Recovered from the Internet archives/cache, this post was one of the most popular because of the experiences burned into all of us who went through those 14 weeks of metamorphosis from college graduate to naval officer. Enjoy…again.
Originally posted 3 May, 2006
Pressure Point, 1990
Now for a Navy perspective.
Imagine you are a brand-new college graduate.
You had 4 (or 5, in some cases) years of fun and whoopee and all that jazz – the classic line by Gunny Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman – “smokin’ dope and bad mouthin’ your country!”
But…you are headed to Pensacola! Freakin’ Florida, for cryin’ out loud! To this thing called Aviation Officer Candidate School. Can’t be *that* difficult. Little bit of that military stuff, lots of sunshine….beachin’ it…babes…booze…! You always LOVED that line in “The Great Santini”:
Son, never ask a man if he is a fighter pilot. If he is, he’ll let you know. If he isn’t, don’t embarrass him.
You arrive at the Cradle of Naval Aviation….climb out of the car or taxi or whatever….and see…..this:
Needless to say, as did the young VMI newbie in John’s photo, I did get to know a number of the above Drill Instructors in an up-close-and-personal manner, oftentimes accompanied by an intimate view of throbbing forehead veins and taut neck muscles, a string of invective that included such colorful and innovative terms such as “whale crap” and “useless turd” and (oh, the things you’ll never forget) getting popped in the forehead multiple times by the brim of that Smokey-the-Bear hat as Staff Seargent Bowling (United States Marine Corp) discussed with me some minor trangression regarding my room or my personal being or the fact that I lived and breathed, while in his next breath expressing concern about whether or not my parents were actually married.
As in the comments up on OP-FOR, this was not hazing. This was as far from that sort of activity as could possibly be. This was separating the wheat from the chaff. Those who could hack it from those who couldn’t. This was applying as much pressure in a controlled situation as could possibly be applied in such a short period of time to see who would say “I don’t need this crap!” and would DOR (”Dismiss on request”). The key point being, of course, if you ended up a few years hence being 3 miles behind a carrier on a dark and windy night with one engine shut down, a fuel-transfer problem, working blue-water operations (meaning no land divert to go to) and you have sole responsibility for however-many-millions of dollars worth of taxpayer hardware under your butt, THEN was not exactly the time to say “I don’t need this crap!”.
In a nutshell, finding out if someone can’t handle pressure at this stage is really one of the smartest approaches that could be developed. Even though the Navy does some funky things sometimes, they did THIS right.
Update: Buddy and fellow AOCS-grad Steve from the Wood Shed reminded me of what commissioning and that first salute was like – one of the true most proudest moments. Navy tradition says the first salute you get after you become an officer calls for the presentation of a silver dollar to the individual giving you the salute. This was always at a ceremony with our drill instructor, and this pic is of my passing the silver dollar over to Gunnery Sergeant Washington, USMC: (forgive the mid-1980’s photograph quality)
Filed under Military
OK Pinch. I recognize Bowling, Jones (did he ever leave?), and a few more but some faces are missing. The ones I do recognize were new when I graduated. That would put you in AOCS about 1988 I’m guessing, right?
The memories of trash can lids slinging down hallways at 0500, waking up 3 miles into a 5 mile run, and doing touch-and-goes throughout my classes. SSGT Hancock’s lights out broadcast on the 1MC pointing out every deficiency and always singling out the weakest among us as we passed out from exhaustion. If I remember right my class didn’t get liberty until the very end. Hancock didn’t want his “girls” out of lock-up so he and his fellow DI’s manufactured infractions for every inspection. We never gave up trying though which was no doubt one of his lessons.
Graduation and the salute from SSGT Hancock, USMC, was one of the proudest days of my life. Which I believe is the whole point behind the pressure of AOCS. Separate those who can’t hack the pressure and impart a sense of earned respect.
I don’t remember all of them, but GYSGT Washington was bottom left, my DI. GYSGT Crenshaw is the middle left. SSGT Gerhart is third up on the right and after him (moving up) is SSGT Holtree (I think). MSGT Pfleiger was the guy in the very middle, the chief drill instructor. Had a lovely 3″ scar down one cheek – he was the very epitome of the statement “I hole your career, your life, your very existance in my hands”. True story – after commissioning, we were over at the AOC club for the reception and I was in using the “facilities” (recycling beer – whatever) and in walks MSGT Pfleiger. After 14 weeks of being scared to death of this guy even “looking” at me, we’re standing there doing our business and he says…”Water’s cold”. I came back with the requisite reply “Sure is…deep too!”. An increase in base pay wasn’t the only thing those silver Ensign bars gave me!
I was class 05-85, so commissioning was Feb of 1985. Thanks for mentioning that salute and the passing of the silver dollar – I added that pic to the post.
Thanks for the “motivation” and a great segway to my thoughts. I had been thinking about a post calling for stories like this for the last few days.
The post is here, with a link back to this post.
Post more if you got ‘em!
Operation Forward Pass » Blog Archive » Operation Forward Pass – What’s it About
May 3rd, 2006 at 11:44 pm
[…] stapinch</a>, a blog of a former Naval Aviator, so I chased it. His post on <a href=”http://instapinch.com/blog/?p=148″>graduation from college and heading to the cradle of Naval Aviation for AOCS</a> has motivated me to […]
I remember going down there in the mid-80’s as a kid to see my father graduate from knife and fork school (aka LDO/CWO school) that was just up the road from AOCS in Pensacola. Then I saw all the same things you were talking about again as a grown adult going through as an enlisted member over at the Aviation A-school over where the old Chevalier Field was located. Watching OCS candidates running around chasing Mr and Ms. Squirrel cause the returned the salute of an A-school student. Seeing OCS candidates in formation practicing over near the main side gym to march in formation, then seeing the Marine Gunny’s stop and just pull a candidate out to explain in typical Marine Gunny fashion how they were otherwise making a mess of their formations. Seeing some of the candidates making mistakes gave us students a warm and fuzzy since we knew that soon enough they would be with us in the fleet and to a point a number of us could see they started up just as messed up as we were.
As long as I’ve known you, Bill, I’ve never heard some of these stories. They’re good stuff for us landlubbers who only know F-14s from “TopGun”.
I was a member of Class 04-76 and my DI was SSgt. W.D. Wieckowski, best friend of SSgt. Penn of “Pressure Point” fame. (I would love to see that movie again).
