"LCDR Ball... Arriving"
Joe at Sgt. Foley's Fire-Eaters graduated from Navy OCS earlier this month; this got me thinking about my time at OCS. Officer Candidate School now is a lot different than it was when I went through in Newport in the late 80s. The aviation OCS, as I understand it, was always a lot like you probably saw in "An Officer and a Gentleman", and I've heard that since they consolidated both OCSs at Pensacola, everyone gets that kind of treatment. When I went through, though, we didn't have any aviators there, and the whole experience was rather comical.
Now, if you'd never been through boot camp before, it was probably pretty scary. The deal was, you were there for 16 weeks; they put the "senior" class in charge of the "junior" class, so your last eight weeks, you had people to abuse.
That's what made it funny. Here were 22 year old kids, with 8 weeks in the Navy, yelling at these newbies, like they were some salty veteran. When I went through, probably a quarter of the candidates were enlisted guys going for a commission, and we came from all communities. The funniest thing was seeing some guy who barely even shaved yelling at an enlisted SEAL that "you're never gonna make it through". For those of us who were prior enlisted, the biggest challenge the during the first ("Indoc") week was not to burst out laughing.
It was basically like the first week of boot camp, so if you'd never gone through it before, you never knew what was coming next -- or even when it would end. The funniest tradition they had in my battalion is that, all week, the new guys would get told that if they screwed up, the Regimental Discipline Officer, LCDR Ball, would come at the end of the week and make them do Indoc Week over. Every couple of hours, you'd hear about LCDR Ball. I'll admit that even I was looking forward to seeing what this guy looked like.
Then, Friday afternoon of Indoc week, the newbies would be lined up in the passageway and yelled at, and were told that they were such screw-ups, they'd probably all be kicked out; LCDR Ball was coming to make the decision. Then, the seniors would all start shouting, "Attention on Deck for LCDR Ball!"... and every rubber ball they could get from the gym would be thrown at the junior class, followed by lots of laughing and hand-shaking. Lots of nervous energy got released that way.
And then everyone went to the O-Club and drank.