Parris Island recruits had a ‘choice’ to go to ‘war’ — here’s what happened

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    Korean War Memorial
    Korean War Memorial in Washington DC.

    Rebekah Kind knew something was different when she tried to leave the classroom to refill her canteen.Kind, then a 28-year-old trainee from Zion, Ill., at Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in summer 2016, was usually allowed to get water during lectures such as this one — staying hydrated was encouraged.

    Not this time, though: She was ordered to sit down, and moments later a male with an official-looking folder entered the room, which halted the history lesson on the Korean War.

    Her platoon, 4037, and sister unit 4036 — about 120 recruits from Company O, 4th Recruit Training Battalion — sat rigid in their desks, their backs straight, not touching the chair, their feet on the floor at 45-degree angles. Canteens rested on their desks, she remembers, along with some paper for note-taking. They wore camouflage blouses over green T-shirts.

    Their drill instructors had earlier left the classroom, leaving them with an instructor and, now, the male , who pulled a piece of paper from the folder and began to read.

    As he did, she cried and heard others “quietly sobbing.”

    Four American cities had been attacked, likely by the Islamic State, Kind remembers the saying. One of them was Chicago, just 50 or so miles south of her hometown.

    “Because of my age, I remember 9/11 quite well,” Kind recently told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. “So it’s completely plausible ISIS could have attacked our country, so I didn’t even question when they told us that.”

    What Kind says happened next — what she calls “a trap” and now considers — shattered her trust in the people training her.

    It was a surprise war-deployment scenario, one with a cruel twist, in Kind’s view. Another former recruit told the newspapers that he experienced it, too, and it’s an activity known to Parris Island officials.

    When done correctly, former 4th Battalion Commander Kate Germano said, it can be an effective teaching tool. But done incorrectly, Germano said, it can be considered .

    Yet the activity — at least its Korean War manifestation — has, according to Parris Island spokesman Capt. Greg Carroll, never been part of the recruit training curriculum. Nor is it currently used.

    But it’s important to consider its existence at a place like Parris Island, where the nature of military training creates a gray area in which might be more difficult to identify — especially in the moment — and thus report.

    At a time when the depot is being scrutinized for its treatment of recruits — following Raheel Siddiqui’s March 2016 death and recently obtained depot-wide investigations — Kind’s and others’ experiences raise questions about what is acceptable, and what might cross the line.

    Heads down

    The scenario Kind experienced has its roots in Georgia.

    It was inspired by a Savannah Corps Reserve infantry battalion whose members deployed “on extremely short notice” — many without finishing recruit training — to Korea in 1950, Carroll wrote in an email to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.

    “In the past,” Carroll wrote, “a scenario was presented to recruits as part of an attention gainer prior to the history period of instruction encompassing the Korean War.”

    Currently, recruits are instructed about the conflict in History Class 4, he said, which occurs in the first phase of training.

    Maj. Steven Allshouse, now director of Parris Island’s Drill Instructor School, remembers from his time with 2nd Recruit Training Battalion a scenario following a lesson on the Korean War. Recruits were told there had been an attack and that they would all — regardless of the military occupation they had signed up for — deploy as frontline infantrymen. Because of that, they were given a choice.

    “So, heads down,” Allshouse said, describing the activity. “Those of you that don’t want to do it, that don’t want to be infantry, put your hand up and identify. And then we’re just going to move you out so that we can expedite this process. So it’s kind of like an anonymous thing.”

    Then, recruits learned the scenario wasn’t real.

    But they were told to “understand that we are a war-fighting organization,” Allshouse said, “and the seriousness of your commitment is, technically, we didn’t even have to ask your permission.”

    Three minutes

    Sitting in the classroom, Kind listened to the briefing on the Islamic State attack.

    She and her peers were told their training would be accelerated and they’d be deployed, she said.

    They would fight on the frontlines in the infantry, regardless of what military job they’d signed up to do.

    Casualties would be high.

    She remembers being told she wouldn’t be able to call or write home to tell her family what was happening.

    The recruits were given a choice, she said: Remain in your seats and be deployed, or stand up so you won’t be.

    They were given three minutes to think about it, she said.

    They were told to put their heads on the their desks and close their eyes.

