Parris Island Drill Instructors Being Investigated in Hazing Death

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Will the hazing probe at Parris Island lead to a court martial?

In November 2015, a Muslim recruit died at the Marine Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina after a 40 foot fall in a barracks stairwell. Now, more than a dozen drill instructors are under investigation. The recruit died only days after arriving at the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.

 “The allegations, against approximately 15 drill instructors and affiliated leadership, identify potential violations of Marine Corps orders to include hazing, physical abuse, assault and failure of supervision,” officials with Training and Education Command said in a statement.

The Marines being investigated in the boot camp hazing death have all be re-assigned to duties that do not involved interacting with recruits. Moreover, a colonel who was the head of the Recruitment Training Regiment and its top enlisted leader were both fired, while the commanding general was reassigned to a stateside position.

The overarching issue in the probe is how the recruit was placed under the supervision of a senior drill instructor who was already facing allegations of abusing another Muslim recruit. In that case, the recruit was shoved into a clothes dryer while the instructor made “racially charged remarks.”

The probes by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service and the Marine Corps into the alleged hazing death revealed that the drill instructor should not have been in charge of recruits because of the ongoing investigation and that orders, policies and procedures related to improper assignments were violated. Based on the findings of the investigations, administrative and judicial actions may follow.

Maj. Gen. James Lukeman, head of TECOM, said in a statement that these allegations are being taken seriously, the investigations will be carefully reviewed, and appropriate actions have already been taken.

“MCRD Parris Island and MCRD San Diego are Marine Corps institutions entrusted by the American people to transform the best of our nation’s young men and women into U.S. Marines,” he said./

 While Gen. Lukeman stated that the safety of Marine recruits and boot camp training are a top priority, some observers fear that the firings may harm recruit training and that drill instructors “are going to be walking on eggshells.” That perception could be made worse if the investigation leads to formal charges under the UCMJ. At this juncture it remains to be seen how this case will affect recruitment training, but anyone with questions about possible violations of standard operating procedures should speak to an experienced Court Martial attorney.

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