MARSOC graduates first class

After 634 classroom hours, 1,365 hours in the field, 114 miles hiked or patrolled, 140 hours of physical training and more, the first class of Marine Special Operations Individual Training Course students graduated with an average grade point average of 91.9.

“You are the future of MarSOC,” Maj. Gen. Mastin Robeson, commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command told the 50 graduates Wednesday.

“You are a new breed. You are special. You are the first to earn the right to bear the title Marine special operator,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”


The course is designed to be an entry point for MARSOC Marines once they have gone through the selection process.

Capt. Richard Wilson, one of the first graduates, said that no matter where the Marines will end up in MARSOC, “we all start here.”

“The biggest thing it gives us in a common culture,” he said.

MARSOC celebrated its third birthday last month, and the individual training course is the culmination of more than two years of effort to create a common pipeline for Marine special operators.

“This is a day that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” said Col. Joseph Marello, commander of Marine Special Operations School.

The course “not only develops tangible special operations skills, but also seeks to develop the mindset, character of a special operator,” he said.

The six-month course pushes Marines to their physical limits, he said.

It also is difficult for the families, Robeson said.

“This has not been a short course,” he said. “This has been a royal pain in the neck.”

Sgt. Scott Koppenhafer, the class honor graduate, said he was relieved to be graduating.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s been a journey.”

Wilson agreed.

“It’s been a long road, but it’s definitely a big honor to be part of the first class,” he said.

During the ceremony, the Marines also honored Staff Sgt. Jason Johnson, who served as instructor at the school and died in a car wreck last weekend. Johnson was 31.

by Jennifer Hlad,

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