With the start of the new year, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette today will preview some of the biggest local issues expected to impact the lives of residents, workers, business owners and tourists in Beaufort County and surrounding areas. Following is one of 17 issues to watch in 2017:
The hazing and abuse scandal at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island will continue to unfold and shed light on the treatment and training of young recruits. And it will put pressure on the the Corps to scrutinize its processes, traditions and culture that transform civilian volunteers into Marines.
As the one-year anniversary of former recruit Raheel Siddiqui’s March 18 death approaches, the Corps has released the names of three Marines facing courts-martial. A fourth, unnamed Marine could be tried in the highest-level military court. These are the first of up to 20 drill instructors and leadership personnel whose careers could be affected.
The death and alleged mistreatment of Siddiqui, an American Muslim of Pakistani descent, has, in effect, linked three investigations, the findings of which detail, in the words of a former Parris Island commander, “the biggest recruit training scandal since the drowning of six recruits in 1956” — the infamous Ribbon Creek incident.
Additionally, a second recruit died in November. And another recruit was seriously injured when he reportedly jumped from the second floor inside a building — just four days after arriving on the island.
What explains the string of deaths and injuries? Why are they happening here, now? These questions and others face the Corps in 2017.