I was commissioned May 21, 1976 and every May 21 I think back to that day and all the experiences we had. I am reminded of Candidate Sanchez, and while he probably started in 01-76, he found his way down into my class. Sanchez was a great kid, but challenged in many ways – marching was not his strong suit. One day we were drilling on the seawall and the DI was fed up with Sanchez, so he pointed him toward the bay and told him to march. The DI then turned to us (we had taken a knee facing the bay) to give us some more instruction. The DI totally forgot about Sanchez until he saw surprise in our eyes – yes Sanchez did not bother to stop marching a the edge of the seawall and he went out of sight. We all ran and peered over the edge to see Sanchez, standing at attnetion in about 5 feet of water, Crome Dome floating beside him; priceless!
I made the Navy a career, flew F-14’s and fondly look back on those times.
Thanks Pinch for the blog.
Thanks for the memories.
July 5th, 2006 at 2:31 pm
I was an AVROC class 647(summer 1976)
My DI was SSGT Marsden USMC.
Looking for “Pressure Point” video.
What ever happened to SSGT Penn USMC??
Anyway, went on to fly A-7E and F/A-18
The picture looks right, the carpet looks right, but unless the guy 3rd on the left is GYSGT Donahue USMC, I don’t know any of these guys. And if this was anywhere near 1989 I ought to – I was in 5 different classes! 17-89, 18-89, 19-89, 21-89, and 23-89…
I cant remember why I didnt go into 20 and 22 – i must’ve had a thing against Batt II since that’s where GYSGT Donahue USMC prowled. But I do remember well my time with SSGT Rodney Robbins USMC and my all-time favorite: His mama named him Steve, but his real name (and the one I always called him) was “Gunnery Sargent Holt United States Marine Corps Non Commissioned Officer In Charge Of Battalion One.” When they remade “Pressure Point” in 1989, he starred. I would love to get a copy of that too – either the old or new version, I don’t care.
September 2nd, 2006 at 1:59 pm
..was aocs class 29-74…SSgt Penn was my DI…then SSgt Marsden came in…..roomed with Darth (Dan) Cain….ex marine DI…talk about trouble…never had a bunk that wasn’t destroyed daily…Penn was the original star of Pressure Point…anyone know how to acquire a copy???…..went on to fly helos for 20 years and pull alot of fighter guys out of the drink….got to fly off the Ranger in the back of an F-14 with Jethro Burdine….the best E ticket ride anywhere…
Anthony “Reg” Egeln
November 23rd, 2006 at 2:24 pm
My buddy and I, both AOCS 30-80, were discussing the story I heard that Katie Couric’s late husband, Jay Monahan, was an AOC about the same time as us. Can anyone confirm that and did he complete AOCS and go on to wings? I heard he was an NFO in the P-3 community. Please pmail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, Anthony
December 2nd, 2006 at 12:12 am
I was in Batt III’s class 18-76, commissioned 15 Oct 76, an NFO who put in a quick 2500 hours in EC130s with VQ-4 before exiting in 1981. AOCS was life-changing, pivotal for my character, and turned out to be perfect preperation, not just for the controlled chaos of naval aviation, but for all of life beyond the flight suits and blue skies. If there are any reading these replies and asking, “Should I?”, there is only one right answer–”Do it.”
Andre the Giant
May 10th, 2007 at 1:35 pm
Alas, AOCS is no more, and soon training Officer Candidates will be no more in Pensacola. OCS is moving to Newport due to a BRAC order. The seawall has also been slicked due to Hurricane Ivan; no more hangars, pools or survival exhibits near the water. Even the O-course is gone. And in an ironic twist of fate, my DI from 1980, Gunny “Buck” Welcher (who also worked as the technical advisor on ‘Officer and a Gentleman’), is now over in Iraq working as a contractor. The terrorists have no chance.
May 28th, 2007 at 11:13 pm
I was class 27-84 – It was odd seeing MSGT Pfleiger in that pic – he seemed taller back then….maybe because he is standing next to Crenshaw who was a solid 6′4″. I’ll never forget the scary eyes of the DI 2nd to the left. That would be Staff Sargent McQuigg (United States Marine Corp). He was a Poopie week DI and a certifiable mean, sadistic psychopath. Looking for my old DI, GSGT Goforth, but don’t see him in the pic. Thanks for the memories!
June 7th, 2007 at 5:53 pm
To “Andre the Giant” -
Were you one of “Welcher’s Wings”? I thought he only had a couple classes before he took off to Bremerton to film in late 80. What is he doing in IRAQ and do you know his e-mail address?
June 13th, 2007 at 6:46 am
The old Gunny is alive and well in Iraq
June 13th, 2007 at 6:50 am
The old Gunny is alive and well in Iraq. Hell boys Marines are always looking for an adventure
[…] a look back at this Instapinch post on what it was like to be an aviation officer candidate in the late summer of 1984 when just about […]
Great stuff…Gunny Hawks, #2 from right to left. I believe this is a picture from late ‘84 or early ‘85. I remember waaaay to many of these folks….but then, that was a few brew ha-ha’s ago…..
October 11th, 2007 at 11:58 pm
Has anybody been able to find a copy of “Pressure Point” yet? Would love to get a copy of the original.
Guido AOCS 22-77
October 23rd, 2007 at 9:39 am
Thanks for the great series of posts. I found this site looking in Google for a copy of “Pressure Point”, still one of the funniest 15 minutes of film anywhere. At least for those of us who lived that experience. I was AOCS 22-77, with Sgt Michael Payne, USMC. Shit, when I’m 90 and can’t remember my own name I’ll still remember him. Yeah, AOCS is gone now, but there’s this: about four years ago I passed through NPA after retiring in DC and stopped in to see the museum. I happened by the AOCS chow hall in time to see a DI PT the living crap out of his class. Lemme tell you, even though I’d heard the stories that the DIs had gone all PC and soft, that PT session looked the real deal to me. I stood there watching from afar, all salty retired-Captain ‘n shit, and that DI spied me watching. While his candidates were cranking out bends & thrusts he turned and faced me and stared at me from under the brim of his Smokey. My blood ran cold. Some things never change.
January 18th, 2008 at 10:27 pm
AOCS 20-82, DI was Gysgt J.T. Campos United States Marine Corps. Monday morning of “Poopie Week” will live in my memory forever.
