Every Monday and Thursday for the past year, U.S. Marine Captain Harold Hamilton gathers intelligence on prospects for Officer Candidates School (OCS) from his table in the lobby at Stony Brook’s Student Activities Center.
The trim, affable, recruiter based in Garden City, New York, does not need to seek students out — they come to him looking for information on how to apply for a commission as a Marine Corps officer after graduating.
“They’ll stop and say hello or as one individual did — just stare at me,” said Hamilton. “The uniform generates a certain amount of attention.”
This year he can also rely upon the civilian viewpoint of Career Center Assistant Director Alfreda James, who is fresh from her weeklong leadership training course at OCS in Quantico, VA.
“It helps if the career counselor can understand a little bit about the military environment,” said James, who leapt at Hamilton’s suggestion to attend the five-day leadership training in early July. After a brief security background check and signing a waiver of liability, James tasted an OCS routine that included patrols, combat training and a flight in a V-22 Osprey.
Fifteen Marine captains, products of The Basic School and Marine Corps University, served as James’ escorts for the week. One of the program highlights was the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC).
“Imagine trying to solve a gigantic three-dimensional puzzle in 15 minutes and you’ll get the gist of the LRC,” said James.
The ten-week OCS courses, better known as The Basic School or TBS, are held three times per year — summer, fall and winter, but the winter class is for men only. TBS teaches the skills necessary to serve as a rifle platoon commander regardless of military occupational specialty.
What are the marines looking for in Stony Brook students?
Although STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skill sets are always in demand wherever marines serve, all majors are welcome.
“We are looking for highly qualified students to pursue commissions in various fields from aviation to communications,” said Hamilton. “We’re talking about a few positions. There are only 16,000 of us (OCS graduates) in the entire nation serving in 26 military occupational specialties.”
A number of Stony Brook graduates have gone on to enjoy success in the Marine Corps. Sergeant David Chan ‘11, ’13 an electrical engineering major, is an engineer with the marines. Psychology major Peter Morales ’00 is a logistics support branch head. Former USG president Matt Graham ’11, a chemical and molecular engineering major, is currently an instructor at the Navy’s Nuclear Power School. And Benjamin Hayashi ’11, a mechanical engineer who was very active in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, is in naval flight training.
One of the top current student candidates for TBS is sophomore Lance Schaefer, an Air applicant and mechanical engineering major.
“Stony Brook students may contact officer recruiters independently of the Career Center,” said James. “Career Center staff simply make students aware of their options.”
Of the nine candidates from Stony Brook last year, only one did not complete the training, and that was due to a physical injury.
When they complete their TBS training, individuals take oaths accepting their commissions as second lieutenants and begin their obligated terms of service. For more information visit marineofficer.com.
By Glenn Jochum
Photo by John Griffin