Ready to Graduate!

Eight days until graduation from The Basic School. Whew! How's it been, and what's next?

Status Update

Waiting. Just waiting. Right now I'm doing a lot of waiting. We had our final graded events last Friday. These last 2 weeks of the POI are just like Zero Week in reverse. So far we've turned in a few gear items, but we still have more to turn in. Some of the other things on the schedule are Mess Night, Staff Platoon Commander Day, Wounded Warrior Discussion Groups, and medical and dental processing. One highlight last week was a visit from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Amos, as he spoke to Delta Company about our duty as Marine officers to take care of the Marines we command.

How TBS Has Been

It's been a marathon. OCS is a sprint; TBS is definitely a different kind of race. For myself and a couple other Marines with whom I've discussed this, it's an odd comparison between OCS and TBS. While TBS is definitely "harder" due to the way you are mentally and physically pushed, I still think OCS was a bigger accomplishment because of the transition that occurs there. But don't get me (us) wrong: we're still really darn proud to be just about done with TBS!

Advice for Marines Coming to TBS

When I came to TBS, I didn't get much advice. I did get an introduction to real Land Nav (what you did at OCS was NOT Land Nav) from my OSO, Captain Kline, and that was a great help. He also told me to make sure I didn't leave my boots outside my bivvy sack overnight in order to protect them from literally frosting over, and during the warmer months, be sure to cover them to keep out the wildlife. But other than that, it was pretty much a learn-as-you-go effort.

Talking with some other guys recently, we agreed that one of the worst things about going through here and having the opportunity to talk with some experienced officers and enlisted Marines is that we simply don't know what we don't know. We don't know what kinds of questions to ask! But now, having learned so much here, it's difficult to just produce a list of tips. So much of what we do is about finding something that works for you.

I may return to try to list a few things for Marines on their way here later, but I want to focus elsewhere with this post.

What's Next for Me?

Hello, Pensacola!

Graduation is on 12/12/12, and within just a few days, I'll be checking in at Naval Air Station Pensacola (NASP). I'm working on getting things lined up now so that I can take leave to go home for the holidays and then take PTAD for a couple months to be near my girlfriend, Robin, since I am expected to have a several month wait before any actual training begins down at NASP.

I plan on securing some sort of housing with another NFO in my squad while I'm there before I leave for the holidays. We are hoping we'll be able to arrange it so that we can even train together, but that may or may not happen. More on that below.

Robin & I at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball
Richmond, VA, 10 November 2012
(click to enlarge)

Introductory Flight Screening

IFS is basically the ground school portion of a civilian flight instruction program and lasts about 5 weeks. From what I've seen, IFS is very relaxed, due in no small part, I'm sure, to the fact that it is conducted under civilian instruction.

While scheduling is totally in flux, right now I'm expecting to begin IFS some time in April 2013. Marines who are already licensed pilots don't have to do IFS, but they don't get to move on to API (see below) any faster than I do.

Aviation Preflight Indoctrination

API is 4 weeks of the most intense academics I'll probably ever have to do, including my time back at Rose-Hulman. This is designed specifically to academically break students. The Delta Company CO, himself a pilot, told us that there is no other way to describe it but "academic hazing," however, Marines typically do better than other services (Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, and a few Army pilots all will also be there) because we have already gone through TBS and learned how to work together; we also went through a much more rigorous training program than the other pilots who likely have only gone to an Academy.

This video should give you a really good idea of what kinds of things happen at API.

Flight School

It's anybody's guess as to when I'll start "flight school." The Navy runs the school, and they jerk us around a lot. The Marines giving us the brief about how it goes down there had some very strong words for the way we get treated and apologized for how much it will suck for us, but there's nothing they can do about it. Crap rolls down hill, as they say. In fact, this behavior actually happens regarding when I'll start API, too. And while the Marines will do what they can to accommodate special considerations, like myself and my roommate wanting to train together, they can't make any promises because it all depends on the Navy.


Well, that's about it. You know what's coming up for me and roughly when it's going to happen (or at least as much as I do). Thanks for your support while I've been at TBS and for your support as I continue this journey.

"The time is now. Are there any questions?"
Seriously, though, if anybody has questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment or contact me otherwise and I'll do what I can to help you out.


  1. Thanks for the update. Well done!
    (From a very proud father)

  2. Dear 2dLt Allen,

    Just started reading your blog. I was actually just looking at some details about what occurs at NAMI. I completed OCS Juniors. I look forward to reading your story. I just wanted to let you know that I found it informative and look forward to what I can learn from your experiences.

    Candidate Platis

  3. Candidate Platis,

    Thanks for the comments. It's good to know that people are finding this information helpful.

    Good luck in OCS Seniors; I hear they push candidates a little harder when they come back. Stay healthy. Finish strong, but remember it is still only the beginning.

    2ndLt Allen

  4. What sorts of things have you seen Marines being able to do between TBS and flight school? We graduate in June and just heard that we have up to a year before we pick up with API..


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