If anyone ever finds a copy of Pressure Point (sitting around an old recruiting office?), please post it here.
February 7th, 2008 at 10:49 am
I attended AOCS as an AVROC in classes 20A-88 and 06-89. Prior to attending the first half, the recruiter showed me the first itteration of the “Pressure Point” video. Soon after my commissioning, another “Pressure Point” video was made featuring a Batt I Drill Instructor named Gysgt Holt. Any ideas as to where I may be able to find either of these two videos? Thanks for the help.
February 22nd, 2008 at 11:37 am
Love the photo of the DI’s. I was in 26-85, Gunny Holtry, 4th from right. I also had the pleasure of having Staff Sgt. Bowling before they realized I sink better than I swim. He had some inspirational conversations with us over the intercom those first couple nights trying to convince us that our DOR was inevitable, so we might as well get it out of the way sooner than later.
February 24th, 2008 at 10:15 am
Gunny Hawks and SSGT McQuigg were my Poopie Week Drill Instructors before we were handed off to GYSGT Douglas E. Kerr, USMC. Class 18-84 was “Lean, Mean, Bright as the sun, disciplined sir!” Other DI’s felt sorry for us as Gunny Kerr could be a little rugged and terse. But they’re all great memories now. Including the one where I had SSGT McQuigg and his mom cooking crawdads. And–I’ve got one more story about how I hugged MSGT Pfleiger–and got away with it. That’s for another day.
Thanks for bringing back such great memories. I’m still trying to understand the guys who DOR’ed the evening after we got our heads shaved. Gunny Kerr said we’d all look like cue-balls and that old Suzy Rottencrotch wouldn’t have us back—and he was right!
Chris Zech 06-84
February 27th, 2008 at 2:38 pm
Great photo of the DI’s in front of the Regiment Bldg – home of the tailhook club, poopie week and Top Pfleiger’s lair. His office and rack room were unreal – always perfect, spotless, and nothng adrift – like a museum display.
For Jim Danhakl – that’s GYSGT Goforth just to the right of MSGT Pfleiger (zoom the hi-res version of the picture).
Many fond memories of both of them during my P’cola days, as well as those of my DI, the great GYSGT Walker – Batt II Hogs! Too bad he didn’t make the picture. I can still remember his voice, particularly when it went into “overdrive”. Saw him briefly in the late 80’s when he was stationed at MCAS New River. If anyone knows of his whereabouts let me know – I owe him a beer or three.
February 27th, 2008 at 7:38 pm
In a strange way this brings back exciting memories of when we were all going to fly F-14s and be in the Navy for 20 years. I arrived in Pensacola in June of ‘86 and it still feels like yesterday. The days truly did go by like weeks, and the weeks went by like days. I instantly recognized SSGT Hancock United State Marine Corps, and yes, he still scares me.
It’s funny how 22 years later when I walk into a Navy head it still has that smell and I am instanlty catapulted back to the head in Batt II. Anybody else?
Apparently the Navy Recruiting Command won an international Film award for Pressure Point in 1974. I’m sure they’ve got an archived copy of it. Might be worth it to contact them to see how it might be obtained.
Thanks for posting that picture.
March 19th, 2008 at 4:57 pm
“18, hiiiighly motivated, aviation, officer, candidates maaaarch into chow! Aye aye, sir!”
“Ready, step!” (remove cover and stomp brass at same time, or else!)
Can’t believe it’s all over now. Our DI was SSGT Gilbert Macias, United States Marine Corps. Still in touch with some AOCS buds after all these years. What an experience!
If anyone finds a website to get a copy “Pressure Point”, please post it.
March 25th, 2008 at 2:42 pm
Awesome post. (Shack – I think I knew you!)
SSGT Mathews, USMC ruled my life for 15 weeks and was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Thoughts of “marchin’ into chow” still crack me up… I forgot that Holt redid “Pressure Point.” We always referred to him as the antichrist and he loved to ‘work’ outside his own classes. He even ran at attention!
Thanks for the posts! Very aware of the hurricane and BRAC damage to AOCS, very dissapointing. (Google earth is depressing!) My father went through in ‘52 and going to the very same “ACRAC” as he – for beers on Friday nights – is a great bond. AOCS – Great memories!! Wonderful experience.
April 4th, 2008 at 11:39 am
Is Gunny Buck still scaring the shit outa the undeserving in Iraq? Cool, last I heard he was working in a car dealership in Dallas with Master Guns Steve Clark!
Great post but by the way DOR is Drop on Request. If Gunny’s up on this net I wonder if he remembers getting kicked out of P’Cola Base Housing for our morning runs because the Jody’s were too filthy. Candidate Rutledge took us home getting 12-80 to use “Jesus Loves Me, this I know” as the Jody, with GB screaming at us to shut the fuck up because we were embarassing him. He PT’d us for about a half hour afterwards but it was worth it. Darn-near our finest hour.
April 18th, 2008 at 3:50 am
Still kicking boys – hanging in Iraq.
April 23rd, 2008 at 5:03 pm
Geez…. Gunny Buck. I graduated (09-81, GSGT Roger D. Thixton, USMC) the week you came back from Hollywood. Nobody was expecting you and you crept up on us as we were forming up in front of the barracks. For reasons unknown to me, you popped your face in front of mine, smokey hat brim to my forehead and asked, “Am I not the best looking drill instructor in the entire Marine Corps.” I believe I agreed loudly. My nickname then was Admiral and my father, the real Admiral, was the reviewing officer that day. He and I made a pact that after AOCS no one would ever know we were related. I did 12 years and the secret that had been told to the DI’s in Pensacola (by whom, I still wonder) never saw the light of day again. Be careful in Iraq.
– bill holland
PT’ing in the courtyard one fine summer day in 1976
(squat thrusts, pushups, leg lifts, etc.) when suddenly we hear “Sir, Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate Mitchard, Class 646-76, requests permission to speak”. Staff Sgt. Connor’s gutteral: “Speak”. “Sir, this candidate has ants all over him”. A mad scramble ensues to clear the candidate of angry fire ants. Candidate Mitchard had lain on his back in an admirably disciplined way while the fire ants inflicted what had to have been thousands of painful bites. He did get to spend the
night in the cool, quiet dispensary though.
