. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta) will be released at a different time. The time on liberty will be the same, but the start and end times are staggered to alleviate traffic.  Please allow plenty of time for the candidates to be aboard Brown Field early.
  • Make dinner reservations or plan on getting takeout so you don’t have to wait in line for hours. Stafford and Potomac Mills have a variety of food options.

1800 Liberty Secures

  • All candidates will be back in the barracks and will not be released until after graduation the next day.

For more information check out our Families section

Graduation Ceremony

Sample Schedule with Notes:

0600 Brown Field Opens for Parking

  • Get there early to get a good spot. In the military, on time is late.
  • Ask your candidate where their platoon will be during graduation. Sit in a bleacher facing them.
  • Not sure what to buy your candidate for graduation? Find some inspiration.

0800 Graduation Parade begins

OCS Family

0900 Graduation Parade Ends

1030 Commissioning begins

  • Commissioning ceremonies will begin at a location designated by the Commanding Officer.
  • It is recommended to attend commissioning even if you are not a direct commission candidate. Watch how it happens so your own goes smoothly.
OCS Family
Until you have taken the oath and gotten pinned, you are not an officer.

Read more about family day, graduation and commissioning here.

Don’t forget a Silver dollar coin for your new Lieutenant’s first salute!
Silver Dollars on Amazon

TBS-Bound Lieutenants

Direct commission Lieutenants will need to check into TBS on the day of graduation. Candidates Platoon staff will have more information on this as they near graduation. Don’t forget to get your new Lieutenant a helpful gift for TBS.

These are usually OCC graduates, versus PLC.

Times and locations for graduations are subject to change. The Official OCS page will have the most up to date information on times, maps, and parking.

Reverse Culture Shock

Your Candidate has undergone a life-changing experience while at OCS. Being at OCS is much like going on a foreign exchange trip and you should be aware that there may be some reverse culture shock and a “re-entry” period of re-adjustment. This is particularly true for candidates who are not going directly to TBS.

I remember on the day I graduated, we left Brown Field, had lunch and then everyone else took a nap. I just sat there. Unsure what to do with so much free time. Time I hadn’t had for 10 weeks.

Be aware that your candidate is hyper focused and on edge about the rules they had to follow as a candidate. It will take some time to adjust back to civilian life. Friends of mine told me that they would get annoyed by little things like a misaligned belt or the “slow” pace that their family was walking at. Having food choices is almost like a new experience. It’s also common for recent candidates to wake up and think they are back at OCS. Or they might start walking in a formation with you, without realizing it. Even speaking in first person rather than, “This candidate” or “The candidate” will be a transition. Using normal non-nautical terms may take time as well. Be prepared for a lot of OCS “War stories.”

So there I was! Knife hands flying everywhere…It was just like Full Metal Jacket.

Be patient with your candidate/Marine and be aware that they will be mentally processing a lot as they leave OCS.

Marine Corps Museum

History is like religion for Marines. To learn more about what your candidates have been learning at OCS, I would recommend a trip to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Admission is free.

Note: In the past, commissioning was done in the museum. This is no longer the case and commissioning location is determined by the Commanding Officer.

OCS family and friends, what other questions do you have about graduation or traveling to OCS?

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