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Some USMC NFO Questions- Advice Appreciated

#1
I've been lurking on this forum pretty heavily for the past month or so and I was wondering if I could get some input from some of the more experienced posters.

Some Background:
I'm a soon to be 1/C at the Naval Academy and am rapidly approaching the time when I need to put in my preferences for service assignment. I had LASIK last October, and at my 6 month check up the eye doctor told me that they didn't manage to fully correct all of the astigmatism (or the nearsightedness, but that's less of an issue) in my right eye. He said that I was technically within standards for Pilot but that I was so close with my astigmatism in my right eye that there would basically be a 50/50 shot of me getting DQ'd down in Pensacola at my flight school. He recommended that I have a second surgery on my right eye but due to my summer training schedule I'm not sure if I'll be able to have the procedure done before Sept 1 (the cutoff date for to be commissionable ). With this in mind, I've been heavily considering both USMC and USN NFO.

The Question (read here if nothing else):
They are still commissioning a handful of USMC NFOs from the Academy every year, and will still have a few spots for my class (2018). If it takes ~3 years to get through TBS and Flight School, that would mean that if I went this route I would hit the fleet around 2021 or 2022. Assuming my squadron tour is around 4 years, that would put me heading to my B-billet in 2025/26. I know from skimming the USMC Aviation plan from 2015 that the last active duty F/A-18D squadron will convert to the F-35B in 2029. So does this mean if I went USMC NFO that I'd only get one operational tour in the cockpit? Would they even send me to a shore tour if the platform is that close to retirement?

I'm really interested in being a WSO after reading up on what they do, and I'd really like to be a Marine Officer, but I'm sort of unsure what to expect for my career (at least to MSR). I understand that the community is going away soon, and I don't necessarily mind getting out or transitioning to a new MOS like UAVs or whatever it would be. I just want to be able to actually contribute for the years that I am an NFO. I have read much on this forum about the poor health of the USMC jet fleet, and that coupled with uncertainty over joining a community near the end of its life has given me pause about taking what would otherwise be an incredible opportunity.

Thank you for your time.
 

RUFiO181

Making Recruiting Great Again
#2
Is there not a USMC NFO or even Aviator at USNA who can get you a POC? That would be my first attempt at asking if no one answers here.
 
#4
Is there not a USMC NFO or even Aviator at USNA who can get you a POC? That would be my first attempt at asking if no one answers here.
There are two USMC NFOs at USNA that I am aware of, a Lieutenant Colonel and a Colonel, who happens to be the Senior Marine. Given their rank I was told to ask up the chain before talking to them vice walking into their office directly/sending an email. When finals are over after this week I will try to start this process. I figured that it wouldn't hurt ask on this forum too.

If you're only PQ for NFO, then you shouldn't be a Marine.
Well, technically I am PQ for pilot. The doctor said that he would give me a waiver for pilot but that I stood a really good chance of getting NPQ for pilot since I am so close to the cutoff for astigmatism. I think I measured out at exactly -1.00 diopeters, and the regs say "not to exceed" -1.00 diopeters, but he said that my eyes could still change in the next year. He was convinced that I should try to get a LASIK touch up, but as I said earlier, that might not be possible. The doctor didn't say how likely I was to fail the physical but was very adamant that I consider getting another surgery, so I'm assuming the odds are not in my favor.

Whether or not I get the surgery/end up being qualified for pilot, I am honesty still curious about the FO community in the Marine Corps, and figured here would be a good place to look for answers.
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
#5
First question - if you get NPQed out of the cockpit, would you rather do something else in the Navy, or something else in the Marines?

Second - if you're otherwise within limits for pilot, then put Navy/MC Pilot first and FO second. Worst case, you get the Whammy at P'cola and you can request to redesignate as a SNFO. Worse worst case, they don't let you go FO. In which case: see Question 1 above.
 

