The sergeant major at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island has resigned after an altercation with a protester Thursday just outside depot's main gate, according to a statement from the base.
Sgt. Maj. Paul Archie, 44, quit Monday, less than a week after he was charged with assaulting Ethan Arguello near the base's entrance by knocking off Arguello's hat.
"Understanding the Marine Corps has very high standards of personal and professional conduct for its most senior leaders, Sgt. Maj. Archie voluntarily stepped down as the depot sergeant major, and the commanding general regrettably accepted his retirement," according to a statement from the base's public affairs office.
A statement released by Triumph Business Communications on Archie's behalf said Marine Corps Headquarters asked Archie to retire or be relieved of his command, so he resigned Monday.
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The senior enlisted adviser to Parris Island's commanding general, Archie approached a protest group on Parris Island Gateway near Marina Boulevard on Thursday afternoon, according to a town of Port Royal police report. The group, led by Arguello, a former Marine Corps drill instructor, was protesting the negotiations that led to the release of a U.S. Army soldier being held prisoner in Afghanistan. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged May 31 for five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay in a swap negotiated by the U.S. government.
Through a Facebook page called "America's One Voice," Arguello coordinated protests around Beaufort County last week.
According to the Triumph statement, Archie did not take issue with the protest's purpose, but with Arguello wearing his drill sergeant hat during the protest.
The sergeant major had asked Arguello not to protest while wearing the campaign cover, a hat issued after a Marine completes drill instructor school, according to the police report. When Archie saw Arguello wearing the hat, he stopped his Jeep and the two began to argue. The Triumph statement released Tuesday said Archie began talking to Arguello from inside his Jeep, but exited when Arguello became confrontational.
Video of the argument shows the two men touching heads, causing Arguello's hat to fall. Archie grabbed the hat and got into his Jeep, driving toward Parris Island. He later told police the cover was U.S. government property, and he was attempting to retrieve it.
Attempts Tuesday to reach Arguello for comment were unsuccessful.
Archie took the hat and proceeded onto Parris Island, where he was stopped at the gate, according to the release. Staff retrieved the hat and returned it to Arguello.
Arguello told officers that Archie lunged at him and had to be restrained by police who were already at the scene of the protest. Archie told police he felt spittle hit his face as the two exchanged words.
Archie turned himself in to the Port Royal Police Department on Friday, one day after the altercation. He was charged with third-degree assault and battery and released that day from the Beaufort County Detention Center on a $1,092.50 bond.
Archie had served as sergeant major of the depot and the Eastern Recruiting Region since February, according to the Marine Corps website. He had also served as a drill instructor at Parris Island between July 1998 and November 1999.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.