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.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Half way there; DC next wknd?

Made it through another week. It started out moderately challenging with a long run and some misery-inducing activities but I felt pretty good at first. By the next night though, I was running a pretty bad fever - this is not a good thing. If you get SIQ (sick in quarters or basically restricted to your rack) you better get better fast, and even if you do, you're on the radar. Somehow, with some vitamins and lots of layers, I sweated out my fever overnight and had none in the morning, thus avoiding a visit to the corpsman. Still felt crappy but gradually got better and I'm feeling great now.
Your mail has been a blessing so please keep it coming (see earlier entry for the address). If you haven't written me yet, please do! I want to know what's going on in your lives!
Ran the PFT again today - fastest 3-mile time ever for me, but I dropped four (!!) pullups. Most people dropped a few, though others actually increased. My body, while not nearly as sore as earlier in the week, is just run down. Looking forward to the break between OCS and TBS.
Also, we got fitted for uniforms this week. I look good in those service alphas. If you don't believe me, graduation is Dec. 12. We're permitted to bring a few friends in addition to family so if you're interested let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Not much time to write so I'll have to wrap it up. If you want to e-mail me or leave comments, feel free - I'll check them every wknd and get back to you - writing back regular letters is obviously a bit harder for me to do though I hope to get caught up on that soon.
Oh one more thing. I'm going to be the Candidate Platoon Sergeant on Monday and Tuesday. This is the most visible and dreaded billet, in charge of the whole platoon (which is now down to 40 candidates...from 62 at the start!). But I've been looking forward to getting it. I'm not ready yet but I will be by Monday morning, and I've been craving the challenge. Until now I've only had one real billet - squad leader.
So anyway, it's going to be tough so wish me luck!
Oh one other more thing - I'll try to make it to DC next Sat. night to hang out for a while at a bar. We'll say Rumors at 8 PM - if it changes I'll post it here next Saturday during the day. So if you can stop by for a while, I'd love to see everyone and catch up a bit!
Have a great week.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

4 weeks down, 6 to go

Four weeks into OCS, and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm on liberty now for a few more hours, sitting in a tiny cafe in Q-town, and wanted to post something briefly just to let everyone know that I'm doing well.

The first three weeks or so were exactly what they're described to be - a transition from a civilian mindset to a military one. That transition is far from complete, of course, but the foundation has been laid. It's difficult for me to describe without getting into specifics, which is probably not appropriate in a public forum like this. I'll just say that OCS is more or less what you'd expect - long, long days, every aspect of one's life regimented, and plenty of noise. You can use your imagination. The last week has begun the switch to the "mentoring" phase, after which come other phases, but so far it still feels more or less the same as the rest, only with more enjoyable and challenging leadership opportunities.

The physical training has for the most part not been that hard. Does it push you far beyond what you thought you were capable of? Sure. Does it hurt? Sometimes it does. Are there moments of sheer misery, even despair? I've had one or two. But you do it, you find a way to keep up, and when it's over you feel great. I even injured my shoulder and for a while couldn't even do a push up (not a good thing) but I just pushed through it, refusing to go on "light duty", and in our last PT session I didn't feel any pain at all.

The academics are challenging in so far as there is a ton of information thrown at you, and you're basically expected to know something after you've heard it once. But other than the massive amounts of fast memorization, that part isn't bad either.

Each of those two sections - physical and academics - count for 25% of your overall GPA. Leadership counts for the other 50%. So far we've had two leadership "tests", where you lead a fireteam in negotiating an obstacle of some kind, and I've done pretty well in both.

As a result of all this, my GPA is near the top of my platoon (so far) which I'm pretty excited about. I'll do my best to try to keep it there, and just keep pushing week to week, lights out to lights out and meal to meal. Almost half-way done!

There's lots more I'd like to share but I'm low on time and I'd rather tell you all in person or over the phone as opposed to this blog. The only thing I'll add is that it is AMAZING how much a little mail can lift one's spirits at the end of a very long and grueling day. I feel it myself, and as the "mail candidate" I also see it with everyone else every time I hand out the mail. So if you get a chance to write me, please do - and a BIG thank you to all who have! The address is:

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

I promise I'll write back as soon as I'm able. In the meantime, hope you all are doing well!