Platoon Leaders Course Sr. | Quantico

Welcome to the beginning of military life at Officer Candidates School (OCS) Quantico Va. The first week tests their strength and mindset, preparing them for the tough training ahead.

My name is Sergeant Major Paul Davis (Ret), and I spent 27 years in the Marine Corps, including 8+ years in recruit training. I’m here to guide you through the exciting journey your recruit is about to embark on at OCS over the next several weeks. Follow me as we start with the arrival at OCS.

The Transformation Begins

Stepping off the bus, candidates’ hearts pound, palms sweat, and breaths quicken as a wave of nervous excitement washes over them. This is the shared experience of countless individuals who have crossed the threshold of Brown Field. Here, drill instructors greet them, ushering them onto the legendary yellow footprints. For many, this is where they realize what they are about to take on.

In-processing Week

Week one is a crucible, forging physical and mental strength in new candidates. While building physical endurance is crucial, the experience goes far beyond. It’s an intense mental and emotional challenge, pushing them to master self-discipline and resilience in the face of stress and fatigue. This week lays the foundation for mental toughness that will match their physical capabilities.

During in-processing, your Candidate will be taken from their normal routine and placed in a controlled, chaotic environment to begin developing the skills necessary to succeed as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. This can be a stressful time for Candidates and those closest to them. Don’t worry; it’s just one facet of the experience designed to prepare them for success. The first few days will begin with administrative and medical in-processing, receiving their gear and uniforms, and finally getting placed in their respective training company.

Building Endurance Beyond Limits

Throughout their time at Quantico, your Candidate will be expected to maintain their physical fitness. Their fitness journey will begin this week with an initial Physical Fitness Test (PFT). The Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test is composed of pull-ups or push-ups to test upper body strength, planks to test core strength, and a 3-mile run to test physical endurance. The initial PFT assesses the candidates’ readiness to induct into training. This won’t be the last time your Candidate has to take the PFT; they’ll continue to do so throughout training and the rest of their Marine Corps career. Additionally, they’ll be introduced to running as a platoon and run a 3-mile loop on base to help them orient the local trail network.

This week also introduces them to the core values that will guide their conduct throughout their service, shaping their character and instilling a deep sense of duty. It’s a test of mental fortitude and commitment. The in-processing week culminates with meeting the team of drill instructors who will be with them literally every single minute of every day over the next several weeks.

Bridging the Gap with Letters

Amid the rigorous demands of the initial training phase at Officer Candidates School, a letter from loved ones becomes a beacon of hope. This seemingly small act of sending a message carries immense weight, offering recruits a tangible link to the world they’ve temporarily left behind. It serves as a touching reminder of the support waiting for them, providing a crucial morale boost and a sense of comfort amidst their challenging journey. These letters are not just messages; they’re lifelines that uplift spirits and reinforce the resolve to persevere.

You’re on this journey WITH your candidate, and the best way to stay connected is by sending mail. Sandboxx Letters arrive on base the next day with return stationery, a pre-addressed envelope, the return postage paid, photos, and the option to add a gift card. If you’re unsure what to write, start with simple questions about their daily experiences or add the Daily Drive letter add-on for consistent support.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll share weekly updates about what your candidate is experiencing during their transformation into a Marine. This path is tough and demanding, but in the end, your candidate will have EARNED the title of United States Marine. Stay tuned for more insights and stories from this foundational phase of your candidate’s journey.

I’m Sgt. Maj. Paul Davis (USMC Ret), and I can’t wait to share more about this incredible journey with you.

Semper Fidelis,
Sgt. Maj. Paul Davis