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The Motivation Platoon

In 1969 I was living in Minneapolis at the time the first draft lottery cam to be. For those who don’t know about this, it was 365 dates in a large fish bowl. This was news, and was covered by all the television stations at the time. Everyone who was eligible for the draft was watching because if they pulled your birthday you were guaranteed to be drafted and had a direct line to the Army or so I thought. Well I arrived at the induction center several weeks later. After we had been tested for a variety of things we were all gathered in a large room. A representative from the Air Force walked up to a podium in the room and asked for “volunteers” to serve two years in the Air Force since they had not reached their quota for the month. Everyone raised there hand, but only six people were actually chosen.

This same process continued through the Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps. When the Marine approached the podium he asked for three volunteers. No one raised their hand! The Marine asked again with the same response. The Marine then announced that he had other ways to get three volunteers. The Marine went on to remind us of the tests we had been taking for most of the day and said he had decided that the people who scored the highest, middle and lowest overall test scores were his choice. My name was one of the three and I was immediately moved to a Marine Corps van in front of the induction center for a short ride to the airport. I was taken away to the MCRD in San Diego. The first couple of days there were much like the person who wrote about “Motivation” article. Mass confusion, no sleep for close to two days and many berating encounters with the Drill Instructors. The next few weeks proceeded much like the first two days but we were allowed to sleep. One of the things we were required to do was “PT” physical training! Doing set ups, push ups, a variety of other things including running were part of the agenda. I was what would be called a nerd today and a weakling back then. I weighed 175 pounds and was six feet four inches tall and had never participated in sports of any kind. After a couple more weeks with me always being the last one to complete all the physical exercises I was move to a place called the “Motivation Platoon”! If I thought it was rough in regular boot camp the Motivation Platoon was ten times worse. There was never a minute of the day that we were idle except when we were studying the Marine Corps Manual, at Church, or sleeping. When awake were either doing exercises of some type or we were running. We ran and ran and ran, nine miles a day, rain or shine. Three miles before breakfast, three miles before lunch and three more before supper. The Motivation Platoon was originally formed to help recruits that were over weight to loose the weight and gain some muscle, then return to complete the rest of their boot camp experience. Since I was the skinny weakening I didn’t have any excess weight to loose, all I needed was muscle. When we went to the mess hall for chow the rest of my Motivation inductees ate greatly reduced rations, while I was forced to eat double rations. And I gained the weight, lots of it. I returned to a boot camp platoon weighing 250 mean lean pounds. Boot camp was a breeze and I also made the rank of Lance Corporal at he rifle range by shooting in the top five recruits. After that I was trained as a radio relay operator and was on my way to Viet Nam! The rest is a whole another story.

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Comments

Paul Major - February 9, 2024

I too went to mote .. Four days straight. It was fun and the ditch was a way of life for many on Parris Island

Paul W Major - February 7, 2024

This brings laughing watery eyes to me . I can relate 💯 with my mother Brothers

John J. Hewitt - January 14, 2024

I was stationed at Quantico, Va. in PLC in the Summer of 1969. A Seregeant Instructor came into our Quonset Hut drunk and beat a fellow Candidate with a pipe for requesting Captain’s Mast. I testified against the Sergeant at his Court Martial!
Long story short, the Seregeant was acquitted, my fellow Candidate was given a Medical Discharge and I was sent to Motivation Platoon!.

michael j haggarty - April 19, 2023

Parris Island MCRD, 3rd Bat. PLT 3028 Jun to Aug 1966.

About 4-5 days after arriving on PI I and a fellow from Georgia were sent to the fat body platoon based on our weight….I was 6’, 211 lbs. In the event, we arrived at the platoon thinking it was a bit of a joke. So much so, we entered the squad bay in the barracks (WWII type) and greeted other recruits and causing some commotion. They begged us to shut up for fear the platoon DI’s would hear and punish everyone severely. Some of them had been there for weeks! They were spot on and almost immediately the handlers showed up and began berating everyone. That was only the beginning!!!!!!!

