SAN MARCOS — For many, it’s not much fun to wake up at 5 a.m. every day and workout for two hours before a full day of drills and classes designed to test an individual’s physical, mental and emotional limits for 13 consecutive weeks.
But for 26-year-old Cory Andrew Devlin of San Diego, this is what it’s going to take to become a surface warfare officer for the U.S. Navy. And on March 11, Devlin will realize his dream and officially graduate from Officer Candidate School, or OCS, at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island to become a commissioned ensign and join the ranks of Navy leadership.
“I’ve always wanted to contribute to something bigger than myself,” said Devlin. “I’m excited about March 11, it means that all of my hard work and struggle has paid off, and I can go into the fleet and lead and assist in what the Navy needs me to be.”
Born and raised in San Diego, Devlin comes from an extensive military lineage. Both of his grandfathers served in the Navy, as did Devlin’s father Shawn, who served for 30 years with five overseas deployments, including a tour in Iraq during the Gulf War in the 1990s.
The family’s strong tradition of public service, particularly in the Navy, is what propelled Devlin straight into OCS training upon graduating college at Cal State San Marcos, or CSUSM.
“From a young age, coming from a military family, I had the drive instilled in me to serve my community, my country…ultimately I decided to carry on the tradition of serving in the Navy,” Devlin said. “I knew that the military would give me a good foundation for my future and give me the structure I needed to go off on in any future endeavors of my life.”
After living in San Diego as a child with his parents at various military bases, Devlin ended up moving to Hemet for several years where he attended West Valley High School, playing football and baseball competitively.
After high school, Devlin studied criminology at CSUSM for four years, with the hope of landing a career in law enforcement after finishing his military tenure.
Since starting OCS last year, Devlin said the lessons he’s learned about the world and about himself have made him stronger physically, mentally and emotionally, and he’s been able to forge strong friendships with his fellow candidates going through the same training process.
“When you first get here, everyone’s a little wide-eyed and not knowing what’s going on in the trenches…then you go through militarization, you go through PT (physical training) and the different aspects of training, and it builds comradery, just going through those same experiences with each other,” Devlin said. “It’s ultimately so rewarding though — learning the comradery, the friendships I’ve made, and becoming so confident in your decision making…it really prepares you to become a naval officer and go out into the fleet and be able to make those decisions successfully.”
OCS is undeniably grueling. Every morning, Devlin is greeted with a physical test that pushes candidates to their limits, including long sustenance runs, core workouts, upper body programs and other similarly intense exercise regimens.
“The most challenging part is the mental aspect, just pushing through the weariness, the tiredness, pushing past what you think your body can take and overcoming those obstacles that you didn’t think you could,” Devlin said.
But even to his own surprise, Devlin said he’s grown to be fond of the structure and ritual that makes up OCS training on a regular basis.
“I didn’t expect that I would enjoy it as much as I did…it’s difficult but I would say that in overcoming those challenges and obstacles, that makes it so rewarding and makes you realize why you’re doing this in the first place,” Devlin said.
Shawn said he couldn’t be more proud of his son as he approaches his OCS graduation. From the time he was a boy, Shawn said Devlin was both adventurous and altruistic, always looking for a way to help out others and serve the community.
“(Devlin’s) doing something for the greater good — protecting our country while serving in the armed forces, there’s that pride of being able to give back to your nation and go out there,” Shawn said. “I’m very proud of him…he’s always been the kind of person who is looking for the next adventure or next challenge. He’s very kind and friendly, always willing to get involved if you need a hand he’s willing to help, he’s just that type of a person.”
It’s the support of his family back home that’s made the difference and pushed Devlin through the challenges of OCS training, as well as a desire to honor the tradition of Naval service passed down from his grandparents.
“The support from my family has been everything,” Devlin said. “Getting a letter from them brightens my day here, it keeps me moving forward. I know they’re rooting for me back home and that they’re proud of me, that kind of stuff has been in the back of my mind and I don’t want to let them down either as well as myself.”
After his graduation, Devlin will receive his commission to go to San Diego where he will serve on the USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee, a pre-commissioned battleship, where he will train to become a surface warfare officer.