Candidate Officer (CandiO) | Phases of Navy OCS

The only thing longer than the chow line when ODS is on campus is the wait to start your tenth week at OCS as a Candidate Officer. For the last nine weeks, they’ve been cutting in front of you when your company is waiting outside the chow hall, flaunting their class shirts during squadron PT, and smugly using their cell phones to call grandpa on his birthday. And now it’s your turn.

Being a CandiO is all about learning how to lead by example: being the first to logon to the Google Doc to signup for a coveted Road Guard position so you skip out on morning PT, learning how to crack your locker door just right to act like a door jam so Senior Chief can’t unexpectedly barge into your hatch and catch you napping, and giving excellent bad gouge to the classes below you.

Candidate Officers conduct their class run at the completion of their training. Photo courtesy of the US Navy.

Role of the Candidate Officer

Other than trying out every single dessert you’ve, until recently been denied indulging in, the duty of the Candidate Officer at OCS is to run the squadron—the four classes of candidates on campus at any given time. You will select or be assigned a billet position where you are in charge of managing some aspects of the INDOC, JOC, SOC, or squadron phases.

The billet you hold will determine the number of gold bars you wear to designate how little you sleep. If you’re foolish and choose to be the squadron commodore you will get more bars than anyone—SIX!!!—and will sleep for about half that many hours every night. But if you’re smart like I was you’ll be a lowly one-bar and have a rewarding and enjoyable final phase in Newport.

Highlights During CandiO Phase

  • Coffee
  • Not having to march everywhere as a company
  • Spending all your money on MWR pizza
  • The relationship with your Class Chiefs and DI is awesome
  • You constantly get asked in small talk “you ready to get out of here?!”
  • Reliving milestone events like RLP and Battle Stations from a different perspective

One of the best parts of being a CandiO is it’s your first time really interacting with your sister company on a daily basis. When you first get to OCS you’re immediately split up into two companies and have relatively little interaction with them throughout training. It’s not until thelast phase that you start getting to know the other fifty people you’ve deemed inferior to your company in any metric you could think of: we march better, we’re sharper with chow hall procedures, and we lint roll our toilets for RLP more! Typically they’ll make you switch roommates to someone from the other company and nothing bonds two groups together quite like sharing a tiny hatch after Meatloaf and Beans Night at the chow hall.

A class takes photos after graduating OCS. Photo courtesy of the US Navy.

Beyond CandiO

Your last week at OCS will be spent doing your out processing, graduation practice, and, if you’re an aviator, praying you don’t get stuck in Student Pool due to NAMI taking its sweet time with your medical clearance. Not a whole lot is going on during this final week and in some sense, it feels like the longest week yet but Friday’s graduation was easily one of the most satisfying days of my life.

Driving off base over that mystical Newport Bridge that has haunted you for the last three months is a feeling of euphoria. At this point, you’ve likely seen the bridge at every hour of the day—and night—and looking back at OTCN from its perspective is a view you definitely won’t forget.