A former battalion commander of the US Marine Corps’ 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island may face military charges for failing to stand down a senior drill instructor- one who currently faces charges in the 2016 suicide of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit.
Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Kissoon may be facing a court-martial for allowing Gunnery Sergeant Joseph A. Felix to remain as a drill instructor, despite previous anti-Muslim sentiments and abuse prior to the abuse and suicide of 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui, who leaped to his death in March of 2016.
Kissoon was in charge of the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at the time of Siddiqui’s death and relieved of his command a week after the young recruit took his fatal plunge, though his firing was reportedly unrelated to the suicide.
At the time of Siddiqui’s death, Kissoon was aware of Felix’s previous antics a few months prior, which involved an alcohol-fueled Felix tossing another Muslim recruit into a clothes dryer and interrogating him about his faith and allegiances.
In the aftermath of Siddiqui’s death, it was found that Felix continued to work as a drill instructor despite verbal and written orders to the contrary from the regimental commander.
With over 27 years of service, Kissoon is now the highest-ranking Marine to be facing judicial proceedings for the circumstances surrounding the suicide, with witnesses at the hearing giving mixed accounts of the officer- some call him “excellent” and “hardworking” while others derided him for being self-centered and “condescending.”
As an officer, Kissoon was slapped with three charges last week, all related to the event: failure to obey a lawful order and willing dereliction of duty, false official statements and conduct unbecoming.
Lead defense counsel for Kissoon and retired Lieutenant Colonel Colby Vokey says Kissoon has a blemish-free record and has been fully cooperative with the investigation, going so far as to say Kissoon went to “extraordinary” lengths to protect Marines.
In an interview with The Detroit News, Vokey said that “Kissoon and his staff were in the dark as to who was under investigation and for what.”
“The assignment of Gunnery Sergeant Felix was certainly indicative of extremely poor coordination and communication by the regiment,” Vokey said.
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