By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /
B Company and Officer Candidate School students gathered July 1 at the Benning Club to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the OCS.
Lt. Col. Mark Andres, commander of 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, quoted from a speech by Gen. George C. Marshall delivered to the first OCS class in 1941. The speech was titled “The Challenge of Command.”
“Candidates, I want you to sit at ease because I want you to listen to what I am about to read to you. I want you to hear it. I think that when I am done you’re going to realize that although this speech was said and written in 1941 that the words and thoughts being transmitted are timeless,” said Andres.
The speech supported the values of leadership, courage, and lethal action.
“Professional competence is essential to leadership and your knowledge of arms equipment and tactical operations must be clearly superior to that possessed by your subordinates. At the same time, you must command their respect, above and beyond those qualities.”
Andres continued quoting Marshall. “The quality of officers is tested to the limit during the long and trying periods of waiting or marching here and there without evident purpose, and during those weeks or months in service under conditions of extreme discomfort or possible privations or isolations. The true leader surmounts all of these difficulties, maintaining the discipline of his unit and further developing its training.”
After the speech, retired Col. Robbie Robinson, a former battalion commander and still living graduate of OCS, cut a ceremonial cake with Andres to celebrate the anniversary.
“We have someone who was commissioned in 1945. Col. Robinson is still active and participates in events to tie the candidates today to their past heritage,” said Andres.
Brig. Gen. Peter L. Jones, MCoE Deputy Commanding General-Infantry, presided as the guest speaker.
“OCS is a school which stands proudly as an example of honor, integrity, and courage,” said Jones. John Ionoff, a Vietnam veteran and a former company commander of OCS said the ceremony hit the right tone.
“Gen. Marshall’s speech is one of those iconic speeches. It’s good to revive that because they use (it) in a lot of leadership schools, not realizing that the speech was used for the first OCS class. We are proud of that.”