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Board Tips

1.     Uniform:

a.      There are two types of Charlie shirts, Creighton and Flying Cross. SgtMaj Garcia recommends that you purchase a Flying Cross Charlie shirt for better fit. Unlike the Creighton the Flying Cross fits better and the pockets are centered on your chest more, whereas the Creighton the pockets tend to be in your arm pits.  Having the sides and sleeves tailored will look that much better, especially if it is a Creighton. 

b.      You will want to get your trousers perfectly tailored to your body waist and length.  When getting your trousers tailored put everything on as if it were game day. This will allow the trousers to be tailored properly.  Ensure that the trousers are long enough in the back to fall 1/4 inch above or below the welt of the shoe. (preferably right on the stitch of the shoe sole) while you pull the waist above the hip bone.  Also, ensure the trousers are not too tight creating what we like to call dumbo pockets. You will also want a slight break on the front of the trousers near the shoe as the trousers lay. Ensure that you put your trousers on a trouser hanger to avoid any creases.

c.      New Stafford white tee shirts are the best. They are very durable. The thick collar is nice and tight and does not get stretched out.

d.      It is advised that you get a new belt fresh out of the box. No scratches, no scuffs, no smudges. While wearing the belt you will want to cut it to where it measures exactly three inches so there is no question if it is to long or to short. If possible wear the belt to where only part of the brass sticks out of the left side of your belt loop. This will help hold that end of the belt, so it will not sag or hang down. Making your appearance that much sharper.

e.      Ensure that your shoes have absolutely no scratches or scuffs. I highly recommend that you purchase specifically honor guard edge dressing and apply enough to make your soles shine from the side and stitching. Make sure you not only hit the edges but also the stitching as well.  Don’t worry about accidentally hitting the shoe as a small mark that low will not be visible from any angle.

2.  Hygiene:

a.      Fresh hair cut. It is recommended that you get a high fade, at the lowest a Medium hair cut. No more then an inch in length. Long low hair is frowned on in the Marine Corps despite how cool it looks.  Keeping in mind that they know you are giving your very best for the Board, so if you are a bare minimum standard Marine for a promotion photo what are you like on a regular basis?  What would you be like with a promotion on independent duty etc.?  An obvious one, ensure you have a real tight shave. Cut your nose and neck hair as well. Remember, the board members have the ability to zoom up on you. Some say they don’t but I know I will if I serve on a board. 

3. Taking the picture

a.      Try on your uniform at home a few days before taking the picture so that you can identify any discrepancies and correct them.

b.      While taking your picture do not smile or attempt to look as hard as wood pecker lips. The Marine Corps is looking to promote killers, people who can get it done and who can lead Marines in Combat and still be approachable.

c.      Carry your uniform in to combat camera and get dressed there. Take another Marine with you that is squared away to look you over and assist. Have them measure your ribbons, your belt length and your trousers before taking your picture.

d.      Ensure you have clean serviceable ribbons the newer the better. If in doubt buy new ones. Make sure you put your ribbons on in the right order if you don’t  know ask someone to help you.  SgtMaj recommends paying someone who will do it perfectly the first time.  Buying thin magnetic ribbons on line always looks great and they place the stars etc. perfectly. There are a few different websites where this can be done, just Google ultra thin ribbons and choose one. has always worked for me and if you ask them to they will make them with a 1/8 in space in between rows causing your stack to look a little bit bigger and more neat.  They are also easy to adjust and they will make you look different from everyone else.

e.      This should go without saying, but make sure you are well within height and weight standards beyond a shadow of a doubt before taking your picture.  If you are close the SgtMaj will personally weigh and tape you himself since his signature is going on the certification.

4. OMPF:

a.      Review your OMPF one more time ensure every good thing that you have done is in there (SOAs NAVMCs, and citations forwards, etc.).

b.      Here are a few examples of things you will want in your OMPF;  any College documents, MCI certificates and any other certificates from other courses that you have completed while in the Marine Corps. MCMAP, MCT, MOS school, any positive official correspondences from seniors (emails telling you good job for something significant etc.), as well as any community recognition.  

c.      Letters of recommendation are great; they will weigh very heavily with the members of the board if you can get one from the right person written well.

d.      Ensure current annual training is up to date in 3270 / MOL. It is your

responsibility. The board will have no way to know that your unit didn’t run it. 

e.      If you have any grey areas write a letter to the board explaining who, what, when, where and why. For example; no deployment because of your MOS, no B-billet because your unit wouldn’t let you go despite your many AA forms/request and duty pref codes on multiple fit reps, unjust adverse fit rep, too many non observed fit reps or no resent annual training do to medical issues.

f.      Ensure you have a photo within six months of the board convene date but not last minute to show early preparation.  

5. Career Counselor:

a.      Call the Career Counselor two years out of the below zone. The Career Counselor is there for us. So even if you are not currently in zone you still need to contact him/her, because it’s too late to call after you have already received several fit-reps in grade or after you have been passed over.  10% of SSgts in 2009 got passed over due to missing fit reps.  SgtMaj is always available to look at your OMPF,  that is why we are issued him.

b.      Ensure that you do not have any date gaps. If so, you need to get those fixed ASAP.  If you wait until the 60 day message to fix it you will be competing with the rest of the Marine Corps that procrastinated.

c.      Call the civilians that work at Quantico and have them review your OMPF with you and correct any discrepancies. They can do fantastic things, from cleaning the lines up on your documents to helping you put your record in chronological order, along with other things that will send a message to the board that you go above and beyond all the time.  Again you will need to call for this.  If you are ever in Quantico for anything stop by and do it personally with them!

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