Hey, “Corsairs Forever:” You must be Mike K! Cause I was also in Honor Class 18-84, and the only person who would think back to AOCS and think of cooking crawdads would be the “Ragin’ Cajun” himself. Give me an email: email@example.com
I remember Gunny Kerr on the Friday before our Drill Comp when he took off his duty belt and threw it to the deck and “fired” us, and told us he wasn’t going to be our DI anymore. Both Gunny Hawks and Gunny Crenshaw came in that weekend and drilled us behind the hangars (it was verboten to both drill on the weekend, and for a DI to drill another DI’s class). We managed to pass.
With respect to discipline, we didn’t put the “disciplined, sir” that Corsairs Forever notes on our t-shirts. I think we knew it wasn’t true! I remember getting “Black Holed” the morning of our commissioning. Gunny Kerr marched us around the batts that morning, and then marched us back to where the Black Hole had been filled up. He got on the opposite side of the Hole and ordered us in. We thought he was just playing a mind game on us. (”He couldn’t possibly be serious, could he?”). We balked. Whispers of “Common Sense” (our “order number one”) went around. He ordered us in again, louder this time. Right! We charged forward, deliberately splashing him with all the mud and sand! Ha, ha!
I remember Gunny Kerr PT’ing me in his office. He ordered me to do 100 knuckle push-ups. When I got to about 80 or so and was still going strong, he ordered me to stop, and put my hand on his desk. Then, with a big theatrical flourish, he took a big rubber mallet out of his desk and hammered it down right next to my hand. I didn’t flinch, since I hadn’t been ordered to do so. He said, “Hanson, I thought you’re going to be an intelligence officer. You sure are stupid.” Just begin. I was still breathing hard, and as I withdrew my hand, it brushed against his cigarette lighter. This had been a gift from some Marines in a previous tour, and was the shape of an aircraft. As I was one of the “Gremlins” who cleaned the DI office every night, I knew each DI had something on his desk he didn’t want anybody to touch or clean. This item was Kerr’s. The lighter fell to the ground and broke. He looked over the desk and the lighter and yelled, “Hanson, just begin! Just f…… begin!!” At the first salute ceremony, the conversation went like this: Kerr: “Good morning, sir.” Me: “Good morning, Gunnery Sergeant.” Kerr: “I’ll still remember the lighter.”
July 9th, 2008 at 8:52 pm
I was in AOCS Class 14-81, the first class of LDO Aviators and Gunny Buck was our DI. He came back the week we graduated in July 81 from making the movie “Officer and a Gentleman”. If you have the DVD, check out the Directors comments on Gunny Buck. Great Stuff. Gunny Buck, trying to plan a reunion for our class, e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org.
1stSgt Rodger D. Thixton
July 27th, 2008 at 5:43 am
In response to the question about Jay Monahan (Katie Couric’s husband) he was in class 09-81. I was his DI and talked to one of his classmates last summer.
In response to the question about Gunny Walker, he is in Jacksonville, NC. He retired here.
If any of you were mine, drop me a line at email@example.com
1st Sgt. Thixton, USMC Retired
August 4th, 2008 at 4:44 pm
I recognize this photo – I was a graduate of AOCS Class 08-85 with Staff Sgt McQuigg, USMC (standing 2nd up behind Gunnery Sergeant Washington, USMC).
Last names as I recall starting from left:
McQuigg – Class 08-85 Drill Instructor
(Can’t recall – but he really had a lot of fun punishing me during poopie week).
Nice photo. I graduated on 05 April 1985. My Father administered my oath. It was a day I will never forget. I was sad to hear this program was terminated – it honestly changed my life.
Thanks for sharing this photo.
August 15th, 2008 at 2:33 pm
I am actually getting tense just reading this!
I was in Honor Class 05-89, Gunnery Segeant Holt, United States Marine Corps, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Battalion I. That guy would still scare the crap out of me if I saw him today.
I am 6′3″ and swore he was taller than me. I finally eye-balled him one day and was shocked at how small he was. Unfortunately, he caught me and I “owed-him.”
I was in the Navy for about 8 years, never met a more professional people that the Drill Instructors in AOCS.
AOCS Class 04-76, SSgt. Wieckowski
Candidate Jorszack and myself were on sub-swim the entire time we were at P-cola. One day, late in the afternoon, we were called to the DI’s office. After properly executing our “Office Entry” procedure and standing at attention in front of his desk, he kindly stated he didn’t want us to be left behind to graduate with another class, that he wanted to help us master swimming. (Was he really human after all….did he really have a heart?) He asked us if we had to do the frog kick in some of the strokes involved in swimming. (Maybe he really was interested in helping us.) He said he thought he had an idea that might help us improve. “FROG-F***ERS BEGIN!!!!!” For 10 minutes he lectured us that we weren’t really trying hard enough while we were doing our squat-thrusts. He stopped lecturing but we continued PT-ing in his office, fearing for our lives if we should even think about slacking off. Sometime later, we lay exhausted on the floor of his office in our own pools of sweat, waiting for his voice to expound about our sorry, lady-like performance. Silence – except for our heavy breathing. We lay on the floor looking at each other. Slowly, we looked up toward his desk, still expecting to be chastised. His chair was empty. We sat up. His Smokey the Bear hat was gone. Crawling over to the window, we gazed out towards the spot where his car was normally parked – only to notice that his car was GONE! He had left us PT-ing in his office and had gone home for the day….undoubtedly laughing all the way home! Ah, the memories. Anybody find a copy of the original “Pressure Point” yet?
August 19th, 2008 at 8:20 am
Graduated with Honor Class 04-91 and I believe that I have a copy of the second edition of Pressure Point with Gunny Holt at home in an old box. I will try and load it onto the computer and share it with everyone. Reading your stories brings back such fond memories. I started out with 14-90 but failed the initial swim test, rolled into 15-90 where Gunny Robbins helped me tear a bicipital tendon through one hour and five minutes of holding our rifles straight out in front of us (what was that called?) Finished up with Staff SGT Ford in class 04-91. Still seems like yesterday.
I contacted the folks down at Pensacola to see about tracking down a copy of the original Pressure Point. They couldn’t find it anywhere but did send me the remake that includes F-18’s in it. I have that on DVD, so anyone who wants a copy can give me a holler via email and I can burn a copy for you.
Still looking for the original.
