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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23 comments


  • John
    July 72 what caused me to go to Mot was my attitude which in the second week I thought I had this down and was starting to have an attitude that it’s not as hard as I expected and began doing things that were noticed by the DI who have seen it all. I was on line and they said they had a quota for one day mot for 10 so being curious as to who was going, I kept looking down the squad bay to see who the lucky pvt’s getting chosen. Totally unaware my Senior DI had very slowly I think moved down the side of the bay on the port side and was sitting across from me. When I looked again to see who the unlucky pvt’s were he said “do you want to go to permanent Moot” (1- 30 days) and the assistant DI coming out of no where pulled me out into the bay by my nice clean while t-shirt and said oh he is deffinetly going right? So that night with the other DI who helped the ten of us pack of packs thinking he was being nice to us, but my attitude was pretty much still the same, I wasn’t scared. So the next morning with the sand flies we waited for the cattle car to pick us up. And when we got there I started to see how serious I should be taking all this. Long short without a discription I came back on the cattle with a note saying I faked passing out and needed to be sent back on Mon for per mot, which was really heat exhaustion for real. The guy next to me who had probably either been a regular flier there at mot said to rip the note but off at that point it done what was intended and I said noway because who knows they know everything. When I got to the squad bay and he read the note he had me stand on someones foot locker in the middle of the squad totally trying to embarrass me, saying that I wanted to go home and suck on mommies tit and all kinds of stuff like that. I know that kind of treatment would have really been embarrassing before mot, but after, it didn’t even register with me, I was like so totally motivated and zoned in to being motivated, that all the bullshit that I brought with me, insecurities and habits and curiosities and anything else was was not part of me for the rest of boot camp. I did volunteer the next we had a quota to as the DI said prove I was capable. That mot expirence was for me a breeze me. Not sure when, but shortly possibly that year or so the did away with the Motivation platoon that we saw all the time running basically all around PI and were always told thet was were we were going if we f—ked up, as our reward.

  • Rick Harris

    This story doesn’t add up. I was high shooter and 2nd academically in 2nd Bn Plt 214, PI 1975, and got PFC out of boot. Never saw Mote, but some did, and it didn’t have anything to do with gaining or losing weight. All I know is the guys that went came back smelling pretty bad from getting up close and personal with The Ditch. The author is describing PCP (Fat Body Platoon), not Mote.

    I gained 20 lbs in boot. No way someone gained 75.


  • Ken Lancaster

    I questioned this on another article that a marine was given E3 out of bootcamp and someone replied from his plt. it was true that he gave 110%n everything! I said it took me nearly 11/2 yrs to make E3 then again i was at Paris Island (69-71)


  • Harvey Rosenfeld

    Sounds like the Marine Corps I know a continue to love. I was a bit opposite of the recruit in the preceding story. I was a 140 pound high school graduate with no prospects of college due to lack of funds and grades that were short of college expectations. I was, however in excellent shape having run track in highs school and played three years of soccer for my high school. Once graduated I tried the work force but jobs were scarce, at least those with only high school level education, so I finally decided to join the USMC. Off I went to Paris Island, SC. Having a close friend at home who went through the same depot, I was aware of the on-coming onslaught of harassment, and anticipated training. I survived boot camp, Camp La Juneau (ITR) then off to radio communications training in Florida, then, finally, First Radio, Co., Kaneohe, Hawaii for more training and refinement in the mobile vehicles equipped with the appropriate communications suit capable of intercepting and locating targeted enemy’s communications. Soon thereafter I found myself among a few good Marines in South Vietnam being among the first Marine unit in Vietnam; i.e. 1st Radio Company. Our final base of operations in country was in the central highlands of S. Vietnam, until replaced.


  • Dwight Morgan

    In 1972 it was the PCP (Physical Conditioning Platoon) for the overweight guys and Motivational Platoon (MOTO) for the guys that got into trouble or for lack of motivation. “A” Co. Platoon 1094. 7/1972


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