News: Officer Candidates School graduates tomorrow’s officers
Story by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – More than 220 candidates accepted the grueling challenge of Officer Candidate School training and after 10 weeks, 168 of them marched on to the parade deck there and graduated, Saturday, March 31.
The mission of OCS is to train, evaluate and screen officer candidates to ensure they possess the moral, intellectual and physical qualities for commissioning, and the leadership potential to serve successfully as company grade officers in the operating forces.
“Training has been good,” said Maj. Jason P. Koeck, company commander for Charlie Company. “Over the past 10 weeks the candidates have experienced extremes in terms of weather, hot and cold. They took on those challenges and pushed through the physical and mental obstacles we threw at them here.”
While on the parade deck, the candidates showed what they’d learned with their rifles during a Manual of Arms demonstration.
“It’s a sight I’ll never forget,” said Mark Reed, a proud parent who traveled from Dallas to see his son graduate. “When he first told me he wanted to be a Marine officer, I was proud of him, scared like heck, but damn proud of him. Seeing him on the parade deck, in his uniform, well, let’s just say I’m proud to call him my son.”
Guest of honor Lt. Gen. Dennis J Hejlik, commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Command, had a few words to say to the candidates and their families.
“You are the best of the best,” Hejlik said “You have worked hard to get here. Take what you learned and instill that into the Marines you are going to lead. To the families of these candidates, I want to thank you, because, if it were not for your support, these young men and women would not be here today.
After the graduation ceremony, a commissioning ceremony was held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps where the candidates’ families filled the museum to see their loved ones officially become second lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“It’s a great feeling,” said 2nd Lt. Kevin Towler, as his wife pinned on his gold bar to his service alpha uniform. “It’s been a long 10 weeks. There were a lot of trying times, but I pushed forward. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I look forward to leading Marines.”
The newly appointed officers will face new challenges as they begin their six month training at The Basic School aboard Quantico, where they will learn everything it takes to lead Marines.