Some RAs at Hillsdale may think that their weeklong training to get ready for the school year is a burden, but it could be worse. Simpson RAs Josh Bailey and Adam Buchmann would know. They have been through Officer Candidate School for the Marine Corps.
Senior Josh Bailey finished Officer Candidate School this summer and now just has to wait until graduation before he commissions. He finished OCS in two separate, six-week phases, one the summer after freshman year, and the second just this past summer.
“One of the big differences between the first section of OCS and the second six weeks is that the first is an exposure to the Marine Corps. It’s like they are just roughing you up and seeing how you do,” Bailey said. “The hardest part was adapting to my environment because I had never been in an environment like that. And learning to succeed when you are running on barely any sleep and you are trying to memorize information and you are trying to lead your peers. I had never been in that intense of a situation, so I didn’t know how to deal with it that well. So it was a learning curve.”
After being exposed to the Marine Corps in the first six-week training session, Bailey felt better about the second session.
“The second time I went, I felt a lot more prepared to deal with it and I feel like I performed well while I was there. And the thing that was most difficult was keeping a good attitude about it. Because the second time you go back you feel like ‘I’m just sitting here getting screamed at, like why the heck did I come back to this?’ So keeping a positive mental attitude was difficult there,” Bailey said.
“It’s basically an evaluation course where they are testing your ability to lead marines in combat, essentially. So there’s three grading criteria. One is academic, one is physical, one is leadership. There’s 25 percent for academic, 25 percent for physical, and 50 percent is leadership.”
This summer they tested his leadership abilities by putting him in different positions and scenarios where he was in charge of his peers. One scenario OCS puts its trainees through is a reaction course.
“So it’s like here’s a broken bridge and you have to get over this water. You have this rope and you have to carry these two boxes of ammunition over and you can’t touch this, this, and this. And you have 5 to 10 minutes and you have to brief your team. You have to write out an order and give it to them and then lead them through that order and try to complete that mission. Most of the time you fail. Almost all the time you fail. But they want to see how you deal with it,” Bailey said.
In addition to these challenges Bailey was also in classes that teach tactics, weapons training, military etiquette, and ethics. Of course there was also the physical training and challenges that OCS is famous for.
“You have PT every morning. And you have to go out at five in the morning to go workout. You have to do that every morning and on top of that you are getting hazed throughout the day,” Bailey said.
Bailey admits that right after finishing OCS he was ready to move on and wasn’t necessarily excited to come back to being a student.
“After OCS this summer I was just like, let’s go, let’s get through Hillsdale. But as the summer progressed, I got back into the Hillsdale mindset. Like, I’m still a college student, and I’m happy to be here for another year. And it will be difficult to leave Hillsdale because I’ve got lots of friends here. But it does help to know what I’m doing and I’m excited,” he said.
Junior Adam Buchmann is also going to be a marine and completed the first part of OCS last summer.
Buchmann knew before he came to college that he wanted to go into the military. In high school he applied to the Naval Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy, and Hillsdale. He was accepted to all three, but later disqualified from the military academies becuase of an ankle injury that required reconstructive surgery. So he came to Hillsdale, but still knowing that he wanted to pursue the military. During freshman year, he went to Ann Arbor to talk to a selection officer about what he wanted to do in the marines.
“And the marine corps is the only branch that, prior to commissioning, can offer you a flight contract. I’ve always wanted to fly, so I signed up on a six year flight contract, if I’m able to earn and then accept my commission,” Buchmann said.
He finished his application, got accepted in February of his freshman year, and visited Quantico, Virginia for OCS in the summer.
Buchmann went into the training process with some familiarity after watching his older brother, a marine, go through it.
“It was the best and worst time of my life. They put you under constant duress. They always make sure that you are always tired, just a little bit hungry, and you’re always a little bit frustrated,” he said. “The first three weeks are insane and you have no prior military experience whatsoever. And you just get hit with the marine corps culture and the marine corps ethos and what it means to be a marine. So that hits you super super hard those first couple of weeks. Then you finally get used to it.”
The training is constant and you are constantly under evaluation, Buchmann said. Even though it’s extremely intense, he had a few good stories.
“There was another candidate in my platoon who was 6’8”. He was taller than every single one of the sergeant instructors. One time he accidentally misranked the company gunnery sergeant and called him the company staff sergeant and within half a second he was surrounded by the company gunnery sergeant and 4 or 5 other sergeant instructors. And when they are screaming at you you can’t make eye contact with them, you just have to stand at the position of attention and look straight forward. It was so humorous because it was like five angry yelling marines, looking up at this kid. And he’s just standing there with this straight face and they are standing there with their heads at his shoulders. And they are just all looking up and screaming. And he has this face like an ostrich, it was so funny,” Buchmann said.
Buchmann will finish his second six weeks of OCS this summer. Bailey will commission this May when he graduates, and Buchmann will commission next spring.
Needless to say, after weeks of training to be leaders in the Marine Corps, Bailey and Buchmann were ready to be leaders in Simpson as well. Their fellow RA, Junior Stephen Richmann, can attest to this.
“Josh and Adam were fantastic leaders even before they went to OSC,” he said. “That kind of training helped them become even more confident in their skills, and they’re doing a great job running Simpson.”