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
#6
There are two USMC NFOs at USNA that I am aware of, a Lieutenant Colonel and a Colonel, who happens to be the Senior Marine. Given their rank I was told to ask up the chain before talking to them vice walking into their office directly/sending an email. When finals are over after this week I will try to start this process. I figured that it wouldn't hurt ask on this forum too.



Well, technically I am PQ for pilot. The doctor said that he would give me a waiver for pilot but that I stood a really good chance of getting NPQ for pilot since I am so close to the cutoff for astigmatism. I think I measured out at exactly -1.00 diopeters, and the regs say "not to exceed" -1.00 diopeters, but he said that my eyes could still change in the next year. He was convinced that I should try to get a LASIK touch up, but as I said earlier, that might not be possible. The doctor didn't say how likely I was to fail the physical but was very adamant that I consider getting another surgery, so I'm assuming the odds are not in my favor.

Whether or not I get the surgery/end up being qualified for pilot, I am honesty still curious about the FO community in the Marine Corps, and figured here would be a good place to look for answers.
Got it, my advice remains - do not enter a Marine NFO pipeline.
 

RHINOWSO

"Yeah, we are going to need to see that one again"
None
#7
When I was considering being a Jarhead Aviator, someone asked me the question "Are you ready to be a Jarhead first and aviator second?".

And knowing how the USMC D-models do things, plus how old and broke ass those aircraft are NOW, much less in 5 years, there is no way I could suggest someone attempt that carrer path. And yes, when they're finally retired, you'll be the guy standing without a chair when the music stops.

If you are set on being an NFO (or have a high probability of that being your only avenue into a cockpit), your goal should be flying in a Rhino or a Growler (or whatever they call that thing these days) in the Navy.
 
#9
I appreciate the input from you all. It's clear USMC NFO would not be a particularly wise career move. Looks like I'll be deciding between Marine Ground and Navy Air.
 

Swanee

Self aware since 2014
pilot
Contributor
#10
I appreciate the input from you all. It's clear USMC NFO would not be a particularly wise career move. Looks like I'll be deciding between Marine Ground and Navy Air.

Two vastly different career options. Marine ground is a crap shot. You could be an infantry guy, or a supply guy, or an adj, or any other ground billet. Some have career potential and others don't.

Or you fly get the chance to fly something.

I know grunts who regret not trying their hand at flight school or regret dropping their air contract for to go ground. I don't know a single aviator who said, "Man, I'd rather be a grunt right now".
 

Hotdogs

Leeroy Jenkins
pilot
#11
"Man, I'd rather be a grunt right now".
There's trade offs. There were times when I wished didn't have to worry about hours of studying, planning, ground job stuff, collaterals and standard squadron stuff vice dealing with a company or platoon of Marines with a multitude of SNCOs and NCOs to help.

I don't think most aviators would want to be a grunt, but there have times I've thought "dude, I wish I was that intel-o right now, he doesn't do shit comparatively, and gets paid relatively the same as me." Just based off of pure day to day workload. There have been times when I question if the 2.0 of time in the cockpit has been worth the QOL sacrifice involved in getting there. If it were so great, pilots would not be running to flight school, reserves, and/or exiting the service at the cyclic rate.
 

Swanee

Self aware since 2014
pilot
Contributor
#12
Yeah I get that. And my buddies who jumped to stuff like finance are really happy. But I'd take a cockpit over a platoon or company of infantry types. FWIW there are plenty of ground guys who are jumping ship just as fast. The only difference is that it's easier to replace a ground guy.
 

RHINOWSO

"Yeah, we are going to need to see that one again"
None
#13
How do D-models do stuff differently? Genuinely wondering.
The Ds are a lot older and not remotely as well integrated cockpits as newer Rhinos. Not to mention you take an already endurance limited airframe (legacy Hornet) and take away 1,000lbs of gas. At least in the Rhino it has better endurance and monster tanks to make up for it.

Between Marine Grunt and Navy Air, the main question is do you want to (1) fly or (2) sleep on the ground and eat last?