OCS Charlie Company Family Day
Andrei Petrov’s uniform is neatly pressed and freshly tailored as he steps out of The MARINE Shop dressing room looking like a Marine officer for the first time.
It’s a uniform he has finally deserved after a grueling ten weeks at the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico. As Petrov had his final fitting on Aug. 9, he said “it’s hard to believe” graduation is only a day away.
The impact made by Petrov in his officer uniform was not lost on his family. His mother, Yelena Betts, said she would try to hold her tears back until her son was pinned with his gold, 2nd Lieutenant bars the following day.
“His dreams are coming true,” Betts said. “We’re just really proud of him. He deserved it and has worked really hard.”
More than 100 other families celebrated the long-awaited reunion with their candidates during the Family Day event, always held the day before OCS graduation.
Family Day provides an opportunity for the candidate’s loved ones to learn more about OCS from the Commanding Officer and to meet the staff members who trained and evaluated the candidates. Guests first attend an hour-long presentation of the candidates’ training and are then able to spend the rest of the day with their candidate.
Petrov’s sister, Anna Petrova, said Family Day was helpful for families to understand both the challenges of OCS training and the culture of Marines.
“This is super exciting and the overall atmosphere is refreshing,” Petrova said. “There’s so much respect to civilians and I’ve never been exposed to that environment.”
The MARINE Shop in Quantico Town, owned and operated by the Marine Corps Association & Foundation always hosts a celebration for the OCS graduating candidates and their families, said Pat Van Zummeren, general manager at The MARINE Shop. There is punch, cookies and a cake that says “Congratulations OCS Candidates.”
“We want to make the family feel welcome,” Van Zummeren said. “A lot of parents aren’t familiar with the military and it’s fun for the candidates to bring their family in the shop and see what they’re getting into.”
The number of visitors to the shop doubles during OCS graduation, she said, because the commissioning candidates all have their final fittings. She said the families enjoy seeing the uniforms and purchasing Marine Corps merchandise including clothes, coffee mugs and bumper stickers to show their Semper Fi pride.
“We’re like (the candidates’) second family because they’ve been coming in the shop and getting fitted for their uniform over the last seven weeks and we know them all by name,” Van Zummeren said. “We’re proud of them making it through OCS.”
David Grey is one of those graduating candidates to get fitted for his uniform at The MARINE Shop. After OCS graduation on the parade deck, Grey and the other eligible candidates from Charlie Company will commission at the National Museum of the Marine Corps just outside of Quantico base.
Grey has served in the Marine Corps Reserve for eight years and earned his undergraduate degree from Virginia Military Institute. He also attended law school at Temple University and will commission as a lawyer, or JAG, for the Marine Corps.
“I heard it’s better quality tailoring here and I figure because I’m JAG I’ll be wearing (the dress uniform) more than usual so I should take care of it right,” Grey said.
Grey became a member of MCA&F, the Professional Association for All Marines, this week before buying his uniforms to save on the hefty cost of purchasing his uniforms. By joining the Marine’s professional organization, he saved $80 on uniforms and only paid $35 for a one year membership.
Col Kris Stillings, Commanding Officer of OCS, briefs families about OCS training during Family Day Orientation
Families leave orientation to greet their candidates
Candidates await release before reuniting with their families the day before OCS graduation