A trainee at Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island needed skin grafts after suffering second- and third-degree burns during a 2012 hazing incident, according to official documents.
According to the Washington Post, which first reported the story Wednesday, a then-drill instructor — former Sgt. Jeffrey VanDyke — ordered the unnamed recruit “to perform unauthorized exercises under an upside-down laundry bin on a floor covered in bleach.” The recruit was not allowed to change his wet pants afterward.
The recruit told a different drill instructor about the burns the same night, but tried to continue training for a few days.
Eventually he had to seek medical attention, telling healthcare staff that the bleach had liquified the skin on his buttocks.
The Post has reported on the case before — VanDyke was sentenced to a year in military prison in 2014 — but this is the first time details of the specific injury have come to light.
The case was not part of the documents recently obtained and reported on by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette — those documents detailed allegations of hazing from Jan. 1, 2014 to the present.
During that time, there were 24 hazing investigations, half of which have been substantiated, according to the Corps.
Allegations contained in some of those investigations — 15 have so far been obtained by the newspapers through the Freedom of Information Act — ranged from name-calling to serious physical assaults.
One found “a staggering level of misconduct and recruit abuse” and recommended three drill instructors for courts-martial — one at the highest level — after trainees reported being choked, hit in the face, kicked in the stomach and having their heads slammed into walls, among other things, by their drill instructors in February 2015.
While each training unit at Parris Island has been investigated for hazing, that specific inquiry centered on 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, the same unit that’s been scrutinized for allegedly hazing and abusing recruits since the high-profile death of trainee Raheel Siddiqui in March 2016.
Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Muslim-American of Pakistani descent, died after a three-story fall shortly after being reportedly disciplined by a drill instructor. He was reportedly called a “terrorist” at one point.
Several face courts-martial in the wake of the ensuing scandal, and others have been disciplined, the Corps says.
The Corps says hazing has not been widespread during the past three years at the depot, citing the 24 investigations in comparison with 60,000 recruits began training at Parris Island during that time.
Former training battalion commander Kate Germano told the newspapers that the depot’s leadership climate was permissive to hazing. She compared some of the behavior she saw to the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib.
Former recruits such as Thomas “Jake” Weaver and Rebekah Kind said they were afraid to report the behavior they saw during their time at the depot.
Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston
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