August 21st, 2008 at 3:15 pm
Not sure about a copy, but one of the members in the movie LCDR John Phillips might have one. He was in VQ-3 with me maybe you can track him down. I last saw him in Pensacola in about 1995.
Barry Holmes 27-81
August 22nd, 2008 at 8:32 am
I started in July of 1981 with Staff Seargent Wendt USMC. Gunny Buck had just returned from his tour of duty with the “Officer and a Gentleman” crowd. Some of the DI’s called him “Hollywood Buck” which we didn’t understand at the time. I was in the AOC band and there was a trumpet player named Hazelhurst. Gunny Buck would wander over while we were waiting for the graduation march to start each week and yell “Play me the blues Hazelhurst”. He would then start playing solo the most amazing blues you’ve ever heard since Louis Armstrong. One of the rare times I saw Gunny Buck smile.
Once during an RLP Gunny Buck was loudly asking the “Orders of a Sentry”. All of the sudden I realized he was “constant bearing, decreasing range”. The brim of his Smokey hat made contact with my forehead. I held my ground and the next thing you know I felt his tongue in my mouth while he was screaming. I shared that fond memory with him after graduation and we both had a good laugh. I sat next to actor David Keith on an airplane one time and told him that story. I thought he was going to pee his pants laughing.
1st Sgt. Thixton USMC…You yelled in my ear so loud that I still blame you when my wife says “You never listen”.
Thanks all for the memories.
Hey Barry(fellow 27-81 classmate) good to hear from you. Remember when I left my locker unlocked in poopieville ugggg! Gunny Buck(hollywood), glade to hear your alive and doing well. Heard that SSGT Wendt passed…….I guess our years are catching up to us. Two seven eight one, if we can’t do it can’t be done, ooou rahhh!!
September 9th, 2008 at 3:39 pm
Started w class 1984 and graduated w 2084 (an Aero Rock!) Funny story above about SSgt Kerr “firing” his class and other DIs coming in to drill them. Same thing happened when Gunny Goforth threw his cover on the tarmac during drill and walked away, and GYSgt Washington gathered us around for a pep talk about how hard Gunny Go was working so that we’d ribbon at drill comp. Our class spent countless hours in the head after hours performing rifle drill.
Myself and three others were once called to the DIs office for not saluting School’s Command CO at 4am when he arrived, and we were busy buffing floors while on Regimental Msgr duty, complete with duty belts and covers. One of us managed to “release some air” during our pushup and tailhook session in the DIs office (I think it was me; yes, yes it was!) and they cleared the office of everyone but me, then proceeded to say some very impolite things to me about my capabilities, lineage and heritage. Long day for sure, but I grew up at AOCS and learned so much about myself. Probably the most impactful situation I’ve had in my life given the duration and level of growth experienced. Fun to laugh about it now, but the mere site of MSGT Phlaeger gave one extreme cause for concern of life and limb, and rightfully so.
We heard that the 3″ scar was earned in Vietnam, but some thought it was at the hand of a jealous husband.
September 9th, 2008 at 3:48 pm
PS. I believe this photo is circa summer 1984. L-R and counterclockwise, starting from the bottom left, I have:
SSGT McQuigg (The Butcher)
MSGT Bruce Phlaeger
GYSGT Danny Goforth
GYSGT Danny Hawks
I was thrilled that GYSGT Foley (my name sake) arrived in July 84, for then my life truly went to hell. But he did not remain long. Rumors swirled around his departure, but it’s inconsequential now. I went from “not worthy to clean up after his dog” to being “just like his dog” to him in less than 8 weeks. High honors at the time.
Dan Hawks 1stSgt (Ret)
October 30th, 2008 at 12:56 pm
Got curious about AOCS and just like the folks on this site brought back numerous memories.
November 7th, 2008 at 3:58 pm
I was lucky enough to have Gunny Buck as my DI while in Pensacola. I will never forget him. One day he felt that my nose hair was a little much so in the chow hall he had me stand front and center with our other favorite DI Gysgt Thixton and burned the hairs out of my nose with his lighter. It got a few laughs. Even I thought it was funny!
Another situation found me receiving flowers from a girlfriend and of course Gunny Buck made an issue of it and asked if they were from my boyfriend from Gulf Shores. In any event, Gunny had me parade inside and outside quarters holding the flowers and leading the class and making a display in front of the other Batt II as well. Oh the memories!
December 11th, 2008 at 12:34 am
I was class 09-89 BAT I had a seizure final week and was booted. SSG hudson was my DI, Msgt Medley was in charge, Donahue and gsgtHolt( antichrist)were there, as was Ssgt Robbins( a black version of the Grinch who stole chrismas). Class 10-89 redid Pressure point with GSGT Holt. We obtained a bootleg version of the tryouts for that video and used it to roast DI’s at graduation. My class name was “PT ME”. I am looking for the tryout tape of the DI’s. I beleive I know rodgers and Shack above. There was a heavy black kid in our class AIMDO Dews, he lost his belly and class name became “Body by AOCS” We were being PT’d indoors on a black flag day and DEWS was slowing the class down. SSGT asked class 09-89 to recite the honor code, asked Dews if he violated the honor code filling out forms at NAMI, and then told the class that his kids send more time fucking around the house, than Dews does in the program. Anyone get to enjoy the sand pit known as the BAT I rose garden?
Great memories, I was in AOCS class 18-88 on the gravy train with SSgt RJ Barber in Bat II. In week 15 was a Bat I Candy-O under Gunny Holt, that guy was spooky. Anyone remember MGySgt Bearup? Would love to see a copy of the remake of Pressure Point if available!
January 13th, 2009 at 2:39 pm
Reading the Blog brought back a lot of good memories of Young Officers to be.. that would head out into the world for a true adventure.
Retired in 1999 and still kicking…
January 14th, 2009 at 12:09 am
Class 13-80 Batt II,SSGT G. Macias, USMC. AOCS was the single most formative event in my life, went from a college knucklehead to someone worthy of wearing an officer’s uniform. We went to great lengths to avoid Gunny Buck and the rest of the Batt III staff. Remember SGT Farley, USMC hiding up in a tree to catch us goofing off while marching to class. The stories are.
Retired in 2000 after 20 flying E-2’s.
David T. Penn, LtCol, USMC (Ret)
January 17th, 2009 at 5:37 pm
I could not help but note many former candidates. I am still alive and can help any of you get a copy of the movie Pressure Point. I have the origional.
