Raleigh, N.C. --
Marines and candidates with the Officer Selection Office Raleigh, Marine Corps Recruiting Station Raleigh, conducted a three-mile hike with Marine Corps history and leadership classes aboard Umstead Park in Raleigh, N.C., Sept. 28.
The candidates and Marines carried packs with 40 pounds of gear and an M-16 replica rubber rifle to get a feel for hiking while carrying weight.
Officer candidates will be required to complete three hikes while in Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va., carrying a similar load. These hikes provide the candidates an opportunity to see how physically prepared they are.
“This was a very good hike,” said Corey Bankston, an officer candidate and Greensboro College graduate. “It helped us understand what a ruck march will be like, especially the mental side of it.”
Bankston, an Atlanta native, has been with the OSO since April, 2012 and will go to OCS in January, 2014. With the Marine Corps reducing its troop level, many candidates like Bankston will spend more time in the preparation phases prior to going to OCS. This provides an opportunity to be better prepared, but can also be a burden on motivation. These monthly functions let the candidates work together and motivate each other.
“This ties them in with other candidates,” said Capt. Christopher Ellison, an officer selection officer with the Officer Selection Office. “They’re doing Marine Corps physical fitness events, getting classes and basically being reminded on why they joined the program in the first place.”
Some of the participants were already second lieutenants who have completed OCS and are waiting to begin The Basic School, a six-month leadership and war fighting course in Quantico, Va. They provided motivation, guidance and instruction to the candidates.
“This exposes them on what to expect in OCS, in a controlled manner,” said 2nd Lt. Tyler McNeil, an officer from Officer Selection Office Tuscaloosa, Ala., who is waiting to attend TBS.
Along with the physical requirements, officer candidates are tested on their intelligence and leadership abilities. They will cycle through many different positions, such as platoon leader and platoon sergeant. Bankston is the candidate platoon commander, a billet that will give him leadership experience and an edge in training.
“This was my first time holding a billet,” said Bankston. “It was fast paced at first; my mind was racing because you’re trying to get everything perfect. Then you start to realize to slow down and just get accountability and stay on top of everything but don’t be micro managing.”
The classes on Marine Corps history and leadership will help the candidates with the plethora of knowledge they need for OCS. They will have to continue to prepare, physically and mentally for the tough road ahead.
“They did really well,” said Ellison. “We didn’t have anyone fall out and they stayed motivated.”