    “When I was told to close my eyes,” Kind said, “I thought the purpose was to protect anyone who stood up so they would not be singled out for ridicule.”

    A teachable moment

    Thomas “Jake” Weaver, 21, of Interlachen, Fla., a former member of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion who graduated from Parris Island in July 2015, said he and his platoon weren’t told to close their eyes.

    But they were given the choice not to fight.

    Weaver, who said he was during his time on Parris Island, said he can’t remember the subject of the lecture that was interrupted when a female with a “certified-looking document” delivered an “urgent message” to the recruits.

    North Korea had shot down an American jet, Weaver remembers being told. War had been declared.

    Germano, who was on Parris Island for a year before being relieved of command in June 2015, said the activity “has been going on for decades.”

    And she defends it as a teachable moment, but only if it doesn’t single out and ridicule recruits.

    “The idea behind that class is to reiterate that the emergency in Korea happened with very little warning,” she said, later adding that the goal was for recruits to ask themselves if they were serious about serving.

    “It is improperly done when the drill instructors look at the kids (who elect not to fight) and then label them as cowards,” she said. “So the bad drill instructors will take those kids, … and they’ll label them, and they’ll make those kids’ lives really miserable.”

    Germano, whose time predated Kind’s at the depot, could not confirm the then-recruit’s experience. But when asked if it could be considered , Germano said, “Oh yes, absolutely.”

    A crushing moment

    As Kind sat in the classroom, she thought about not being able to contact her family, of possibly dying without them knowing what happened to her.

    She stood up.

    Weaver did, too, for the same reason.

    Both recruits regretted doing so.

    When Kind stood, she opened her eyes and was surprised to see a handful of other recruits standing. She and the others were told to sit back down. Then, everyone was told to open their eyes. And then, those that had opted not to fight were asked to again stand up.

    “At that point, I kind of realized that it had been a trap,” Kind said.

    Her drill instructors rushed into the classroom, having somehow timed their entrance perfectly. Kind and others standing were called “cowards” and “traitors” and told to remove their camouflage blouses — they were a disgrace to the uniform, they were told.

    They were hurried back to their barracks and punished with calisthenics — “incentive training,” it’s called.

    It was a crushing moment for Kind, who’d just come off a “trial period” of training, she said. She’d been marked down for underperforming, but her Recruit Evaluation Cards — which she shared with The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, along with dozens of other documents from her time on Parris Island — indicated steady improvement.

    She said she was later dropped from training because of medical and psychological reasons and was discharged from the Corps.

    Weaver, who said he was also punished with exercises for opting not to fight, said he was “cussed up and down.”

    “The funny thing, now that I’m thinking about it,” Weaver said, “a couple of my friends (who are ) told me this would happen, but I had completely forgotten.”

    Weaver, too, thinks he was .

    He graduated recruit training but said the treatment he endured on Parris Island caused him to have a breakdown. He was discharged “other-than-honorable” — a classification he’s still appealing.

    Twisted

    , whether physical or psychological, is defined by the Corps’ policy as a “military member” causing another service member to suffer “any activity which is cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning or harmful.”

    Allshouse and Germano say that every recruit training activity has to be done with the intent of accomplishing a specific purpose.

    The depot’s Recruit Training Order says activities “must be designed to accomplish a legitimate training goal or illustrate a specific learning point” and “not be intended solely to create an intimidating environment.”

    The purpose of the war-deployment scenario was never explained to Kind and Weaver, according to them.

    Weaver said he and others were “(incentive trained) for weeks” following the mock-deployment scenario. Kind said her senior drill instructor had to later address the entire platoon and tell the recruits to stop harassing trainees like her who had stood up. All it did was create dissension, she said.

    Weaver said he saw the activity “as a good way to see who’s really ready to go to war” and called it “important.”

    But, he also said, “The way they twisted it in the end was not OK.”

    “All academic instruction conducted aboard Parris Island is supervised by at least one member of the training company’s leadership,” Carroll wrote in an email. “Prior to beginning recruit training, recruits are instructed to treat every with dignity and respect.”

    And recruits are instructed to report to their chain of command if they feel they’ve been mistreated, or if they witness mistreatment, he said.

    When asked when the activity was abandoned and why, Carroll told newspapers: “The primary purpose of History Class 4 is the curriculum, not the attention gainer.”

