The mornings start early at Camp Niantic, where 180 candidates from 17 different states are training and hoping to become officers in the National Guard.
Before the sun comes up, they are up doing sit-ups and pull-ups in a program that is 14 months long. The first two weeks are spent completing rigorous tasks at Camp Niantic, and after that, they spend weekends training in their home states.
“They’ve probably been about the most challenging two weeks of my life,” Mykel Kuslis, a candidate from Milford, said.
The training is tough physically and mentally. On some days, candidates spend up to 14 hours in a classroom.
“They cover army history, army training, army leadership, and other things an officer needs to know,” David Lord, a training officer at the Officer Candidate School said.
The learning goes hand in hand with the physical training. During one drill, called lines of knowledge, candidates are asked to answer a question while doing pull-ups. If they get the question wrong, they have to do even more physical training.
And this is only a small part of the officer candidate school. The training includes land navigation, squad and platoon tactics.
It is a journey that is over a year long, and one candidates say is worth it to be able to one day call themselves officers in the National Guard.