Officer Candidate School

When I signed in to my OCS Battery at Fort Sill, I had just completed 8 weeks of a preparatory class that was designed to get us ready for the crap they would dish out.  We were sent to one of the old wooden barracks and piled in High and tight.  Someone had renovated the barracks and down both sides of the middle open aisle were cubicles designed for two candidates.  To start, they double stacked us with bunk beds and instead of the usual 25 to 30 there were closer to 60 on my floor.  I am pretty sure we were Battery E, also known as class 23A-67 set to graduate with our sister Battery,  F Battery on the 3rd of July.  Normally the graduations were held on the Tuesday of the week but that would have been the 4th of July so we graduated a day early.

My 8 weeks in the OCS Prep battery helped me get my junk organized quick and I spent the next couple of days helping the other poor dumb Bastards get their gear in order.  There was a diagram for everything and we had to work hard to make it be there and all shiny.  I literally poured my display out of the laundry bag and set it up.  Those poor guys that had just completed AIT in normal units suffered.  In the second week, they did a Peer review and we rated every one else in our Platoon.  I was ranked tied in the top position with another OCS Prep graduate.  We worked hard to help everyone get their gear set up.  I was completely blown out of the water when I was counseled by our TAC officer and he gave me a 71 Leadership grade. Barely a C in any language.  I was blown out of the water.  He told me that I was not there to help, but there to learn how to lead.  he said i would raise my leadership grade by every step i went down in the peer ratings.  By the end of the class i was tied for 23rd out of 24.  Sure enough my leadership grade was 93.  

I often relate the story that for the first couple of weeks, we had a Candidate from a Senior Class that lived with us.  Every night he would walk up and down the middle aisle after lights out and lecture us on what we had done well and what we had done poorly that day.  It was either laugh or cry into my pillow each night for a while.  Me, I just had to make it a game and laugh.  There were a lot of us that started and darned few, less than 50% that completed. 

Each day, the TAC officer would come through our area and anything that was wrong or sloppy would get thrown on the floor.  Demerits would be awarded to the offender and special periods of extra duty awarded. The first couple of weeks were especially chicken shit and everyone had to walk the "Parking Lot Tour."  I had the bad luck to be in front of one of the most clumsy soldiers ever.  He never learned to start by stepping off with his left foot.  The first time we were there, he kicked the heel off one of my boots and because of a lack of funds, I was forced to leave that pair under my bunk as a display and not rotate the boots like we were supposed to.  We had one pair marked with a red spot and one pair not marked.  Each morning I put the little stick on red spot on or off the pair under my bed.  No one ever caught on. After we were finally paid about the 8th week of OCS, the guy that knocked off my heel came by my bunk and gave me a new pair of jump boots he has just bought.  they were not his size and were a real pain to bring up to the OCS standard.  I was a whizz at shining anything by that time and I never was given a demerit for that pair of boots.

The weekend extra periods of duty continued for a couple of weeks until the first big weekend for a JARK.  The story went that the 4.2 miles from the Robinson Barracks sign to the top of Medicine Bluffs 4 or MB-4 was named after some WWII Candidate who managed to have to go up that mountain every weekend he was in OCS.    You made the walk like an adjutant walk or stiff legged and you were guaranteed to have shin splints for a couple of days after each walk.  I had to go that first time but after that I thought I was going to tie the record of the lowest number of miles in OCS.  4.2 was the record and I was well on my way to only making one trip up that hill.

On Sunday mornings, we were allowed to go to the Day Room and purchase junk food or grotto.  It was a blessed extra calories for young soldiers that were easily burning a few hundred more than we could consume in the rigid mess hall atmosphere.   One of my cube mates went over to the day room and actually brought a Baby Ruth candy bar back into the barracks. That was a big no no.  As he finished it, he was looking for a place to s=dispose of the wrapper when someone called "Attention" downstairs.  He grabbed the wrapper and stuffed it in a binder on our desk and left it there while the officer was visiting.  He put it in his pocket and disposed it on a trip to the dumpster.  The next Monday morning our TAC officer came to visit and saw the binder out of alignment and knocked them on the floor.  That stupid candy wrapper had left half a peanut and some chocolate on the desk.  The TAC officer wrote a 6X6 special for the infraction.  That was 6 weeks detention and 6 trips up the Hill on weekend JARKS.  The owner of the candy bar was married and had not been to see his wife for the first month we were in OCS.  To help him out, the three of us left in our cube split the penalty and I gave myself a 2X2.  That gave me three trips up MB-4 for 13.2 miles.  I had the lowest number of miles in our Battery but did not tie the Overall record.  

I wish I had a way to share all the things we saw at Fort Sill but  am somewhat limited by this format.  I can tell you that we got to blow off steam in a lot of ways.  We would holler on the bus - "Give me an Attitude Check. Check - We hate this Fucking Place.  Someone would holler Give me a Positive Attitude Check - We Positively Hate this Fucking Place..."  

On the weekends, there was often gunnery Displays out on the range.  We were made to attend and some of the were great but some were a disaster.  Honest to god, I saw an Honest John Rocket fired and someone forgot to pull the "God Pin" out of the rail.  That rocket hopped its way across the firing position and took the truck and all and blew up right in front of the stands. The crowning blow was that someone set off a nuclear simulator way off in the distance and the announcer read the part of the script about the explosion on the horizon.  We could feel the heat in the stands.  I'm sure that someone was packed up and sent to Korea that weekend.  A couple of months later, I saw a unit bring in a Little John Rocket by Chinook helicopter  and shoot it at The biggest mountain in the impact area.  I looked at it and said to the people near me that unless that rocket had a left hand spin it was going to miss Signal Mountain.  Sure enough, when it was fired it just sailed right on past that mountain.  Another young officer went to Korea the next morning.   If you have ever been to Fort Sill, you would know all about Signal Mountain and how it is the tallest mountain that dominates the west range.  To miss that mountain was very hard to do.

Oh well, I'd better call this a day and move on to my first Unit, the 6th Battalion 84th Artillery at Fort Irwin, CA.  Yes,it was later designated the National Desert Training Center.

MUD (then 2LT)

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