Since the death of Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui in March, Recruit Depot Parris Island has been the focus of much scrutiny as physical assaults between recruits, officer dismissals and ongoing investigations have garnered national attention.
Here’s a chronological look at the key incidents at the depot so far this year. We will continue to update this timeline.
March 7: Recruit Raheel Siddiqui arrives
Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Taylor, Mich., native, arrives at Marine Recruit Depot Parris Island to begin a 13-week training regimen to become a U.S. Marine.
Guidance counselors at his alma mater, Harry S. Truman High School, had been surprised to learn Siddiqui wanted to join the military. He was a “gentle soul,” in one counselor’s words, and he’d been attending the University of Michigan-Dearborn on a scholarship.
March 17: Top recruit commander decides to dismiss Siddiqui’s battalion commander
Col. Paul D. Cucinotta, commander of the Recruit Training Regiment, decides to relieve Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, commander of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, after receiving the results of an Inspector General of the investigation.
That decision is made public two weeks later.
Parris Island received official notification of the Kissoon investigation’s results on Feb. 23, a Corps spokesperson said.
Cucinotta was provided with the results of the investigation on Feb. 29.
March 18: Siddiqui dies during training
Siddiqui, placed in Kissoon’s 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, suffers a fatal, 40-foot fall at the depot.
Shortly thereafter, his parents tell a Michigan TV station they received information from the that said their son jumped to his death. Their attorney, Nabih Ayad, says the family continues to doubt their son committed suicide.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service asks Siddiqui’s family members and a former employer about his mental health history. NCIS says its investigation could take a year or longer, and that foul play is not suspected.
Later, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) writes to Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller on two occasions expressing concerns about hazing at the depot.
March 27: Recruit Morgan Brown assaulted in sick bay; assailant dismissed
Brown’s father, Bryan Brown, tells The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette his son, who was in a wheelchair at the time, was assaulted in sickbay by a fellow recruit.
He says the Easter Sunday attack knocked his son unconscious and left him with three facial fractures.
Parris Island officials confirm the attack and that the assailant was involved in “multiple disciplinary infractions” — including another attack on a fellow recruit.
In a letter to his parents dated April 26, Morgan Brown tells of an incident where his assailant “slammed” another recruit’s “head into a column.”
“The kid came back from medical with four staples in the back of his head,” Brown writes, “and it p— me off that it had to get that bad before they removed him.”
March 31: Depot announces dismissal of Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon
Parris Island announces Kissoon’s relief of command.
The decision to relieve Kissoon is made before Siddiqui’s death, Parris Island officials say, and Training and Education Command says the investigation that resulted in the dismissal is not related to Siddiqui’s death.
May 12: Depot announces Brig. Gen. Terry V. Williams will leave depot.
Parris Island announces Williams, the first African-American commander of the depot, would relinquish command in early June to move on to another posting.
Depot officials and Training and Education Command say Williams’ departure is not related to Siddiqui’s death.
Williams commanded Parris Island beginning June 2014 and presided over the depot’s 100th anniversary.
June 7: Depot announces dismissal of Col. Paul D. Cucinotta and Sgt. Maj. Nicholas A. Deabreu
Cucinotta, the top recruit commander on Parris Island, and his sergeant major, Deabreu, are relieved of command on June 6.
A spokesperson says a “command investigation … initiated following the death of recruit (Raheel) Siddiqui” led to the dismissals. This is the first time the Corps linked the recruit’s death to an investigation that resulted in disciplinary actions.
Cucinotta remains at Parris Island and attends the June 10 change of command ceremony. During his remarks, outgoing depot commander Williams thanks Cucinotta for doing “a lot for the RTR” and calls him a “professional and a real honorable man.”
June 10: Brig. Gen Austin E. Renforth assumes command of the depot
Renforth takes command vowing to bring “enthusiasm” to Parris Island.
He pledges the depot, under his command, will “follow the rules” and “do things right.”
Renforth says his father graduated from recruit training on Parris Island in 1942.
June 29: Corps announces investigations of 15 drill instructors for hazing, physical abuse
Training and Education Command announces 15 drill instructors and “affiliated leadership” on Parris Island are under investigation for allegedly hazing, assaulting and physically abusing recruits.
The probe of the drill instructors dates back to November, according to a news release. But some of the allegations, which include “hazing, physical abuse, assault and failure of supervision,” according to the release, stem from the investigation into Siddiqui’s death.
“During the course of the Recruit Siddiqui death investigation,” the Corps new release says, “facts revealed a drill instructor was improperly placed in charge of recruits while he was subject to an ongoing investigation. Existing orders, policies and procedures to prevent improper assignments were not followed.”
“Interim corrective actions have already been taken,” the release continues. “All Marines under investigation are currently assigned to duties that do not involve direct access to recruits.”
The investigations “appear isolated to companies with the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion” — Siddiqui’s former battalion — the release said.
Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston
(c)2016 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.) at www.islandpacket.com
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