Terry Thomas

Motivation Platoon

Motivation Platoon: By Terry Thomas

The Marine Corp had zero tolerance for whiners, slackers and dead beats.
If you fell into that group and you did not or would not shape up.
You were sent to the Motivation Platoon.

As we trained and exercised daily you could see those boots,
as they were not Marines yet getting their treatment.
They would dig one hole in the sand and would use that sand and by bucket
they would carry it several hundred yards to fill a different hole.
For sixteen plus hours a day doing the same thing, going back and forth
for two long weeks.

If you rebelled and or refused to do as ordered you could always look forward
to another two weeks of Motivation Platoon.

If after four weeks you did not get it you were usually discharged from the armed
forces with either a General Discharge or a BCD, AKA Bad Conduct Discharge.
Both of which would haunt you the rest of your life but at the tender age of eighteen
years one would never understand what that meant in real life later on.

Now here is the Kicker.

The Marine Corp graduated boots every two weeks. Every two weeks another
company would graduate.

If you fell back two weeks for discipline training you had to fall back to a platoon that was
two weeks behind your original platoon.
So now boot camp was actually fourteen weeks in lieu of twelve. Ouch.

The Marine Corp had what was called the Commandant of the Marine Corp physical fitness
test and all boots had to pass this test before they could graduate.
It consisted of exercise, rope climbing, repelling down and running a three mile
course in less than twenty six minutes.

By the time you reach the test you are so close to graduating you can smell it.
I came down sick on the Friday before Mondays test. And I was sick, coughing up crap
and high fever. So Friday afternoon I requested to go to sick bay and was granted permission.

Sick bay was the term used for a hospital that was on the base and it was run by doctors I think.
The men who checked you were called corpsman. Kind of like a male nurse,
but they did study medicine as I would later learn.

During my visit I was told what I already knew, I was sick. The corpsman was giving me an
order for forty eights hours of bed rest and when I heard that I freaked.
The Corp had a rule if you missed more than twenty fours for any reason you had to fall
back to a newer platoon. I was just a few days from graduation, and I was not going to fall back.

My family was already in route here to see me graduate. Falling back was not an option,
at least for me. I mean I had trained with my platoon for eleven weeks now I was not going
to graduate with some platoon full of recruits who I did not know. I wanted to march by the
commanding officer in past and review with my platoon.

So I pleaded with him and told him if he gave me twenty fours hour then it would be Sunday
and I could have that day also as Sundays were a free day and I could use it to recover.
He agreed with that and wrote the note and gave me some medicine.  

By Monday I was better and ready to do what I needed to do. I remember the last part of the test,
the three mile run.

When I rounded the last turn Staff Sergeant Webb was there holding a time piece and I heard him
call out “twenty four minutes and thirty seconds” and I freaked again. I had well over a half of mile
to go and less than ninety seconds to do it. I lost all control of thought.
The fact that I knew there were many behind me as I had left them in the dust escaped me.
I could only think of those ninety seconds.

With head down and lungs feeling like they were going to explode I gave it all I had.

When I crossed the finish line I heard the clock sergeant call out “nineteen minutes twenty seven seconds”.

God I hated Staff Sergeant Webb.

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