Hey Marine OCS Candidates! We’re here today sharing our first ever interview with a good friend of ours, United States Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant Koehler. This interview is designed to help you in your preparation for Marine Corps Officer Candidates School and also to get some real life perspective on how past candidates before you have been successful. We ask some important, informative and motivating questions and 2nd Lieutenant Koehler came through with some great responses. Let’s get started.
Rob from Marine OCS Guide: Good afternoon Sir, thanks for taking the time to speak with MarineOCSGuide.com and helping future candidates in their quest to become 2nd Lieutenants! We’ll get started with this interview by asking what your current status in the United States Marine Corps is?
Koehler: Well, I graduated from Texas A&M in August of 2011, commissioned as a 2nd Lt at that time and have been waiting for TBS to start since then. At the time I graduated there was an 8-10 month long wait period between commissioning to TBS report date. My TBS date is now June 5th, 2012. The time between commissioning and TBS (for PLC Candidates) is unpaid so be prepared to find a job after graduation to support yourself during that time. I have heard that people graduating in this coming May will have a 12-18 month wait before TBS start date.
Rob: When did you decide that you wanted to become an Officer in the Marine Corps and what specifically motivated you to make it happen? What gave you the drive to succeed and get to where you are today?
Koehler: I had always wanted to be a Marine because of my father. He retired in 2000 after 20 years as a major. Growing up in a military family I saw a stark contrast between my public school civilian friend’s lives and my own. I knew I wanted that for my life and my family. I can’t say exactly where I received my drive, but I’d say part of it came from my adolescence in always needing to prove myself and the other was just natural need for competition. Plus my Father always told me to lead from the front so that’s where I’d have to be.
Rob: You participated in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets correct? How did that help to prepare you for Officer Candidates School and would you recommend current college students participate in an ROTC program on campus to prepare as well?
Koehler: Yes, I did. The Corps of Cadets is a very large Military leadership organization at Texas A&M. Imagine a 2,300 member ROTC program where everyone sleeps in the same dorms, eats chow together, works out and drills together, while also going to classes for 4 years. You build very strong relationships with your classmates and also a very rigid sense of discipline. Unfortunately, most ROTC programs at other colleges only come to class a few times a week, PT a few times a week, and wear a uniform sometimes. The experience of the Corps of Cadets vs. a standard ROTC is vastly different. I would recommend getting with your OSO and getting contact information on other candidates that have gone to OCS before you. If they have graduated from Seniors or college and are just waiting for TBS, then that’s even better. Befriend them, ask questions, work out with them, and see if you can borrow their OCS text book. Go make copies and read it. Study it. There is no such thing as being too prepared. It’s like showing up for a knife fight with a gun; you’re probably going to win. If no one else did their prep work like you, then you will get more sleep, feel better, classes will be a review not all new information and it will greatly simplify a large part of OCS.
Rob: You’ve recently become a certified Crossfit trainer and also scored very highly in the physical fitness portion of Officer Candidates School, right? What physical preparation advice would you give to any Officer Candidates reading? What kind of workouts did you use to get in top shape?
Koehler: The number 1 thing I would say is to find your nearest Crossfit gym, get a membership and work out there at least 4 days a week. They will train you in the best kind of all around fitness that translates so well into rucks (long hikes with 50+ lbs packs), PFTs, CFTs, endurance courses, and the standard wear and tear your body will face at OCS and in the Marine corps. If that is out of your means then PT and educate yourself. Think about how you work out and how the points are spread out on a PFT and CFT. If you have a 19 minute 3 mile but can only get 10 pull ups then stop running 3 times a week and work on pull ups. But that doesn’t mean work on pull ups every day. As a personal trainer now, I know I don’t have enough time to really go into how best to prepare yourself. Differentiate your workouts, stay away from routines, and pick up heavy stuff. You will never get good at ruck marches and running with rifles if you never move carrying weight.
Here’s a great first piece of self education- CrossFit Journal
Rob: What did you find to be the most difficult aspect of Marine OCS? How did you overcome that specific obstacle to graduate successfully from OCS?
Koehler: Honestly, I came into OCS with a mindset of being better than a lot of other guys. That arrogance might have spawned from how much I prepared and how sure of myself I was. Check that damn attitude on the airplane before you get there. You really are no better than anyone else. When you find yourself beating people at things and finishing first; you suck it up and help them get better. There’s nothing worse than an arrogant leader and Enlisted or junior Marines won’t follow you.
Rob: Lastly, what would be one piece of advice you’d give anyone about to attend Officer Candidates School in Quantico?
Koehler: My biggest pieces of advice, I will just have to echo myself. Check your attitude before you get to Brown Field, educate yourself now while you wait, and for God’s sake learn how to do your own laundry.
Rob: Thanks for the awesome interview 2nd Lieutenant Koehler.
Koehler: It was my pleasure Rob. Hope to see all of you in the Fleet.
Once again thanks to 2nd Lieutenant Koehler for the interview. It was definitely an awesome one, with great perspective provided for those candidates currently preparing for Quantico. The biggest thing to take away from LT Koehler’s interview might be his one statement, “There is no such thing as being too prepared”.