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Does anyone remember the POU platoon located in the 2nd Battalion???

I was a young man from the eastern shore of Maryland. My buddy and I always wanted to be Marines. On 28 June 1962 we signed up on the 120 day plan. I was 17 at the time and had never done much but play around. We left for P I on 25 Sept ’62 and arrived in Yesmassee SC at night. All of us know what happens from that point. I was a scared kid but wanted to be a Marine so I could do anything. On 26 Sept. we were picked up by our D I”s and headed to Plt 375. On 31 Oct ’62 my DI put me in his car and took me to the POU unit located in the 2nd Battalion. I wasn’t sure what was happening and he said i wasn’t keeping up with the standards that was expected.

I wasn’t in very good shape and couldn’t keep up with a lot of the PT etc. While in POU everyday doctors would talk to us and asked if we wanted to get out. That was the last thing i wanted. on 6 Nov 62 I was set back to Plt 379. From that point forward I was a different Marine. I became the DI’s “house mouse” and did everything and more that was expected of me. Upon graduation on 9 Jan’63 my DI said he had put me in to become a Marine guard at NSA at Fort Meade.In those days no one even knew what NSA was. After 14 months in C L N C and making a Med cruise I was cleared and sent to Ft. Meade Mare Guard Att.I was there for 30 months and got out a Oct.1966. One of the proudest things i ever did was to become a U.S. Marine especially the way I had to do it. Semper Fi always.

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Bill Collins - June 23, 2021

I was at Parris Island from 5 March 1957 until 30 May 1957. I was in PLT. 69, D Company, 3rd Battalion. At that time there were three special platoons. One for overweight recruits. The platoon guidon flag for the “fat boys” platoon had an elephant on it. Next there was the conditioning platoon for those who could not pass the strength test and third was the Phycological Observation Unit (POU) for those who could not take the mental stress. For a short time my platoon stood firewatch for the POU platoon. I remember hearing a lot of sobbing during my firewatch rounds. Members of the POU platoon were required to stay on the Island for 30 days before being sent home with freshly shaved heads and weird looking cloths. We were marched over to where they were boarding buses and made to watch them leave. After seeing those pitiful looking people, each of us silently vowed that we would leave the Island feet first before being sent home in that condition. If the intent was to keep people out of the POU it worked.

JACK D HANSON - April 6, 2020

In reply to Bill Jackson.
Right on Bill, just as you described I was in the fat farm in 66 spent 30 days there and was sent back to another platoon. However I did graduate boot camp but I could never climb the knotted rope. In 70 I finally masted the slick rope and was I proud. thanks for the memory lane

Bruce Hoovis - April 6, 2020

I was in the 2nd Battalion P I in the fall of 1960. POU was the Psychiatric Observation Unit. In essence it was for those who had difficulty coping with the mental stresses of boot camp. Or just flat out out had mental breakdowns. I do not remember it it being a motivational unit. It was literally a Cuckoo’s Nest. They did have motivational units and strength building units. We had one recruit in our platoon ended up in POU and assuredly he had some serious issues. POU was the exit door from the Corps for those who had serious mental issues.

JACK D HANSON - April 6, 2020

In reply to Bill Jackson.
Right on Bill, just as you described I was in the fat farm in 66 spent 30 days there and was sent back to another platoon. However I did graduate boot camp but I could never climb the slick rope . In 70 I finally masted the slick rope and was I proud. thanks for the memory lane

Bulldogman - April 6, 2020

What I was told while at PI in the summer of ’62 was that if you were sent to POU and you weren’t crazy, you sure would be before you got out.

John A Van Buskirk - April 6, 2020

In reply to Bruce Hoovis.
March 1964 I was sent to STB 0n Parris Island (Special Training Branch) and there was four platoons ( Motivation,Corrective Custody, Stabilization and Proficiency. I was Stabilization). Stabilization was fat ones and weak ones (AKA Elephant Brigade) . I can still hear the DI at the chow hall, “Line up, fat ones in front, weak ones in the rear. It was truly a barrel of laughs. BTW General Walts son was in my platoon there.

Court Conkwright. E-5 - April 6, 2020

I was at P.I. Jun 15, 1962 in L Company Plt 238. Along with 236-237-239 from 2nd BN. We all knew about POU and the Fat Mans Plt. You just didn’t want to be there. These guys got there butts worked off. We had Marines go there and were replaced by Marines coming out of POU as pickups as we called them to our 238. They all did very well after coming out of that hell hole. We started with about 75 men and only had about 40 original Marines left from our first day at the Island Our barracks was catty corner from the 2nd BN mess hall right on the corner. When we ran to the PT course we would see Marines from POU carrying buckets of sand running around in circles. Not the place I wanted to go. L Company outpost on Sept 13, 1962 an I was glad to head for ICT at Camp Gieger. I was a 0311 and loved it. We were at Gieger when the Cuban missle crisis took place in Oct. They packed the 2nd Marine Div in one day and they were gone to Cuban. All Marines were issued brand new M 14’s and 782 gear from the large warehouses plus of course other new weapons like the M 60. We were still in ACT training and not finished yet. I was a PFC off the island and since they took most all our troop handlers, I was appointed acting Gunny Sgt and handled our company until they return for Cuban. One of the Marines I knew told we later that one Marine going got his M 14 without a magazine and complained about it and was told by a issuing Sgt not to worry because it because there would be many laying on the beach after the landing. What a thing to say to someone going into combat. Anyway all ended well. Let me hear from anyone that may have been in the 2nd BN L Company. I have found 152 Marines from that Company. We had Sgt F M Spady Sgt A E Mattox and Sgt J J Quaglia. Spady and Quaglia from passed away, I found this out from there families. One of you may have had them after we left or before we got to P.I. I stay in touch with Retired Major Mattox, came out of Nam as a officer. Good for him. He was the best! My email is

Stan - April 6, 2020

I was at MCRDSD Aug-Dec 1972. Started with Plt 3099 but at about T-4 or 5 My self and 2 others were sent to PCP (Physical Conditioning Platoon) because we couldn’t do more than one pull up. Very close to PCP was Motivation Plt. We could here them sreaming at the top of there lungs all day long. Also close by was CCP (Correctional Custody) Plt. When they weren’t doing manual labor around the base they were locked up, and at night PCP stood guard duty. I was on guard one night and saw 2 members of my original plt in there. 72 of us were formed into Plt 1120 and started regular training. During the week or two that the other platoons were doing mess and maintenance we spent doing PT and running. at the end we received certificates for the 1,000 mile club, never running less than 3 miles at a time. We were also top platoon in our series on the drill field.

Martin “Big John” Johnson - April 6, 2020

I went through boot camp at MCRD in August-November, 1960, Plt. 281, and as I recall those that did not meet minimum fitness/weight standards went to what was called STU (Special Training Unit) – they went through Hell!

MSG (R) Dave Popper - April 6, 2020

I remember POU was the way out of the Corps. One day our Plt 171, 1957 was marching passed the bus station, a group of POUs where wait to board the bus and go home. The DI stopped the platoon and told us we could also leave the island like the POUs or leave as Marines. They were dressed in all kinds of weird clothing. I was also put on a diet, but not sent to the fat boys platoon. After 2 weeks I lost over 20 lbs, but stayed on the diet for a few more weeks’ the DI said it was good for me. I went from a 36 inch waist to 32 inch., 6’2″ tall, 190lbs. My mother & father came to graduation, when my mother saw me she cried and asked what did they do to her baby (I was the youngest of 4) . I put my chest out and said they made me a Marine. Semper Fi!!

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