January 23rd, 2009 at 2:06 am
Have been in search of Pressure Point forever!!
Please give me some gouge on how to get a copy. Gotta show the kids.
Thanks and R,
Pat “Farmer” McDonnell
CAPT USN(RC) Ret
I served as a D.I. at Navy OCS Pensacola from Feb 1996 – Feb 1998. Best time of my career. I posted many videos of my time at Navy OCS on YouTube, seek user CROUCHJE
The tall monster at the top right of the team photo of this great website is the now retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Jerry Holtry. He retired in Pensacola and always looking for former OCS pigs to wearout and drink a beer with.
MGYSGT Holtry returned to Navy OCS in 1996 and stayed until retirement in 1999. You can find him listed in the white pages or contact me for a lead. I am sure he has plenty of information on the other D.I.’s of that generation from AOCS.
February 23rd, 2009 at 7:11 pm
Class 32-80…Gunnery Sergeant Welcher, USMC was my DI and I’ve always been proud of that. Gunny Buck if you’re still out there remember the “Old and Bold”. We all owe you a lot.
February 25th, 2009 at 11:38 pm
I was in class 04-76 as well, found this site looking for “Pressure Point” as well. Nitro, what’s your real name? I flew F-14’s on the west coast and retired from the reserve after 22 years. Chris Ives here, or Mole and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 25th, 2009 at 11:42 pm
I’d like to get a copy of the movie “Pressure Point” if anyone knows how to get one. Greatly appreciated,
March 7th, 2009 at 11:52 pm
Lt.Col. Penn!! S.H.!! Man, you scared the crap out of all of us in 03-75 before, during, and after. We had SSgt G.L. Stukes, an outstanding leader…we asked him if we could xfer to USMC, but when he said we’d have to go all the way through Quantico + Basic school, we…uh, declined. Sir, please publish a way to get Pressure Pt.; it was a tremendous heads-up and I’ll bet lowered the DOR rate, since we now knew what to expect–and who to try to avoid! YOU! Although, GSgt Hill was just plain scary. We were Batt 2 and won drill comp every Fri; Hill would P.T. Batt 1 into the deck endlessly for our beating them! Any idea where SSgt(then)Stukes is?
No one who made it through AOCS, even if not flt. training, has been forever changed by your(all of you) leadership. I went on to F-4’s/F-14’s, and constantly remember my AOCS experiences, including you, Lt. Col. Penn.
Thank you, sir. We owe you. Still.
March 12th, 2009 at 7:38 am
Class 22-84 Marching into chow! For me it was, “Band, Slimin into chow”. Funny how after 24 years the memories posted here and a bunch of others are still tumbling around in my brain. The first night checking in, the first RLP, Drill Comp out on the Sea Wall, and that first salute. Gunny Crenshaw saw us through, but refused my challenge on the O-course. “You think you can beat me Boy”, he retorted. AOCS may be gone as an avenue into Navy Air, but it sure isn’t forgotten. Anyone looking, I’m at email@example.com.
March 15th, 2009 at 6:59 am
SSgt Penn became an OFFICER?? What the heck were you thinking!!!? You were the first DI to PT the crap out of me during poopie week with AVROC Class 448-74. I came out of the head and was walking back to my room when you turned around the corner and I, of course, totally screwed up my brace. Remember it like yesterday; “Candidate, are you on medical hold?” “Nnnno sir!” was my stammered reply. Next thing I know this out of shape kid from Maine was doing side saddle hops and ball busters wondering what the heck I’d gotten myself into. You sir, and the other DI’s who entered my (and thousands of others like me) life truly made me a man and showed me I could do just about anything (including that 12′ wall on the ‘O course! Thank you.
Spent 24 years on active duty flying E-2’s and now the not so friendly skies as an AA pilot.
I would also love to have a copy of the original Pressure Point and have had absolutely no luck locating one. LCol Penn (still wow!), if you see this, I would be happy to pay for any copy costs of this classic. “Hey bud, which way to the jets…?”
March 25th, 2009 at 4:08 am
I was in 16-89. SSGT Matthews, United States Marine Corps, was my DI. I also remember Holt (yep, the Antichrist), Medley (in charge) and Donaghue. I do believe that’s him in the photo above.
Originally was supposed to be in 15-89, but failed the swim test, so was relegated to T-Zone. Was on liberty one weekend at a movie theater in P-Cola. Had my hands in my pocket reading a poster and this voice from behind says “Get your hands out of your pocket candidate”. I softly snapped to attention and the DI (still unknown to me this day cuz I never eyeballed him) told me to report to MSGT Medley’s office at 0500 Monday morning.
I promptly was PT’d for about 45 minutes. “Mountain Climbers………GET EM!”
Anyone else from 16-89 reading this I would love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org
March 28th, 2009 at 4:16 pm
I was Honor Class 02-91, SSGT gambale United States Marine Corps’ first class. Boy did he have something to prove. Funny story, one day 14 years after AOCS I was standing in line at the Flying T-Cups in Disney World and who did I come up face to face to as we rounded the cue? The one and only meanest Dad I ever had. Almost had to “drop and give me 50 boy” on the spot. Some of the fondest memories ever.
Would love a copy of that video LtCol Penn!
LtCol Mike Shaughnessy
WA Air Guard
March 28th, 2009 at 4:22 pm
FYI forgot my email: Mikeshaughnessy@hotmail dot com. Is there any way to get that video onto Youtube?
March 30th, 2009 at 4:38 pm
Was in 32-86- Hancock’s Harlem Shuffle. Went back to Pcola in 2003 as a doc and had a ball watching the “canidates” go throught their paces. As a previous poster mentioned, I’ll probably forget my name if I live to be 90, but I’ll not forget SSGT Hancock, my class and all of the “fun.”
April 1st, 2009 at 8:44 pm
Pinch, thanks for the blog.
I was in Bat II class 01-77. SSGT Marsden was our D.I. I seem to remember starting with about 32 candidates and commisioning about 17. He had a great DOR rate. In fact SSGT Marsden got a candidate to DOR in Building 633 about an hour after we checked in!
Went on to fly A-7’s and A-4’s and still laugh out loud at memories of AOCS. Thank you, SSGT Marsden.
