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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Programs show military life

    The Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class program took psychology junior Dyanna Gehm up in a twin-engine Beechcraft Tuesday to show her what its like to fly an aircraft. Gehm is thinking about joining the program and looking into the responsibilities of being a Marine Corps officer.
    The Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class program took psychology junior Dyanna Gehm up in a twin-engine Beechcraft Tuesday to show her what its like to fly an aircraft. Gehm is thinking about joining the program and looking into the responsibilities of being a Marine Corps officer.

    The Marine Corps has two programs that will give UA students the opportunity to “”dip their toe in the water”” of military life without a serious, long-term commitment.

    “”Sometimes we call it an internship. It is in the summer, there’s no obligation to the organization after completion (and) you get paid and you get credit. It’s an awesome program,”” said Marine Corps Capt. Johnny Luevano.

    The two types of programs are the Platoon Leaders Class, for sophomores and juniors, and the Officers Candidates Class, which is geared toward seniors. Though both programs blend into a single school, they are considered separate.

    “”What the commitment is, in regards to my program, is to go to Officer Candidate School or Platoon Leaders Class in the summer,”” Luevano said. “”Depending on the student’s standing – if freshman or sophomore – they would go six weeks in the summer, and then in the following summer, they would take part again for six weeks for a total of 12 weeks.

    “”If they’re a junior or senior, they go 10 straight weeks. Once the student completes OCS or PLC and graduates college, they will be commissioned as a second lieutenant.””

    If the commission is accepted there, students must give a three-and-a-half year commitment.

    “”But at the end of the program, the student can still deny the commission,”” Luevano said.

    Students in the program will also receive approximately $400 a week for their enrollment, as well as up to 12 elective credits. Luevano said 35 UA students may be heading to Quantico, Va., in the summer to participate in the program.

    “”Most of the quality candidates come out of (the) UA,”” said Luevano, who also recruits out of the University of Texas, El Paso, and New Mexico State University.

    Luevano said one of the largest draws to the program is the guarantee, after Officer Candidate School, to attend aviation school.

    “”We’re one of the few services that can offer that,”” he said.

    To draw attention to the program, Luevano partners with Marine Corp Pilot Capt. Rick Birt to let interested students fly a jet once a semester. It is also a generic screening process.

    “”There are some guys who think they might want to fly, but they get scared when they’re up there or they start to throw up. That’s what this is for,”” Luevano said.

    Two civilians were fortunate enough to take part in the sole flight on Tuesday. Birt, who has been a pilot since 2002, is stationed in Ft. Worth, Texas, but enjoys making the bi-annual trip. The program takes potential pilots up in the air only three days each semester. Birt is taking the last group up today.

    “”It’s still fun to fly with people that haven’t flown before and to see their excitement,”” he said.

    Birt joked that there could be some turbulence, and if anyone felt they might be getting sick, “”there are ziplock bags in the back.”” During a particularly steep climb, all passengers were shoved back into their seats.

    Birt smiled, “”That’s G-force. Right now it’s about two.””

    All four passengers spent at least 10 minutes behind the controls of the plane, making left turns, dives and climbs. Birt agreed with Luevano, saying the Officer Candidate School program is an effective tool for curious students.

    “”A lot of businesses do that, and that’s kind of what we’re doing. It really is an internship. (The students) come out for the summer; they get paid for OCS, which is more challenging than most internships,”” Birt said. “”But they have the opportunity to see what the Marine Corp is all about.””

    “”As officers, we have all been through school. So we understand the informed decision . . . We show you everything – you go to OCS, and you’re still not obligated to serve,”” Luevano said. “”A lot of them are skeptical who think it isn’t true. But it is true.””

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