I am an active duty officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. All views expressed in this blog are my personal views as an individual and not those of the Marine Corps or the Department of Defense.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Friends,
As most of you know, I am now at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. It is a 10-week indoctrination training, the most difficult in the U.S. military – 40% of the candidates who start with me will not finish. For the first four weeks (or so) I won't have access to a phone or computer, so my only way to be in touch with the world will be via regular mail. Here is my mailing address:

Officer Candidates School, D Company, 3 Platoon
2189 Elrod Avenue
Quantico, Virginia 22134-5033

I would love to get letters from you, which will help keep up my morale during this challenging time. Please don't send anything but letters though – packages, pictures or anything else would be a bad idea. I'll do my best to write back but I might not be able to at first. Please know that I am still receiving your letters and that they mean a lot to me.

In other news, I hope everything is going well in your lives, and I look forward to catching up with you once I'm reconnected with the world!

Semper Fi

Friday, October 10, 2008

OCS First Impressions

October 4 2008

Everything is well, nothing has really happened yet except that I had to buy (like everyone else), 80% of everything we already bought. It’s not cheap becoming a Marine. I was given a set of paper and envelopes so time permitting I will try to write you and the family.

This is going to be tough but survivable. Looking forward to hearing from you.

2008 10 07

I am doing very well here. Of course we haven’t really started yet – we haven’t met our instructors even. But we ran our inventory PFT and I did far better than I’ve ever done before – 18 pull-ups (max 20), 100 sit-ups (max 100) and a 30mile run in 20:39 (max 18:00). That was good for a 274 out of 300, beating my previous score by 24 and my previous 3-mile time by over 1:20.
So what this means is that I will (probably) make it physically – this had been my biggest concern. I’m certainly in the top 50% - a good start. I’m also in very high spirits, notwithstanding 3 hours of sleep or less per night (including the 3 nights before the PFT!).
I thought it might be nice, if you have the patience to type them, to post my letters to you on my blog so others can keep up with my experience. It would only be fore the first few weeks until I get weekend liberty, then I’ll post entries myself.

In other news, I find myself one of the candidates that looks out for the platoon, making sure we’re doing things uniformly. I’m not a leader by any means – those are the prior enlisteds – but I’m a helper of sorts. I’ll get to the leadership part later, I’m sure.

Overall, the military is what you’d expect – a certain way to do everything (how to sit when eating, how to lace boots, how to stencil name on shirts, how to, of course, make the rack (bed)). The food isn’t half bad – all the things I’d been avoiding like cookies and Frosted Flakes. I attribute my performance on the PFT largely to Tony the Tiger. The men (boys, many) are mostly a stand-up bunch, looking out for each other, helpful, and, unlike in some other platoons, more-or-less competent.

Perhaps most importantly, I haven’t gotten singled out yet. That will change, especially once we meet our instructors. Everyone gets screamed at – they want to see if you let it get to you (the stress) and if not, they move on to the next candidate.

That’s not to say I haven’t screwed up – I have, lots of times. A screw up is generally disobeying an order, like laughing (strictly forbidden in formation or pretty much anywhere else) or running when you’re supposed to walk, etc. etc. But I’ve been lucky – just haven’t been caught.

Speaking of laughing, this place is hilarious. I don’t know if it would seem that way to someone who hasn’t been here, but, for instance, I think anyone can appreciate the humor when a Gunnery Sergeant asks a candidate, “Are you fat?” And the candidate answers “No, Gunnery Sergeant, this candidate just has big hips.” That kind of stuff happens all the time here. There’s a candidate with a very Polish last name and the troop handlers (the sergeants, etc.) just call him alphabet. Another’s name is something like Psyhogium or something, so they just call him psycho. There is nothing like trying to keep your bearing (composure) when a huge, very angry Sergeant doing roll call calls out in a loud voice “Psycho!” and a candidate answers, “here, Sergeant!”

OK well I’ll stop because if you are posting this on my blog for me there’s already a lot to type. You can title the posting “OCS – first impressions” or some such.

Thank you in advance for that, and for supporting me in this decision. And try to get a good night’s sleep. I’m doing very well here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Off to OCS - write me!

I'm off to Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in just a few hours. Wish I had more time to share some of my experiences since my last entry and some of my thoughts about what I'm about to experience, but I need to get a few hours of sleep. So I'll just say that I hope to get lots of letters and if for some reason you don't get an e-mail from my brother some time next week with my mailing address at OCS, you can e-mail him for it at XXXXXXXX@gmail.com.

If you want to get an idea of what I'm up to at OCS, check out www.ocs.usmc.mil.