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.

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • 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

  • Boilermech

    In reply to Whiskeyrunner.
    Whiskeyrunner, In March or April ’68 in plt345 I finished first at the range with 489? out of 500. I did not get a promotion! evidently us Hollywood Marines did have it differently. I also doubt that anyone coming back from “motivation platoon” would find the rest of their stay a breeze! I have never heard of anyone making E3 out of boot!! Semper Fi to all

  • Cpl.Jack L Bell

    In reply to GySgt B. G. Yarbrough.
    Gunny Yarbrough… I went through boot at SD from May 69 to Aug 69 with platoon 2090. We were stomping on the grinder the same time. DI’s were Gy/Sgt Cundiff S/Sgt Alfier and S/Sgt Ailer.

  • Harry

    In reply to bongo.

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