As I recall it was about 8:30am at that point. We were ordered to fall in at our racks and assemble and pick up ALL of our belongings. In their minds’ eyes that included sea bags; rifles, 782 gear; helmets; matresses, pillow, sheets and blankets. They instructed us, once we had picked up the aforementioned equipment, to assemble two abreast and prepare to leave through the rear door of the squad bay leading to an outdoor staircase from the 2nd floor. At that point, we were warned that if anyone dropped anything, the entire platoon would have to place all of their gear on the deck, or stairs, and then pick it all back up before once again moving to the destination, the outside assembly area near the outdoor field. Needless to say, there were repeated stoppages to put down and then pick up all the gear. At the risk of being brief, we never finished making it down the outdoor steps to the field, and in formation, until three hours later. Then, once in formation, we were given the order to march, and then double time in the three-inch deep sand track. with gear falling all over the place. This finally ended and we retired to the chow hall for lunch. The afternoon was filled with obstacle course trips, rock carrying in buckets from one place to another, and more harassment.

Knowing that if you were out of your platoon for more than three days you were held back, my platoon mate and I decided we would do all we could to loose weight and return to our assigned unit ASAP. The following morning when weighed I had lost almost ten pounds and so had the other guy. Perhaps we were only sent for a day and were not aware we had been only designated for one day to adjust our attitudes. However, when we returned to our platoon the following morning with our chits the Senior DI seemed genuinely surprised we were back so soon. Overall, it was an enlightening and comical experience and similar ones would occur over the ensuing weeks.

A final note! My primary and secondary schools were taught by Catholic nuns and priests who were steeped in the concepts of corporal punishment. As such, I think I was capable of enduring almost anything the Corp could dole out, especially in the form a verbal abuse. LOL!

Thanks for entertaining my rant! Semper Fi

Hubert Beverly - August 27, 2022

On September 9,1967 I reported to San Diego. The motivation platoon was used with recruits who were overweight or had a poor attitude and did not want to be there. In my platoon 2069 we had at least three recruits who were assigned to that platoon. They dug holes and filled them over and over. Semper Fi!

Edward Gatka - August 20, 2022

Our DI sent the entire port side of the barracks to one day motivation. Thank God I was on the starboard. He did this because he didn’t think our close order drill was quite up to par. This was summer 1975.

Peter Liller - August 16, 2022

I was at Parris Island (Platoon 277) from July-September 1972. Motivation Platoon had nothing to do with overweight or weakness…It was all about motivation for lazy guys or guys who got into trouble..They also had “1 Day Mot”, which was used once and and a while for a scare tactic for others. I remember calling it “Conditioning Platoon” for guys overweight or weak… There was also “CCP” or “Correctional Custody Platoon” for guys who took swings at Drill Instructors or bad actors…

Mike Hawke - March 12, 2022

As a member of Platoon 1033 @ Parris Island 1 Aug 66 until 27 Sept 66 I was not assigned to visit “Mr. Moto”, however most of the recruits were. Senior DI D.W. Streagle started sending 3 recruits each day to Motovation Platoon. After about 80% of the platoon had been motivated, the rest of us observed the effect the the day at Motivation Platoon had on the recruits upon their return to our squadbay. SSgt. Streagle did not know my name until we received our MOS assignments. Most recruits were assigned to be rifleman. When he called my name and announced that I had been assigned to data processing, he said “Who is this? Get up here. Why don’t I know your name?” I had never volunteered or raised my hand once during boot camp. I served with DPI 28 (Data Processing Installation 28) at Da Nang. I got discharged 5 days early after returning from Vietnam. I am proud to have served honorably as a United States Marine.

Brian Hillery - March 9, 2021

Responding to Chuck Downey. I remember you from Pensacola. Didn’t you drive a brown Riviera and we went to New Orleans a couple times with Boudreaux ?

Brian Hillery - March 9, 2021

Parris Island Aug – Nov 1975. I thought I was doing extremely well , right before I got sent to the “ditch” for a day. I shot expert at the range , I scored very high on all my written tests , and flew through all of the PT. I guess I may have come off as a little cocky , so I ended up spending a day in the MOT platoon. Crawling through concrete tunnels with DI’s throwing smoke grenades into the tunnels. Diving into shallow water with a make shift 20 pound rifle made from iron pipe. Crawling through mud and finally reaching the “pit” where we did sit ups in 12" deep mud. I was definitely motivated by the end of the day. We returned to the barracks late in the afternoon literally covered head to toe in mud and gunk. The stink didn’t go away for 3 days. I ended up graduating on time ( I didn’t get recycled ) and actually picked up meritorious PFC out of boot camp. I loved my time in the Corps. To this day I still get a lump in my throat when I stand for the National Anthem. Semper Fi my brothers.

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