Col Penn, if you could some how make copies of “Pressure Point”, you’ve got a thousand guys out here that would love to have a copy. Thanks, Bart
Reminds me of the summer of 1982 at Fort Benning. Taught me a lot about myself and others, both good and bad. It was tough, but could have been tougher. Still proud to have gone through it though.
April 6th, 2009 at 5:57 pm
Class 26-80 — flew Lamps on the East Coast — left the Navy in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union swept the ocean clear of all subs (of note). Hoping Gunny Buck is OK — he was one of the major positive influences in my life / career.
April 11th, 2009 at 3:47 pm
“Pressure Point”(the original) starring Staff Sergeant D.T.(”P.T.”) Penn; what a story. I was in class 448-74 with Gunny Sergeant Wills, and then set back a few weeks to 501-74 with Staff Sergeant Penn (because I was caught shooting a moon!). The movie; man, I lived it for real. It was worth every minute of abuse and PT; turned a near college flunk-out into a Naval Officer and Naval Aviator. As a retired Naval Aviator, and a retired AA Captain, I can look back and say that the discipline, training, and “attention to detail” drilled into me by my DIs at NASC prepared me for the rigors of a lifetime of aviation. I look upon those times with the fondest of memories. Gunny Sergeant Wills, LCOL Penn; with the greatest pleasure, I salute you.
Hal “Boo Boo” Baker
April 17th, 2009 at 2:13 pm
Class 11-83 here graduated 13-83
Ended up in VQ-2 with EA-3Bs in Rota, SP. The first morning, after intro PT and head-shaving, my New England accent came out in response to a polite query from Gunny Thixton who had decided to assist Gunny Walker. Gunny Washington snapped his head arond and joined “Hoppin’ Papa T” (we never dared call him that within his earshot).
“Where you from, boy?”
“Littleton, Massachusetts, Sir!”
Gunny T – “Where the F— is that, boy?”
“25 miles Northwest of Boston, sir!”
Gunny Washington “Bahhhhston?”
Gunny T “Gunny Walker! We got ourselves a girl from Boston here!”
Gunny Walker “God-d—-d Communist!”
Gunny Washington – “Boston Commie! Don’t you look at me Boris!”
For the next two weeks, I was alternately called the “Commie from Boston” and “Baykuh” (to approximate the New England accent) until Gunny Walker referred to me and a classmate (who was much shorter than me – I was 6′3″) during a drill demo as “Yogi and Boo Boo.”
Yogi didn’t stick with him, but Boo Boo did with me. During my fleet and reserve career it was the call-sign that stuck. Interestingly, I heard other, more senior AOCs referring to Gunny Thixton and Gunny Walker as Yogi and Boo Boo.
Many fond and funny memories of AOCS. Funniest was when Gunny Walker got wind of my impersonations of the all the DIs and made me do them in front of all of them. They then critiqued me in a manner something like today’s American Idol!
April 27th, 2009 at 7:12 pm
Just discovered this site on a long overnight. Lucky to be a member of Honor Class 15-81, “Thixton’s Winged Warriors with college diplomas”. Many thanks to 1st Sgt Thixton USMC for all that you did. Still active Reserves at 28 years and counting, If there’s any classmates out there pop a email to email@example.com
Good to hear from you! I’m calling it quits from the reserves after 25 yrs this Dec.
May 4th, 2009 at 4:21 pm
Class 18-80 Welcher’s “Unchained Warriors”. Man what a hoot!
“Ladies from here on in you’ll do everything according to the Book of Buck”. Would love to get “Pressure Point” if anyone has it. I miss the Florida red ants crawling up my arms while I did pushups in the “rose garden”
Just read on another site that the Navy is seriously thinking about doing away with Marine D.I.’s at OCS in Newport. First they move away from Pensacola and now they’re getting rid of the D.I.’s. Say it ain’t so. Might as well be the Air Farce.
May 12th, 2009 at 11:20 pm
May 13th, 2009 at 3:34 pm
I was Class 10-84.
I believe 5th from right to be GSGT Goforth,
and 2nd from right is GSGT Hawks
and far right is my drill instructor,
SSGT William F. Carney.
Without question, 6th from the
right is MSGT Pfleiger. I remain
a card carrying member of his
May 18th, 2009 at 3:04 pm
Lt Col Penn:
Would much love a copy of the origianl Pressure Point. Graduate AOCS 40-85; SSgt Carney.
May 18th, 2009 at 9:16 pm
I was class 18-88 along with Mike Bell and Pete “Pitot Tube” Chase who posted here earlier. Anyone know about our DI SSgt Barber, USMC?
This is such a small community of “highly motivated and truly dedicated” individuals. Cooker, Chris Ives among the list of candidates I got to know later in life. Thanks for the video Pitot.
Carry on gentlemen.
May 27th, 2009 at 8:58 am
Anyone know where GYSGT Washington, USMC is now? I would love to get in touch with him.
It was great to reminisce. I was Class 03-84 and we had the first indoc week with two Gunnies to tag team us (Kerr and Goforth) before they turned us over to the ever-so-gentle GYSGT Washington. We were a pretty good team and never ran afoul of MSGT Pflieger so he challenged us two days before graduation. He dared any of us to step on his brass plate in the doorway. Foolishly, myself and 3 others took the challenge and joined MSGT Pflieger’s Tailhook Club two days later. I was in so much pain during the graduation ceremony as I wanted to scream every time I bent my arms for Parade Rest. But I still have that laminated red card.
June 2nd, 2009 at 10:51 pm
An AVROC in 18A-88 (GYSGT Jones) & Honor Class 19B-89 (MSGT Medley).
A transformative experience–21 years ago but it feels like it was yesterday.
June 10th, 2009 at 6:51 pm
Please pass to LTCOL Penn…
I had the privilege of graduating with SSGT Penn’s last AOC class. Reading the comments brought back a flood of treasured memories.
Class 33-75 (alphabetically): Greg Bludorn, Ray Fowler, Harry Johnson, Pat King, Steve Olson, Doug Rose, Jeff Schram, Steve Sears, Jerry Tiarsmith, and Greg Ungermann. That’s right…only ten candidates in that last class.
Colonel, I would greatly appreciate a copy of “Pressure Point.” I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jerry Tiarsmith can be contacted at email@example.com to arrange for a copy as well. We’re both history teachers now and our students would get a kick out of seeing a glimpse of AOC life in the 70s.
