The Marine Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion was relieved last week due to “credible” domestic violence allegations.
The commanding general of the 1st Marine Division relieved Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala on Tuesday after he was served with a restraining order the month prior.
The allegations of the restraining order point to “unstable, violent, and harassing behavior” that made his wife “fear greatly for her safety.”
Zavala’s wife reportedly sought help from the Family Advocacy Program at Camp Pendleton, California, and feared reporting him due to possible retaliation.
The 1st Marine Division was less than forthcoming with details.
“An investigation is currently underway. This is an internal Marine Corps personnel matter and we will not release any further information at this time,” 1st Marine Division spokesman 1LT Cameron Edinburgh told Task & Purpose. “All Marines are afforded due process as outlined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. At this time, Lt. Col. Zavala has not been charged with any crime.”
Zavala’s 19-year career included earning a Bronze Star with “V” device for exposing himself to enemy fire during the attempted securing of a downed AH-1W gunship in 2010.
Zavala’s domestic violence issues began not long after he married in 2017, though a December 2018 incident was most notable.
Having just returned from a deployment to Peru, the Zavalas were engaged in an argument that ended with LTC Zavala striking his wife in the face.
“[Zavala] slammed me against the wall,” she wrote in a report, “Pinning me there while he screamed in my face, then threw me on the ground and held me down while he continued to yell in my face. When he let go of me I ran out of the room and across the street to the neighbor’s house, who I barely knew, where I stayed overnight,”
The next day, as she packed to go home to her family, Zavala destroyed the house’s Christmas decorations.
Despite being asked not to contact her anymore, LTC Zavala would not stop attempting to reach out to his estranged spouse.
“I have asked him seven times to stop contacting me via email, texts, and calls after he continually harassed me by sending me hundreds of messages,” Mrs. Zavala wrote. “My attorney was even forced to send [LTC Zavala] a cease and desist letter to try and stop this harassment, but he continued to contact me after that and has even tried to contact my parents.”
The 1st Recon Battalion is the most famous of the USMC’s reconnaissance battalions, making a name for themselves during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which later became the book-turned HBO miniseries “Generation Kill.”
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