In addition to earning a bachelor of science degree in physics at Centre College’s Commencement on May 22 , John Coogan ’16 was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
“John is very talented,” says USMC Capt. Jacob Pagragan, Centre’s ROTC officer selection officer for the Marines. “He managed two sports on campus and carried a demanding academic course load, in addition to participating in our highly competitive summer training program. All the while, he remained humble and an excellent representative of our program and a future leader of Marines.”
The Platoon Leader’s Course (PLC), the program Coogan participated in, is unique. It is summers-only training in Quantico, Va., that, for Coogan, was broken up in to two six-week training sessions. The USMC takes this time to train, screen, and evaluate prospective officers for leadership potential, physical fitness and academic ability. Students use this time to decide if a life of service and leadership is what they truly want after graduating from college.
“While he was enrolled at Centre, Coogan’s only requirements were to stay in school full-time, stay physically fit and stay out of trouble,” Pagragan continues. “He was not required to take additional classes, wear a uniform on campus or any of the other things normally associated with ROTC. The trade-off is the summers he spent in Quantico, which are the most demanding that a student can undergo. The attrition rate is 30-35 percent, and because students do not have any obligation to serve upon completion, students have to truly want to be there.
“My job is to find folks like John and others from 27 other colleges and universities and train and mentor them before they start their college career,” Pagragan says. “A student applies, gets interviewed and, if selected, trains with us with the hope that upon graduation we will offer them a career. Students aren’t bound to the Marine Corps just because they put in a summer or two worth of work with us. They are free to explore other options, study abroad and take other careers upon graduating.”
After commencement, Coogan heads to Quantico for additional leadership training. He will be put through high-level coursework ranging from weapons and tactics, Marine Corps war-fighting principles, ethical and moral decision-making, as well as a number of other training requirements. The six-month course is designed to get him ready for the next step of leading Marines. From Quantico, he will be assigned a job — or military occupational specialty — then trained in that area and finally put in charge of 30 to 60 Marines on active duty.
by Cindy Long
May 25, 2016
Above: Coogan’s parents, Philip and Alice Coogan, pin his 2nd Lieutenant Rank onto his uniform.