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Here Come 'The Few and The Proud'
by USMC Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson - August 29, 2013

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. - Many have shed their blood, sweat and tears to have a chance to be one of the “Few and Proud.” For 152 Officer Candidates School candidates, that dream became a reality as Charlie Company's candidates participated in their final motivational run on Family Day and prepared for graduation Aug. 8-9, 2013.

It's been a long time coming, 10 weeks to be exact, since the Charlie Co.'s candidates started their journey. According to many of the instructors for Charlie Co., to say that the training that took place was “difficult” would be an understatement.

Officer Candidates School’s Charlie Co. candidates march on the parade deck during their graduation ceremony at OCS aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico Aug. 9, 2013. More than 150 candidates graduated that day. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo By Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson)
Officer Candidates School's Charlie Co. candidates march on the parade deck during their graduation ceremony at OCS aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico Aug. 9, 2013. More than 150 candidates graduated that day. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo By Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson)

 “The training for the candidates is always physically and mentally demanding,” said Capt. Erin Demchko, executive officer, Charlie Co., OCS. “They will get frustrated and fail at least one time while they are here. They have to have resiliency to keep going. Each one of them graduating has shown mental and physical toughness, commitment and leadership skills to move on to The Basic School.”

From the first week on deck, the candidates had to put their old habits to rest as their instructors began to instill more discipline, order and structure into their lives. As the weeks progressed, many were pushed to their limits mentally as well as physically. But according their training schedule, the No. 1 thing that was forced into their heads, 50 percent of their time there, was leadership.

From reaction courses, field exercises and small unit leadership evaluations, the staff at OCS weeded out the weak as they separated them from the determined and motivated candidates with leadership potential. Throughout the 10-week program, the candidates were evaluated in leading peers, command presence, decision-making, communication skills, judgment, bearing and effectiveness under arduous military conditions.

For the candidates who proved to their instructors that they should be there, the end was near as they headed to their motivational run.

The five-mile motivational run, not only featured Charlie Co.'s candidates but also had the OCS staff bringing up the rear. Col. Harold Van Opdorp, commanding officer of OCS, and Sgt. Maj. Stephanie Murphy, sergeant major of OCS, took the lead.

A few hours after the run, candidates' family members were able to finally see their new and improved son, daughter, brother or sister. This was the time were the candidates could relax and talk about their ups and downs, failures and triumphs with their families. But, subconsciously, many are just anxious to walk on that parade deck, one more time, for graduation.

“I had an opportunity to meet a bunch of your parents last night and I can tell you that they are exceptionally proud of you,” Van Opdorp said. “They can't wait to see you later this morning and at graduation. You all have done a great job and I‘m proud of you all for meeting the requirements to call yourselves United States Marines.”

By USMC Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2013

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