There are several ways a person can become an officer in the United States Army. Those are:
A battlefield commission which has not been used since Vietnam.
Graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Transfer from a different military branch.
Graduating from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York.
A direct commission. This is normally reserved for lawyers, medical professionals and chaplains.
Completing ROTC at many of the universities across the country.
Or the one we are taking a brief look at in today’s post: graduating from Officer Candidate School.
In this post, I am going to provide whom I consider to be the top 10 famous Army OCS graduates of all time.
The first Officer Candidate School began creating Army Officers in the early 1940s. Do keep in mind that certain States have OCS programs for National Guard officers that coincides with the federal OCS system. The federal OCS is located at Fort Benning, Georgia and candidates are accepted from many forms.
College graduates who enlist with an OCS option. They must first complete Basic Combat Training and then are sent to OCS.
Former enlisted soldiers.
Transfers from other military branches.
Scroll down and see my view of the top 10 OCS graduates.
10: Brigadier General Belinda Pinckney
Brigadier General Belinda Pinckney who is now retired, joined the Army in 1976 as a finance specialist. In 1978 after serving in the 105th Finance section, and holding many responsibilities, she was chosen for OCS. She was commissioned as a finance officer in 1979.
Pinckney held many command and staff positions as an officer, and in 2007, The Army Chief of Staff appointed this amazing woman as the Director of the Army Diversity Task Force. As both an African American, and a woman, Pinckney helped create a more diverse and accepting Army.
Pinckney was given a variety of awards including the:
Defense Superior Service Medal
3 Legion of Merit Medals
6 Meritorious Service Medals
4 Army Commendation Medals
2 Army Achievement Medals
just to name a few.
9: Lieutenant General Davis Weisman
Lieutenant General Weisman who retired in 2001, has an interesting Army history. He enlisted in the Army after graduating from High School and as a private in the infantry, Weisman showed strong leadership skills. He was selected to attend OCS in 1967 and was commissioned in November of that year as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Lieutenant General Weisman participated in 4 combat tours. 3 of those tours were in Vietnam and 1 in Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield in which he commanded 3rd Brigade, 2nd Armored Division.
This leader held many important positions in the Pentagon and he was a key figure in Base Realignments and Closures.
8: Major Richard “Dick” Winters
Have you ever watched the HBO series, Band of Brothers? The show portrayed Winters by actor Damien Lewis.
Winters enlisted in the Army in 1941 to keep from being drafted. After Basic Training, he showed a great ability in training others, so he was selected to enter OCS in 1942. During OCS, Winters decided he wanted to enter parachute training, which he did.
Winters ended up in charge of Easy Company and gained high recognition as a fearless Officer during World War II. Awards he accumulated consisted of the:
Distinguished Service Cross
2 Bronze Stars
If you have not watched Band of Brothers, I highly recommend it.
7: Major General Michael Healy
With one tour in Korea and five tours in Vietnam, this Major General who graduated from OCS absolutely deserves to be on this list.
In 1945, Healy enlisted in the U.S. Army and one year later he graduated from OCS. From there he went on to Jump school and in 1951 he was Company Commander of the 4th Airborne Ranger Company in Korea.
Major General Healy was a true Army leader by showing his troops that he was willing, and they followed him. His awards consist of:
3 Distinguished Service Medals
3 Legions of Merit
the Distinguished Flying Cross
6 Bronze Stars
4 Air Medals
2 Purple Hearts
and many more.
6: Winthrop Rockefeller
This previous Governor of Arkansas was also a graduate of OCS. In 1941 he enlisted in the Army and starting as a Private, he rose to Colonel before entering politics in the civilian world.
While fighting in World War II, Rockefeller earned:
A bronze star
5: General John Shalikashvili
This man was born in Poland and his family immigrated to the U.S. In 1958, Shalikashvili was drafted into the Army and upon completing Basic Training, he entered OCS. He served in Vietnam in various commands, but what the General is most recognized for is being the first foreign born person to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Shalikashvili has earned a vast amount of awards including:
4 Defense Distinguished Service Medals
The Army Defense Distinguished Service Medal
3 Legions of Merit
A Bronze Star with V device
and many more.
4:William Buckley Jr
This well-known author and political activist is also a graduate of OCS. Buckley was home-schooled and then attended UNAM. He then enlisted in the Army and graduated from OCS in 1944. One of the highlights of Buckley’s short time as an Officer in the United States Army was being a member of the Honor Guard when President Franklin Roosevelt passed away.
Buckley went on to work for the CIA and then became quite the figure for political debates and stances.
3: Robert Dole
This famous politician was a Senator for years from Kansas, and he also ran for President in 1996 against Bill Clinton.
In 1942, Dole enlisted in the Army Reserve and attended OCS. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. In 1945, Dole was wounded seriously by enemy troops in Italy. Most thought he would die, but he proved them wrong.
Dole received a Bronze Star and 2 Purple Hearts and went on to become a major figure in United States politics.
2: General Tommy Franks
This General was a major player in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, and also attacks against the Taliban in Afghanistan. His last position was Commander of the United States Central Command.
Franks enlisted in the Army in 1965 and completed Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He attended OCS at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1967 and from there his leadership skills grew. He had many commands and earned a plethora of awards including:
The Defense Distinguished Service Medal
The Army Distinguished Service Medal
4 Legions of Merit
5 Bronze Stars
3 Purple Hearts
and a variety of others.
I have always admired General Franks and his position as #2 is highly deserved.
1: Caspar Weinberger
This former Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan was also a graduate of OCS. He entered the Army in 1941 and attended OCS where he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He served with the 41st Infantry Division during the War, and became a Captain for General Douglas MacArthur’s intelligence staff after World War II.
This is what President George W. Bush stated when Cap died:
“Caspar Weinberger was an American statesman and a dedicated public servant. He wore the uniform in World War II, held elected office, and served in the cabinets of three Presidents. As Secretary of Defense for President Reagan, he worked to strengthen our military and win the Cold War. In all his years, this good man made many contributions to our Nation. America is grateful for Caspar Weinberger’s lifetime of service. Laura and I send our condolences and prayers to the entire Weinberger family.”
What are your thoughts about the top 10 list of graduates of Officer Candidate School?
We would like to hear from anyone reading this who has attended, or is planning on attending.
OCS is a great way to enliven your military career. If you have any questions about attending this school in Fort Benning, please ask and we will do our best to provide answers. Thank you and have a great day.