JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — One of three newly minted second lieutenants in the Alaska Army National Guard took a road less traveled in order to follow in her father’s footsteps to become a military officer.
2nd Lt. Marisa Lindsay joined the U.S. Air Force in 1998 and served on active duty for eight years. Seven years after leaving the Air Force, she joined the Alaska Army National Guard—to serve her state and nation, but also in part due to the camaraderie she missed. This time, she decided, she would become a Soldier so that she could be part of the U.S. Army, joining her husband who was active duty Special Forces.
“I missed wearing the uniform and being part of something more—a service that I am honored to be part of,” she said. “The National Guard offers so many opportunities to grow as a person, a professional and as a leader, while being part of a team.”
Lindsay served full-time as a National Guard enlisted Soldier until she left for Officer Candidate School at Fort McClellan, Alabama earlier this year.
Far from average, Lindsay seeks ways to excel in everything she does. She completed OCS as an honor graduate and earned the highest physical training score out of 57 officer candidates in her class.
The fitness test measures the number of push-ups and sit-ups each Soldier is able to do in two minutes, followed by a two-mile timed run. When a Soldier scores above the graded scale of 300, they are graded on an extended scale, for which Lindsay earned 352 points. She credits this achievement to her physical training prior to OCS.[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]An avid CrossFit athlete and certified coach, Lindsay mixed up her routine for six weeks leading up to OCS.
“Instead of straight-up CrossFit, I focused on body weight, high intensity interval training, sprint workouts and distance runs,” said Lindsay. “Once a week, on Mondays, the other officer candidates and I would also get together at 907 CrossFit on Camp Carroll for a CrossFit workout. It helped to bring us together as a team and build esprit de corps.”
Lindsay started preparing for OCS by attending a four-month long pre-OCS program through the 207th Multi-Functional Training Regiment on JBER. The training covered topics such as troop leading procedures, land navigation, operation orders delivery, drill and ceremony, and physical training.
“Pre-OCS is not required to attend OCS,” said Maj. Barbara Coe, the senior tactical officer and commander of the pre-OCS program with the 207th MFTR. “It is highly recommended that a prospective officer does, in order to refine the skills needed to pass OCS.”
All three new second lieutenants from Alaska participated in pre-OCS. Lindsay said it was worthwhile and beneficial for a variety of reasons, perhaps most importantly because of the camaraderie established at home that made all the difference once they were away at training.
“The Alaska National Guard, by far, had the tightest team of officer candidates,” said Lindsay. “The other officer candidates and our training officers often made comments about how tight-knit we were. In the end, being with such a supportive crew, I believe, gave us the confidence that we needed in order to perform at our absolute best while absorbing everything that we could out of the program.”
The day that Lindsay was pinned with her new rank—a single gold bar for which new officers are sometimes coined “butter bar,”—was the last day her husband will wear his uniform before hanging it up and retiring after 20 years and eight deployments, serving as an active duty Army Green Beret.
“I feel like he passed the baton,” said Lindsay. “He gave me my first salute as an officer while rendering his last salute at the same time … it felt pretty surreal.”
Lindsay and her peers are each awaiting dates to attend their career field course. Basic Officer Leader Course lasts four to six months, depending on the career branch they are preparing for.
The accelerated OCS program has provided opportunity for many National Guard enlisted Soldiers to earn their commission, and Lindsay shared that she was grateful to be accepted into the program.
“I know that my dad was proud of me before, but it felt so great to finally achieve my dream of becoming an officer like he was,” she said.
Alaska Army National Guard Soldiers interested in completing an application to be selected for the OCS program may receive more information by contacting the local officer recruiter at 907-428-6842. [xyz-ihs snippet=”Adsense-responsive”]