An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Photo Information

Under the watchful eye of an Officer Candidates School staff member, Officer candidates from Echo Company negotiate The Quigley, one of the obstacles making up the Combat Course, at OCS on June 7, 2013. The Quigley is an obstacle that includes maneuvering cement culverts, logs and barbed wire.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kathryn Bynum

OCS event instilling anxiety since 1967

7 Aug 2013 | Lance Cpl. Samuel Ellis

Snakes slithered around him as he lay silently in the woods waiting for the new company of officer candidates. Having trained aspiring Marines since 1967, he has an infamous reputation among Marine Corps officers.


His name is The Quigley, and that reputation formed in his debris-ridden, foul–smelling waters can instill anxiety over many who step aboard Officer Candidates School, Marine Corps Base Quantico.


OCS instructors introduce candidates to him during the first three weeks of training. Swimming through muddy waters, candidates navigate a series of obstacles, maneuvering under barbed wire, logs and through submerged cement culverts.


 “The Quigley is a base of water, with multiple obstacles, where candidates are forced to face fears and lead their peers through miserable experiences,” said Capt. Chad Matzelle, OCS tactics section officer-in-charge. “The Quigley is one thing candidates will always remember because it’s one of the first times during training where they’re put in unfamiliar situations, while having to lead others.”


Rewind to OCS in 1976. In order to better prepare Marines for combat in Vietnam, the commanding officer of OCS tasked 1st Lt. William Quigley to create a course where “each candidate should look like they tangled with two constipated pit bulls and lost.” In response to the task, Quigley, OCS tactics officer, designed the 50-yard course in the swamp behind OCS.


After enlisting in 1950, Quigley served two combat tours in Korea, returning to combat the second time after being wounded. He also served at several international posts, training troops at Parris Island, S.C., Okinawa, Japan, and in Great Britain where he trained with the Royal Marines.


In 1965, Gunnery Sgt. Quigley deployed to South Vietnam, where he would begin one of three tours and receive a recommendation for a battlefield commission.


Following his commission and development of a successful noncommissioned officer school, 1st Lt. Quigley was relocated to OCS aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, where his past experiences would prove valuable to his development of The Quigley.


Although The Quigley has undergone some changes since its creation, the training module still remains one of the more difficult obstacles on the Combat Course.


“The Quigley is an obstacle of a different sort,” said Col. Harold R. Van Opdorp Jr., OCS commanding officer. “Candidates have to overcome fears of tight spaces while under water. They learn something about themselves during this obstacle. They learn it’s possible to do things they didn’t think they could do.”


The Quigley is only one of over a dozen challenges that comprise the Combat Course, which is a requirement for all candidates to become officers.


“Candidates have to keep their composure,” said Capt. Craig Thomas, OCS protocol officer. “After completing The Quigley, they still have half of the course to finish.”


While the Quigley is designed to instill confidence by bringing future Marine leaders past mental fears, it is also an evaluation tool for OCS instructors.


“Our No. 1 goal at OCS is to evaluate the decision-making ability of our candidates,” said Van Opdorp. “The Quigley assists our staff in evaluating the candidates. As officers sometimes we have to make decisions without a lot of time to think. Sometimes you just have to reach out and do it.”


His waters settle. Quiet once again envelops The Quigley, who remains in the woods waiting to meet the next group of hopeful officers as his reputation lives on.




Marine Corps Base Quantico