PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The training of Marine recruits at Parris Island is supposed to be tough. But investigations have found it to be downright cruel. Drill instructors abusing, humiliating and hazing recruits -- none of it permitted, according to Commanding Gen. Austin Renforth.
“You put your hands on a young man or woman you have crossed the line and we are not going to tolerate it,” Renforth said.
But investigations show that behavior was tolerated until last spring, when the abuses came to light.
An e-mail sent to the White House titled “Concerned Loved Ones of Innocent Recruits” described incidents of drill instructors withholding food, drinking on the job, calling recruits “terrorists” and “faggots,” and warning them that “snitches get stitches.”
The most notorious case, involving a Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui who allegedly jumped to his death after being slapped and choked by a drill instructor, is still under investigation.
In an earlier incident that same drill instructor allegedly ordered another Muslim recruit into a clothes dryer.
Renforth was supposed to fix all that when he assumed command last June. He said that choking, slapping and name-calling are not acceptable.
“Any allegation of recruit abuses comes directly to me. That is something I implemented when I took over,” he said.
But since then, one recruit has been found dead in his bunk, the cause still unknown.
Another is in critical condition after jumping from a second floor landing.
Both cases are still under investigation.
The Marines have brought charges ranging from lying to cruelty and maltreatment against four Marine sergeants involved in the abuse scandal; All four are slated for courts martial. None of those charges involve Siddiqui’s death.
More charges ranging from assault to dereliction of duty are expected to be filed against both officers and drill instructors.
But Renforth says the training at Parris Island will remain as tough, though not as cruel, as ever.