During the Vietnam war President Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara came up with “Project 100,000,” and the idea was to kill two birds with one stone by drafting men who were developmentally disabled or just too stupide to be left into the army. It was to provide more men for the war effort and give the less fortunate a chance at being productive members of society.
There’s typically an IQ minimum of 80 points to serve in the US military, but the rule was loosened, and they started allowing in men with mental disabilities. These men became known a “McNamara’s Morons” and died at 5 times the rate of other Americans in the war.
You had men turning up to basic training that couldn’t even tie their own shoes and couldn’t even understand the basics like dressing the bed. Some of these soldiers didn’t even understand why they were utterly exhausted at the end of a run when they were full of energy at the start of the run.
When in combat training, none of the men could pass their physical training because they couldn’t grasp the idea of throwing a heavy training grenade in a high arc to reach the target that was 90 feet away.
A lot of the men were protected from battle and kept safe by sergeants who took pity on them, but a lot were sent into dangerous battles on the front line. Not only were some of these men a danger to themselves they also put their fellow soldiers in harms way by not being able to grasp the seriousness of what they were involved in.
For example, in one platoon a dozen men were injured when a live grenade was tossed at them by another soldier as a prank. The soldier in question didn’t have the brain function to understand how dangerous a grenade was.
The word McNamara Moron’s was a derogatory term used by many of the sergeants to describe many of the men that fell under their care. Although the experiment was a disaster, not all of the men drafted under this new legislation failed to learn and grasp the fundamentals of combat. Many went on to have distinguished careers, and many were awarded the “Medal of Honour.”
The story of Forrest Gump was inspired by McNamara’s soldiers and the bravery some of these men showed when faced with impossible odds.