Over a dozen USMC Drill Instructors in South Carolina are under investigation for allegedly violating orders in regards to hazing, abuse and lack of proper supervision.
The investigation follows on the heels of a three-month-old incident, in which a 20-year-old recruit died during boot camp at Parris Island.
According to the Marine Corps Times, the announcement follows a series of position terminations after recruit Raheel Siddiqui died only days after his arrival to the Marines’ famed training depot.
“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 (TECOM) said in a Wednesday statement. “The investigations date back to November of 2015 and appear isolated to companies within the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.”
Raheel Siddiqui -a Muslim- was assigned to the 3rd RTB when he died on March 18th, having fallen 40 feet in a barracks stairwell.
“One of the critical questions in the internal probe, according to Marine officials, is how Mr. Siddiqui ended up under the supervision of a senior drill instructor who was already under scrutiny for alleged hazing involving minority recruits,” a Wall Street Journal article states. “In one instance, the instructor faced allegations of putting another Muslim recruit in a clothes dryer and making racially charged remarks, according to multiple Marine officials.”
Following the death of Siddiqui, Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan asked Marine Commandant General Robert Neller if hazing was a factor in Siddiqui’s death.
“During the course of the Recruit Siddiqui death investigation, facts revealed a drill instructor was improperly placed in charge of recruits while he was subject to an ongoing investigation,” the Marine Corps’ statement says. “Existing orders, policies and procedures to prevent improper assignments were not followed. Interim corrective actions have already been taken.”
TECOM commander Major General James Lukeman will decide what actions to take once the three investigations into the incident -one being handled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the other two by the Marines- have concluded.
“We take every allegation of misconduct very seriously and will review each investigation carefully,” Lukeman said in a statement. “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. Every day, approximately 1,000 drill instructors at our recruit depots are doing exactly what they were screened, selected and trained to do in a professional, appropriate manner.”
Lukeman emphasized that the safety of Marines is “among our top priorities.”
“Once the investigations are complete, we will take necessary administrative and judicial action as warranted to ensure proper accountability,” he added.
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