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.