Senior Josiah Lip­pincott pursues future in the Marine Corps


Senior Josiah Lip­pincott knows exactly what he is doing after grad­u­ation.

Within hours of com­mencement this spring, Lip­pincott will receive his com­mission as a Marine Corps officer. From there it will be off to the Basic School to determine his spe­cial­ization. After that, he will spend four years active in the fleet.

While other seniors trav­elled, com­pleted intern­ships, went home to work or play, Lip­pincott spent ten weeks of his summer in Quanitico, Vir­ginia. He com­pleted the Marine Corps Officer Can­di­dates School, the training and eval­u­ation program for com­mis­sioned officers in the United States Marine Corps. He has worked for three years to arrive at the com­pletion of this program.

Lip­pincott said he became inter­ested in serving in the mil­itary since coming to Hillsdale, and while he ini­tially con­sidered the Army, the Marine Corps recruiters at the Source caught his attention.

“There’s a great rela­tionship between the Marine Corps recruiting out of Ann Arbor and Hillsdale College, so they come out here. They do events. They’re easy to talk to. They’re great to work with,” he said.

The Source recruiters and the Marine Corps won out, as did the prospect of com­pleting the program while still in school.    

“That was attractive to me,” he said. “I wanted to do things over the summers, get a com­mission straight out of college.”

Lip­pincott had advice and the chance to com­mis­erate during the process. He met Audrey Graber ’14 his first semester as a freshman.

Graber was inter­ested in the mil­itary in high school, and she too talked to recruiters at the Source. For her, the decision to com­plete OCS was imme­diate. She applied, and split her time at Quantico in two, with six-week stints in both 2011 and 2012. After receiving her com­mission after grad­u­ation, she com­pleted the Basic School and is now sta­tioned at Camp Pendleton in Cal­i­fornia as a bat­talion adjutant for an artillery bat­talion.

Graber said Lip­pincott began to ask her about the process his sophomore year.

“I was the only senior who had gone to OCS, so I was pretty much in charge of the program at Hillsdale from a student per­spective,” she said.

While as a woman her expe­rience at OCS dif­fered slightly from Lippincott’s, and she spread it over two years, it is still one they share as friends.

“He called me nearly every weekend to talk about OCS, because it’s such a unique expe­rience, that unless you’ve expe­ri­enced it yourself — it’s really hard to have anyone in the civilian world under­stand it. So, we did talk a lot about it this summer,” she said.

There were two major obstacles in Lippincott’s road to com­pleting OCS. He trained almost two years to pass the application’s physical require­ments, the most dif­ficult part for him. The program does not whip can­di­dates into shape, but assumes they are so already. Adding further chal­lenge, for a semester of that time Lip­pincott was in Wash­ington, D.C., on WHIP.

“Working full time, doing classes, and training for OCS was a lot,” he said.

At OCS, he found himself pre­pared for the physical tests, but faced the new dif­fi­culty of leading his peers, not all of whom were coop­er­ative.

“It’s easy to lead someone who is legally bound to follow your orders, but that’s not the case at OCS,” he said. “You have to lead people who just a few hours earlier were in charge of you and the billets are con­stantly cycling.”

Lip­pincott said he sees a par­allel between the Marine Corps and Hillsdale.

“I think there’s a lot of sim­i­larity between the Marine Corps and Hillsdale,” he said. “The Marine Corps is small, it’s tough, it’s rig­orous, it poses a major chal­lenge, and there’s just a lot of pride in it.”

Jef­ferson Ven­trella ’11, who became a Marine Corps infantry officer in 2012, points out that while Hillsdale teaches critical thinking as it exposes stu­dents to ideas and phi­losophy, it is not an envi­ronment that requires you to look evil in the face. That, he said, is the task of Marines.

“You need to come to terms with evil, because that is what we deal with,” he said.

In the face of all adversity, Ven­trella said, an officer must make deci­sions and con­sider ques­tions of legality, justice, and pru­dence, where there will be no clear answer.  

“And you have to be com­fortable with the ambi­guity and the con­se­quences,” he said. “As a leader it’s not about you. It’s all about the beau­tiful bas­tards that actually go into harm’s way to kill the enemy.”

That lead­ership and respon­si­bility is what Lip­pincott may look forward to before he runs for elected office after service.

“If Hillsdale is con­cen­trated on devel­oping the intel­lectual person, shaping your soul, OCS is trying to figure out what it is you’re taking with you, those qual­ities within you, that you bring with you in terms of lead­ership and ability,” he said. “It’s char­acter building in suf­fering.”

Lip­pincott now gets to look forward to grad­u­ation, a wait that Graber said her eagerness made dif­ficult. He encourages stu­dents inter­ested in Marine OCS to come talk to him.

“If you want to do it, stay ded­i­cated, stay moti­vated,” he said.

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From Portland, Oregon. He serves as the paper’s Associate Editor. Meadowcroft is majoring in history and participates in theatre and is on the editorial board of the Tower Light literary publication. Meadowcroft has also worked for the American Spectator. He hopes to write after college on arts and culture, international affairs, travel, theology, and politics. email: | twitter: @micahmuses