    Multiple, unsuccessful attempts were made to contact Kind’s drill instructors and series commander.

    “The only training it did for me was it trained me to distrust the leadership, Kind said, referring to the scenario she faced in the classroom.

    “And if that’s the training they intended, then by all means, they trained me.”

    Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

    ___

    (c)2017 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.) — www.islandpacket.com

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    32 COMMENTS

    1. Marines are war fighters and any that would stand up and refuse to want to fight are cowards and in the wrong service . I surely wouldn’t want to go into a life or death situation with someone whose on the fence or on the other side of it . This isn’t hazing , I’ve been through hazing and personally I have no problem with it . The Marine is an Alpha male or female organization and if your aren’t one or cannot be trained to be one you should pick a different service . The Marine Corps should’ve never adopted the P.C. culture or mentality brought to us by POTUS 43 and DADT should have never been repealed .

      • My exact feeling on the situation. You don’t join the Corps expecting not to fight. That’s the wrong idea and mindset to have. I endured the exact same. They related it more closely to our 9/11 Recruit counterpartfs, but it was still a very understandable and important piece of my training. They need to get used to the fact that war is now our business and leave their privilege at the same door, or don’t join at all. I don’t plan on losing my life next to some fucker that won’t fight.

    2. I agree with Marine Curl above me. The Marines is not the right service unless your ready to fight. That’s why it’s hard. That’s why you train. That’s why your a Marine. So many want to go through the training just to walk around and say they are Marines. But they don’t want to jump in the fight. I didn’t want to die in Vietnam, but I’m a Marine and that’s what a true Marine does. Without question. Thats why we’re so good. Semper Fi

    3. Omfg Cry baby sally ! Don’t sign to fight then ! I swear all these discharged Marines trying to get attention and compensation! This needs to happen more often if anything, as well as numerous forms of discipline during recruit training !

    4. I remember them reading orders from the Korean War. Sounding like North Korea attacked us and we are going to war. I remember peiole thinking it was real, some knew most didnt. Then we out our heads down and those who want to return home or not go to war sorta way had to raise their hands. I remember peiole raising hands in the corner of my eye. Me myself had a free falling out in my stomach, i thought it was real, i grew up in Germany as cold war needed, my father worked with nuclear, chemical weapons in east germany he told me of the horrors of the Russians and killing people just for marching out of step. Thoughts raced through my head knowing dead is very lilly in such a modern war, but I thought about my fiance and family and remembered reaching deep down inside and knowing going over to War is the best chance we have to keeping an away from home but everyone has to work as one. So i didn’t raise my hand.

    5. She is a coward if they stood up and said they would not go. As a marine I am.saying this because I earn my place as a marine and I became a marine knowing I am first a rifle man and that’s my first MOS. The grunts might disagree but hey that’s why they are call Grunts but as a farmer 0621 I was out there with them setting up comm. And getting wet and eating the same shitty MRE. But I think she is weak for thinking about herself and he was weak also. Because that simple mean they was still an individual when you you me the corps it’s no longer about you are your family alone it’s about the man or woman you serving beside and about what will happen to the line if you drop out you will leave the flank expose and leave room for the enimie to win and kill your brother and sister and then what going happen to there family and friends. She and him was only worried about how would her mom.know she is dead. Well don’t worry about that as long as the marine corps live on we all will carry on because we are always semper Fidelis. GOD,country,corps if you are afraid to die don’t join. Because we are all afraid of the unknown. And we all have fear but what make is have courage if the will to overcome out fear and adapt and over and endure hardship.

    6. I don’t usually comment publicly in a civilian newspaper but this needs to be said. Damn you for standing up. You’re not at boot camp to think about you family. You’re not at boot camp to think about the dick you’re sucking back home, you stupid wook fuck. This is not the army. This is not the navy. This is most certainly not th Air Force.

      The marine corps exists for two specific purposes: make marines and win battkes. You can’t realistically do the latter if you’re not a part of the former.

      To the woman recruit (not a US Marine) who complained, I hope you choke on a Bernie sanders cumshot. Maybe, when you die by the socialist’s hands, we can sleep easy knowing that our sacred corps is free from your foolishness. The marine corps is a war fighting institution. If you don’t want to fight, join the goddamn peace corps.

