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Drill instructors for female Parris Island battalion punished after hazing investigations

Parris Island makes Marine Corps history: A gender combined company

Marines with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, the first combined company of male and female recruits, graduated at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, March 29, 2019.
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Marines with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, the first combined company of male and female recruits, graduated at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, March 29, 2019.

Multiple Parris Island Recruit Depot drill instructors and officers have been punished by the Marine Corps in response to allegations of hazing and other abuses last year, according to Marine Corps officials.

“As a result of those investigations, eight drill instructors received appropriate administrative actions of varying degrees relative to substantiated allegations,” but commanders determined criminal charges were not necessary, Marine spokesperson Capt. Bryan McDonnell said in an email.

Officers overseeing the instructors also were administratively punished, the email said.

In a phone interview with The Island Packet on Thursday, McDonnell declined to comment specifically on individual cases, citing privacy matters.

He did confirm that one drill instructor was relieved, which results in an adverse fitness report that ends a person’s tour as a drill instructor, and typically, will reflect negatively on that person the remainder of their time in the Marine Corps.

Investigations in the cases — which occurred in the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, a unit composed of female drill instructors training female recruits — began as the service considered more fully integrating male and female recruits during training, according to The Washington Post which first reported the story Wednesday.

Documents detailing the investigation, which The Post obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, recorded numerous allegations from 2018 including:

  • A recruit claiming a drill instructor threatened to break her neck.
  • A recruit claiming she was ordered to wear “feces soiled underwear” on her head. The instructor later said it was a misunderstanding and the underwear were not soiled.
  • A recruit needed medical attention after a drill instructor slammed her hand with a foot locker.
  • Recruits were forced to go through a chamber that introduces them to CS gas twice within minutes, instead of once, which is typically required.
  • In some of the cases, recruits reported they were told to lie or stay quiet.
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A recruit was resuscitated during forming day two of recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Feb. 4. The recruit fell unconscious as her stopped and was revived by first responders. The recruit is with Oscar Company of 4th Recruit Training Battalion. Lance Cpl. Terry Haynes Marine Corps Air Station Beaufor


McDonnell said all allegations of misconduct are “investigated very thoroughly” with multiple officers reviewing the cases and conducting a slew of interviews.

“We’re a reporting culture,” he said. “We’re an investigation culture.”

“Majority (of the drill instructors) are doing phenomenal work and, when they’re not, they’re held accountable,” McDonnell said.

This isn’t the first time Parris Island instructors have been investigated and punished for hazing recruits.

Pvt. Raheel Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Muslim-American from Taylor, Mich., died on March 18, 2016, after a three-story fall from his barracks. Shortly before that fall, he was hazed and struck in the face by a Parris Island drill instructor — one the Corps said should not have been supervising recruits since he was under investigation for abusing other trainees, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette previously reported.

The Marine Corps called Siddiqui’s death a suicide, saying that the recruit jumped to his death, but his family disputes that claim.

Former senior drill instructor Joseph Felix later was convicted by a military court of targeting Siddiqui and other Muslim recruits with abuse. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In November 2017, during Felix’s court-martial — a judicial court for trying members of the armed services accused of offenses against military law — other hazing instances were made public for the first time. Multiple Marines testified about their own hazing experiences as recruits, such as being instructed to choke other recruits. One was ordered into a commercial clothes dryer that was turned on while he was inside of it.

Siddiqui’s death was the Corps biggest hazing and abuse scandal at the depot since the Ribbon Creek incident on April 8, 1956, in which six recruits drowned.

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Lana Ferguson has covered news of all sorts for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the college’s daily newspaper.
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