USAF OCS Class 62-A


Article taken from June 1963 Issue of
 The Airman

Official Journal Of The Air Force  

As OCS becomes history, a former OC reminisces:

   "Hello, honey.  I've only got a second.  How does Fog go?"
   "Where are you calling from?  I didn't know you could phone from the school."
   "Never mind that, I've only got a second.  How does Fog go?"
   "Yes, Fog."
   "I guess the wind blows it away, silly.  How would I know how fog goes?"
   "No, you don't understand.  I don't mean fog, I mean Fog, the poem by Carl Sandburg.  One of those upperclass -- er -- gentlemen, wants me to recite it this afternoon.  One slip and I've had it.  I've got my full share of gigs this week.  One more and I'm ramped over.  And there go our picnic plans."
   "Where can I get it?"
   "Probably at the library.  Now be sure to get eve4ry word of it.  Look, I probably won't be able to call back.  Getting to a phone is too difficult.  When you bring my uniforms this afternoon, slip the poem into the left shirt pocket.  Okay?"
   "I'll try."
   If Betty hadn't come through with that verse it would have meant spending my Sunday afternoon marching in the hot Texas sun rather than relaxing with my family.  And we didn't get to see much of our families in those days.
   It all seems funny now.  It was anything but humorous at the time.  To those of you who have never enjoyed the experience of Officer Candidate School, the whole thing may seem a little ridiculous.  It was a program you had to be a part of to really appreciate.
   The problem of getting Fog was just one of the hundreds of little off-beat dramas that used to unfold in the lives of OC's.  I've intentionally mentioned this incident because it involves what most of us soon came to realize was a vital part of the program--our wives.  Many of us, I dare suspect, would never have made it through those six months without the help of our devoted, understanding, sympathetic, and frequently harried better-halves.

Out of the Frying Pan

   For those of us who were a part of Class 57-D, the last day of June 1957 was one of the most hectic we have ever experienced.  It was the day we first gathered "on the hill" for our introduction to each other and to the way of life called OCS.
   What followed in the next few weeks was a self-imposed Hades on earth.  But we had asked for it.  Numbering 176 at the outset, our class was rapidly divided into six squadrons, each supervised by a group of men who had survived the first three months of OCS and who were now to control the military training program for their final 12 weeks.  Our first impresion of the first classmen was not one of fondness.  To be blunt, we abhored them.
   During that first long afternoon and evening their firm, barking voices shattered any semblance of mental equilibrium on our part.  The sounds still echo in memory.
   "Wrinkle that chin!  Throw out that chest!  Swallow your stomach!  Stand straight!  You're an OC now!
   "Sound off, mister!  I want to hear that light bulb ping when you hit ten-SHUN!"
   Or the call that summoned us pell-mell to our assigned locations along the  corridor wall, to stand at rigid attention while some new tidbit of information was revealed.

June 1963 


   "On the wall! On the double!"
   Or that first morning. Did you ever try to share two sinks with 15 other men and complete shaving in less than 30 seconds? That's about all the time you
had, if everyone was to get his whiskers trimmed in the allotted hour.
   Then that first inspection by dawn's early light. I can hear those dulcet tones now.
   "What did you shave with this morning, a broken coke bottle?  "Get with it mister!"
   The whole thing was pretty much of a shock to most of us. We hadn't expected a picnic. Almost all of us had been sergeants. On the average we had been in the Air Force over five years, were married and had two or three children each. It had been a long time since we had been through basic training, but we soon discovered that this program just began where basic left off.
   We had to learn how to walk, to speak, to sit, and even how to eat. 
   Walking came at an accelerated pace, a half-walk, half-run executed while at attention. All corners, indoors and out, had to be squared. At first it was rough on your legs and even  rougher on a former sergeant's dignity.


