Copies of three Marine Corps investigations — obtained by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette through open records requests — provide more details about allegations of recruit abuse and hazing — and findings of systemic leadership failures — at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
The documents, which total 231 pages, are heavily redacted — over a quarter of them are completely blacked out.
The investigations have been linked in the wake of recruit Raheel Siddiqui’s death on March 18, and one of them pertains directly to the matter. Up to 20 Marines could face military justice proceedings or administrative actions, though no personnel have yet been charged.
An American Muslim of Pakistani descent from Taylor, Mich., he died from injuries sustained in an almost 40-foot fall at the depot. He fell after reportedly jumping from the third story of his barracks — shortly after allegedly being slapped in the face by a drill instructor.
Death of a recruit
“Command Investigation into the Facts and Circumstances Surrounding the Death of (redacted), Third Recruit Training Battalion, that Occurred on 18 March 2016”
▪ Key quote: “The facts and circumstances indicated several factors contributed to” Siddiqui’s death, including “maltreatment by his drill instructor team, leadership failures at multiple levels of command, and administrative and process failures, that if avoided, could have … reduced the risk of his death” (p. 11).
▪ Things to note: timelines of Siddiqui’s threat of suicide and subsequent evaluation on March 13-14, and his death days later; the roles of drill instructors, and the relationships and informal hierarchy that contributed to them hazing each other (“hat hazing”); other investigations of misconduct in the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion that dragged on or were improperly handled; the prevalence of suicide threats during recruit training
White House-prompted investigation
“Command Investigation into Allegations of Recruit Abuse and Mistreatment by (redacted), USMC”
▪ Key quote: “The preponderance of evidence will show that between 12 March 2016 and 27 April 2016, drill instructors assigned to Platoon 3044 (3rd Recruit Training Battalion) engaged in various forms of misconduct that amounted to multiple violations … of the Uniform Code of Military Justice … .”
▪ Things to note: details from an anonymous letter sent to President Barrack Obama; “The Dungeon,” “Building 751,” an unoccupied squadbay where recruits were taken for incentive training; and “Loyalty Speeches” (including bribing recruits with protein bars for not tattling about drill instructor abuse)
Related allegations of abuse
“Command Investigation into the Allegations of Hazing and Physical Abuse in Lima Company, Third Recruit Training Battalion”
▪ Key quote: “The investigating officer was tasked to address multiple allegations (in Company L, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, in summer 2015) of unauthorized physical contact between drill instructors and recruits, drill instructors under the influence of alcohol on duty, drill instructors singling out a recruit based on his religion … .”
▪ Things to note: how another Muslim recruit was allegedly ordered into a clothes dryer and questioned about his loyalties and religion; hazing during Marine Week (after recruits have officially become Marines); drill instructors allegedly drinking on duty
Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston