Phoenix Recruiting Battalion
August 17, 2017
PHOENIX - Standing in front of an Officer Candidate Board can be a daunting prospect for any future officer in the U.S. Army.
For OCS applicant Aaron Koehne it was his last obstacle before being accepted into the program and fulfilling his ambition of becoming an officer.
Koehne, 22, who appeared before the OCS board, Aug. 9, at the Phoenix Recruiting Battalion Headquarters, said his desire to become an officer comes from wanting to serve his nation and do his part to defend the country.
"My heart for service is what made me decide to sign up," Koehne said. "The biggest part of my college years was serving in ministries, where we would go to senior living homes, plan events for them and help them with anything they needed."
Koehne said he has always enjoyed serving and being a part of teams, all the way from his childhood in Maywood, Illinois, to his teenage years in Phoenix.
"I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, a little bit of a rougher area, until I was 14 and moved to Phoenix," he explained. "I attended Valley Lutheran High School where my dad took a job as principal. Following that I attended Grand Canyon University."
Koehne excelled at basketball while at university, playing in an intramural all-star team, which made it onto the national stage.
"We got to travel a lot, go to different states, including the national tournament in 2015, where we finished runner-up," Koehne said. "We flew out to Ohio State and played North Carolina A&T. Although we lost it was a great experience."
Koehne majored in accounting at college and once he had completed his degree decided to pursue the military.
"Meeting veterans at university allowed me to network, especially those in veteran's affairs," he said. "The VA coordinator at Grand Canyon came along on a basketball trip to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) as a driver and I got to spend a lot of time talking to him. During that period I was a little unsure of what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to serve."
Realizing what he wanted to pursue, Koehne went to the Glendale Recruiting Center, where he met Staff Sgt. Gamaliel Ortiz, who brought up the option of OCS.
"It was a positive experience. Staff Sergeant Ortiz was the first recruiter I met and he was eager to talk to me," Koehne said. "He had me take a little ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test and I did well enough that OCS became a possibility."
With Ortiz's assistance, Koehne met all necessary requirements to apply for OCS, culminating in his board appearance and looming dates for Basic Combat Training and OCS, which he is eager to begin.
"I'm feeling good and staying humble ... once I receive the board results I'll be excited to get my dates and begin the journey," he said.
Koehne said one of his main goals is to become a better leader, which he knows he will be well trained in at OCS.
"Before the board I had to write a one page letter about why I want to become an officer," Koehne said. "One of the things I wrote was wanting to expand on my leadership and realizing the military is the best way I can do that. I want to be in a position where I can help others succeed."
Ortiz said he has been impressed with Koehne's drive and determination during the application process, and fully expects him to become a success in the Army.
"Aaron was really optimistic when he came in to see us," Ortiz said. "He's very open-minded and wants to do something better for himself."
"He wants to grow as a person and the Army is the best place to do that," Ortiz continued. "The process took a little bit of time, but it was worth it. For Aaron the possibilities are endless."
Koehne said he would like to work in the finance branch, but would happily choose anything.
"Wherever I get placed I'll give it everything I have and try to excel," he said. "I can definitely see myself going through a whole career in the Army."