Stiff Backs, Stiffer Necks

   It seemed you never relaxed. You sat at attention with your back exactly six inches away from the back of your chair. You ate what we called squared--not to be confused with square--meals.
  That meant that YOU raised YOUR right arm vertically and across horizontally. Every motion was either on a straight line or at a sharp right angle. Your head was cemented in one position and your eyes remained caged (frozen straight ahead). Just one side glance would bring forth a first classman's query: "What are you looking at, mister? You want to buy the place?"
   We acquired a whole new language, learning about "woolybuggers" (pieces of lint that appeared from nowhere during inspection) and "cables" (any string, however small, protruding from your uniform).
   Confusion reigned supreme at first. But it didn't take long before we discovered the whole secret of success. It wasn't just a school solution. The formula was surprisingly simple. The phrase we used was "Cooperate to Graduate."
   We soon learned that there was a reason for everything, even those rules which seemed most foolish. Caged eyeballs, for instance, developed our peripheral vision.
   There was no question but that we were being pushed to our "elastic limit," as they called it. They didn't want us to crack, but they wanted to see how much we could take. It was essential to know if a future officer could still carry on if he became angry, tired, and sometimes discouraged. If he couldn't, OCS wasn't for him.
   Unfortunately, 70 of those in 57-D failed to graduate. Most Were those who couldn't see any reason for the intense pressure and immediately resigned. For the rest, adjustment came rapidly.
   With that adjustment came a fierce pride. We would settle for nothing less than first. We referred to air cadets in adjacent barracks as "gadgets," and were convinced that no other school in USAF or elsewhere was the equal of OCS. I must confess that most of the former OCs I know still carry that same conviction.

Complete Training

   The officers who supervised OCS employed what they termed a "tri-dimensional" approach to education. It called for developing the student in relation to the requirements of job, social setting, and himself-the man. Training was directed toward the mental, spiritual, physical, and cultural requirements demanded of each future officer.
   Their task was immense. The time? Only 24 weeks.

June 1963


   From the student's viewpoint, perhaps the hardest part of the program was having your family so close, yet being able to see precious little of them. For the first few weeks contact came only during Sunday church services. Then a weekly social get-together at the OCS Club reunited husband and wife on Saturday evenings. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, weekend passes were authorized-for those who weren't ramped over.
   The machine hasn't been developed, nor will it ever be, that can begin to duplicate the versatility of the typical OC wife. In 57-D we even had a nickname for the gals. We called them Hazel Heartthrob.
Most of the gals and their offspring lived at Billy Mitchell Village, an apartment area some seven miles from OCS. They were a self-sufficient lot. They had to be. Much of their day was devoted to ironing and starching our uniforms after they had been returned from the cleaners. It took a good hour to get a set of 505s in inspection order after a commercial laundry cleaning. That included removing every loose thread. A single cable could mean an hour on the ramp.

Upper Crust

   Suddenly, after what seemed like years, you were no longer second class. Three months had passed and you awoke one morning to find yourself in the role of a. first classman. For weeks you had looked forward tQ this day, only to discover that actually running the school's military training program was even more difficult than taking orders. With the additional responsibility and work came greater confidence and an even stronger appreciation of the need to "Cooperate to Graduate."
   The program has changed in many ways from its birth at Miami Beach in February 1941. From the spring of 1944 until 1961 it made its home at Lackland AFB. For the past two years it moved to nearby Medina Base. Now it hardly seems possible that the school's final class graduates this month. With it, OCS becomes a thing of the past.
   In the 21 years since it was founded approximately 45,000 officers earned their commissions through OCS. Among their ranks were such luminaries as Jimmy Stewart, Ben Hogan, Hank Greenberg, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Russell Brown, George Kendrick, Robert Botts, and Joseph Manske.
   To theatergoers and sports fans the names Stewart through Grant are familiar. Who were Brown, Kendrick, Botts and Manske?
   Russ Brown (43-D) received the DFC for manning four different gun positions on his crippled B-17 after his comrades had been put out of action.
   George Kendrick (44-G) and his crew earned two Medals of Honor and seven distinguished service citations during World War II.
   Robert Botts (43-H) disposed of three Japanese Zeroes within two minutes.
   Joe Manske (42-F) was one of the men who accompanied Jimmy Doolittle on his epic Tokyo raid.
   In these men are written the training, spirit and pride associated with the Air Force's six-month program for transforming career-motivated airmen into commissioned officers.
   Times and needs have changed. Increasing demands for formal education and technical knowledge have created new paths to commissions for USAF airmen. Officer Training School and the Airman Education and Commissioning Program have eliminated the requirement for OCS.
   OCS is about to become a thing of the past, but for those of us who were once a part of the program it will always occupy a warm spot in our memories. The highest tribute the school ever received comes from ex-OCs in their oft-repeated phrase: "It was a great experience, but I wouldn't want to do it again."                                            

June 1963


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