Chris Zech 06-84
June 12th, 2009 at 2:02 pm
Wow, this has grown since I last checked. I was going through a box of old stuff and found a cassette tape I thought I had lost long ago. It’s a recording of an unfortunate candidate being PT’d with very entertaining commentary by the DI. I just happened to be swabbing the head across the hall with my boom box cassette player in tow. If I can figure out how to xfer to a MP3 file I’ll post it.
June 19th, 2009 at 2:30 am
Read the post about Ssgt. Marsden and the high attrition rate and can vouch for its accuracy. I was in class 23-76 and started with 46 to 48 candidates and finished with just 23. It was hard to pin down the exact number because so many DOR’d in the first two days. I think he even got rid of one from 24-76. Last I had heard about Ssgt Marsden, he left the Marine Corps after AOCS and was a Dallas Police Officer.
Although Ssgt. Penn was not my DI, I did get to meet him during my “NAVIP trip” to NPA… he was the “guest speaker” and made his introduction by throwing a desk across the room to get our attention. He was still around in September 76′ when I returned for AOCS and I believe he was a GySgt by then but not doing any classes. Also, the “urban legend” at the time was that Ssgt Penn had a PhD in Psychology… Colonel Penn, if your still following this blog, maybe you could put that one to rest.
Enjoyed reading the many comments posted on the blog and would certainly like to obtain a copy of the original “Pressure Point” if it ever becomes available.
June 19th, 2009 at 5:13 pm
I’d love to get a copy of Pressure Point. Please let me know how I can get it so I can show my boys what it was like. I was in your last class (AVROC 649-76). I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for you I would have never made it through to commissioning and a 21 year career as an NFO. You might remember me as your Adjutant, Brass Monkey and Mail Orderly after a certain unfortunate incident during our move from Poopie week to our Batt when another Sgt pushed my sea bag off my shoulder and it almost hit you as you were walking up the stairs. Ah, the memories. Thanks for all you did for both me and your country.
June 21st, 2009 at 10:12 am
For all of you that ended up flying fighters, you might enjoy the following:
June 24th, 2009 at 10:58 pm
Nice website and pictures. I was in class 02-87 with then SSGT Hancock.
1stsgt Rodger Thixton USMC Retired
July 11th, 2009 at 2:46 pm
Hello College Boys.! Just a note to tell all who fell into my sights at Pensacola and the ones who flew under the radar, I am alive and fine and living in Jacksonville, NC. I am working with The Dept. of Veteran affairs at Camp LeJuene Naval Hospital helping all the wounded warriors coming in from Iraq and Afganistan. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Pensacola from 1980–1983
July 21st, 2009 at 10:19 am
A proud graduate of Macias’ Back Stabbin’ Marauders in 1978 (AV835). His first class, fresh out of DI school, one tough SOB. Liked to run as I recall…
Anyone remember a person removing the class flags from the other battalions (I and II) the evening before the track meet and giving them to Macias? (email@example.com)
July 27th, 2009 at 10:11 pm
I remember all these gents as if it were yesterday. I was in GySgt Holtry’s 20-85, didn’t finish, but wound up getting commissioned a couple of years later, retired in ‘06. We called ourselves “Jerry’s Kids.” Still remember his gag nametag that said “Enthusiasm” instead of his name. Went back and saw then-MGySgt Holtry in ‘97 while TAD to Corry, really good guy. Hope the years since then have treated him well.
What really strikes me about this photo is how young they all look. Time sure has flown by, but I would not change a thing.
Thanks for the photo and the great memory!
Jim LCDR (ret)
Class 27-86, SSGT Jose Sosa, DI. Started AOCS 13 May 1986 with over 65, graduated 13 on 15 Aug, one of the smallest classes ever at that time. Also had the commissioning ceremony rained out, so it was held the last minute at the Museum. Recall standing on the veranda of the Regimental Building with MGYSGT Bearup that morning and he snarled to no one in particular, “No one F’s with my ceremonies”. He couldn’t recall a ceremony that was rained out. Performed color guard duties almost entire time, got out of a lot of Rose Garden sessions for screwing up the parade practice/commissioning ceremonies, luckily we had perfect performance. GYSGT Holtry hated our class and loved screwing with us. Our class motto was “Brightness will fall from the sky”. Also known as “Sosa’s Wonder Class”, as it was a wonder we ever graduated. Passed the first RLP inspection, failed the rest, so Triangle Liberty was all we had. Funniest part of chow was almost at least once a week, someone counting off walking into the Chow Hall would yell, “Zero Ten”. Rest of the time was spent eating in fear! Despite our shortcomings, we excelled in everything, and SSGT Sosa was the best. He invented phrases like, “You must use your ‘perusual’ vision to see the guy next to you”. Summertime drill practice on the Seawall became good times as we got better at it, his best line to an “underachiever” in the class, “If you F up my drill competition, I’m DOR’ing”. It was hot and miserable for all those weeks, but I think I can remember every single day and wouldn’t trade that time of my life for anything, especially losing 40 pounds while eating sliders and fries every day! Mail call was always the best time of the day. The DI’s were all the best at completing their mission, and I commend each and every one of them. I still have my card from MGYSGT Bearup:
LCDR, USNR Ret.
July 30th, 2009 at 1:58 am
Pressure Point in Military.com.
August 6th, 2009 at 8:38 pm
All. I found a link with the remake of “Pressure Point”. GSGT Holt, United States Marine Corps, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge stars. I was in 16-89 and although he wasn’t my DI, he certainly was visible around the Bats.
This brings back some good memories!
August 27th, 2009 at 8:25 pm
Thanks for posting the Pressure Point video! My class, 07-89, were candidate officers at the time and were used in making the video. A couple of times, GSGT Holt got a little angry with us for some lax marching and rifle drill. He would not accept anything less than perfection, even from Candy-O’s trying to film a video.
August 31st, 2009 at 9:18 pm
Maybe we can get an AOCS class roster going over at airwarriors.com. Way too many fine memories in such a short period of bandwidth here. Does anyone know where GYSGT Washington or GYSGT Crenshaw are?
Candidate Beaver: “Please Mr. Squirrel- will you please bring down this candidates chrome dome (from up in the tree)?”- infamous AI type AOC from Class 21-84.
Was in Class 21-84 for most of the time- 22-84 for graduation.
If anyone knows where the above DI’s are please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.