    7. Now every recruit knows this is an act. Stop posting and writing articles that expose all of MCRD training rituals. Everything these drill instructors work so hard for, my husband included, is to mold these recruits into Marines. This is one example of a mental and emotional challenge that should be left a secret of the boot camp process. Take this article down, it does no good for the Marine Corps which you try to represent.

    8. I think everyone who stood up should be discharged.This is no game or a paycheck Its The FEW, THE PROUD.Great way to get rid of the posers.

    9. Need to get back to the old recruiting slogan, “We don’t promise you a rose garden”. Liberal weenies who need safe spaces need not apply. Go join the Air Force, if they’ll have you.

    10. Ooh Rah! to those who remained seated then and remain seated to this day. Today’s PC, coddled children (as others have noted) should stay out of the USMC!!! America needs true warriors, not wanna-be “showboats”.
      I’m not a Marine (Navy, proudly) but I raised one (Afghanistan Vet–even prouder of his service).

    11. The Marine Corps has no time for the nonsense spewed in this drivel. The Marine Corps trains warriors of the finest class, and the way to train warriors is to; keep the recruits on edge, teach discipline, establish a team through esprit de corps, and keep them motivated to fight when they are needed. The Corps is not in the market for individuals that claim conscientious objector attitudes. All Marines are basically trained as light infantry, regardless of MOS. During the Korean War; a rear guard was established, manned mostly by cooks, and clerks. The job of the United States Marines is; to engage and defeat the enemy through fire and maneuver.

    12. I don’t remember this happening while I was there however while I am ready to fight to day I will do this under my own rules, if it’s not wearing the same uniform kill it. By the I chose airwing for a reason,insted of some rear eschlon nonfighting jackass telling me to go die I could tell them to go and don’t hurt my jet.

    13. So, why does this guy post an article but only interview two people, one who didn’t even complete Recruit Traning and one who didn’t serve honorably? It’s not like they don’t have an axe to grind, and as a Marine, I don’t want to fight with someone who doesn’t want to be there. There are other branches to serve that will do a better job at keeping you off the front lines.

      It’s like that meme says, “Everyone wants to be a gangster, until they have to do some gangster sh(t.”

    14. if you stood up you forgot what you signed on the dotted line for!!!! Marines die thats what we do. Fuckin pussies i remember this shit and i was ready for war

    15. Love how all these drop outs feel like they are entitled something for not making the cut. Not only did they lack the will to fight, but also when confronted for their cowardice got butthurt and called hazing. Being a drill instructor is a dangerous job right now, can’t even do your job without some prissy little brat calling hazing and ruining your career.

    16. The Enemy is not going to care how you feel there will be no safe space to go to there will be no mom or dad along side you. It will be the Brothers and sisters to your left right in front and behind you during the time of war. If you didnt make it through the 13+ weeks of hell becuase it was to hard for you mentally then how can you ever expect to take anothers life? Im glad the Marine corps knocks out the week because I wanna come home to my wife our future kids and family.

    17. Same thing happen when I was in boot. Commie fucker next to me raised his hand. We both got smoked bc they didn’t know which one it was. He and I had problems after that lol.

    18. wow, fucking pussies, seriously “Aww I got an other than honorable” you know what that means, he claimed he was suicidal or refused to train when he got to SOI like so many other pussies just cuz they realized that they were pussy cry babies and wanted to go home to their mothers womb. Fucking civilians trying to soften our USMC like the military is some sort of social experiment. Fuck you. The same 14 that stood up from our platoon were the same ones that would rat anyone out to save their own skin, they were pieces of shit, maybe only 1 or 2 actually had an OK reason why they stood up, seriously you joined the USMC when you KNOW that their is tension in the world and you could be called on to fight, you joined the fucking USMC of all branches, if you didnt want to fight why didnt you join the airforce. The lesson you learned was to test to see if you actually understood your duties, that you are a fighter, YOU ARE A RIFLEMAN FIRST! If you bolt at the first sign of combat then you kind of fucked the Marine to your left and right huh

    19. A Marine’s first job is a Rifleman. If you don’t understand this, you should never join them. This is not hazing. Grow a pair buttercups.

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