Enlisted Opinions of SAs and SMCs


Jan 29, 2019
What is the general opinion of graduates of the service academies and the various SMCs?
Are you asking for an enlisted member’s opinion of SA and SMC graduates?
That's a loaded question. All junior officers (coming out of the Academies) should already know that NCOs run the (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force) and that they (the J.O.s) are there to learn from them and their experience, while simultaneously offering leadership and guidance.

With that said, certain people become officers and think that they should already have been there and done that, and try their best to fake that they have, when they haven't. Those types can come from any accession source (Academy, ROTC, OCS) and are generally made to get their minds right, pretty quick.

What you're asking is the USMC equivalent of; "what does the Lance Corporal Underground say about Officers?". What you're going to hear is 100 different anecdotal "evidence" stories that officers from "x academy" are either great or crappy. Nothing in between. :biggrin:
What you're asking is the USMC equivalent of; "what does the Lance Corporal Underground say about Officers?". What you're going to hear is 100 different anecdotal "evidence" stories that officers from "x academy" are either great or crappy. Nothing in between.

My guess is the underground response would be that they are 100% crappy.
Enlisted opinions of SA and SMC graduates really means; what does the enlisted member think of officers. But not quite. Lots of officers graduate from State U. My son graduated from a mid-ranked state university but majored in badassery. I assure you nobody cares or asks him about his academic pedigree.

Now to the real question. The opinion of officers by enlisted evolves over time and space. I was a deck seaman on a destroyer before going to HM A school. I never saw my DivO much. Didn’t see the Chief much. I remember the first lieutenant on my first ship. LTJG Krueger was his name. Seemed like a nice guy.

My relationship with officers changed when I went to sea or with the Marines after I became a Corpsman. HMs are involved in all aspects of a ship’s operation so I got to know everybody on a personal basis and not only observed, but had to deal with the professional competency of officers or their lack there of. I was never one to be of the opinion that officers suck no matter what and truthfully, most personnel don’t believe that either.

The best CO I ever had was CDR James Francis Shanahan III. He was a State U. grad, an officer who cared about the crew, smart, funny, and ran a trained and ready ship. He retired as a captain. We did a change of command in the IO during our 110 days at sea period. His relief was an academy grad, Rhodes scholar, White House Fellow, and Russian expert. He was aloof and kind of impersonal. He went on to command the Pacific. After retiring as a four star he became President Obama’s first Director of National Security. Two officers from different academic backgrounds with different opinions held by the enlisted crew.

Being an Independent Duty Corpsman aboard ship and with the Marines I know first hand how hard officers work and the responsibilities placed upon them. I was in the same situation because I had nobody over me. My direct report was the CO and XO.

It actually doesn’t matter what the enlisted think about officers. The ability to lead a division, a platoon, or a section in a finance office to task accomplishment is what matters. That can be achieved by being professionally competent, tactically sound, and physically fit. Lead from the front. Don’t demand respect but earn respect.

Here’s a quick story about an officer and the opinion his enlisted people had of him. I went to Camp Pendleton last summer to help my son move to 29 Palms. He had just turned over command of Mobility Assault Company and his senior Staff NCOs and platoon commanders threw him a going away party. I heard several stories about how he worked late seven days a week to fix a broken unit. He went out on a limb to help good Marines he wanted to rehab and not get lost in legal issues. He brought material readiness up to a deployable level. He’s a PT stud and got the company in fighting shape with the demand, not goal, that nobody will fall out of a battalion run or hike. It wasn’t easy for them. He’s a hard man with a mean streak. He always blames that on me. But they followed him because he led from the front and never required of others what he himself would not do. The best thing about my son I heard at that party came from his 1stSgt who was featured in a video describing his experience in boot camp during 9/11 and its aftermath. This 1stSgt was a war hero from the second Battle of Fallujah. He told me my son was the best officer he had ever served with including those in Iraq. This from a war dog who didn’t give a flip about where his CO went to school but cared about how he took care of the Marines and the mission.
Edit to my above post: My former CO was Director of National Intelligence (DNI) not Security.
@Devil Doc - sounds like you have an amazing son. Well done!
Thanks, he’s a good man and has developed into an outstanding Marine officer. He’s tough as nails but with a big heart and is still a mama’s boy. I wasn’t a member here when he was in high school to brag about his 4.6 GPA, 16 extracurriculars, and Eagle Scout achievement and to ask “chance my son.” Truth be told, he had none of that. He was a B student who was a really good football and baseball player but not good enough for Paul Johnson’s team.

I know I trend toward verbosity (ya think) but my intent is to bring a view from a different route to commission. Also as a retired senior enlisted with four ships, three times with the Marines, two headquarters commands, and instructor duty in 26 years, I hope I bring a little insight to life in the real Navy and Marine Corps. If it seems I have a sea story for everything, I’m from the Chiefs Mess, that’s what we do.
This enlisted Marine told his WP graduate son just to make sure he had WP stickers all over his $60k truck when he first reported for duty and to make sure everyone knew where he had gone to school...
In true son fashion he took the low key approach and followed my other (serious) advice to let his work win over his direct reports and that if he won over his NCOs, it's a different world. He's been told many times that people are surprised when they find out his alma mater.
IMHO, it's just like the corporate world, in that you're gonna have great leaders who happen to have gone to certain schools; but their individual approach is what sets them apart. It's not really fair to say all academy grads are a certain way. I had superiors from Annapolis who were absolute ass kickers and we would have run through walls for them. Had some from Podunk State U who were the same.