This Former Parris Island Drill Instructor Is Being Separated From The Corps. Here's Why

news

The last of the former Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island drill instructors implicated in perhaps the most notorious trainee abuse scandal the Corps has seen in more than six decades has pleaded guilty to multiple violations of military code and is being separated from the service.


Sgt. Michael Eldridge pleaded guilty to failing to obey an order, disorderly conduct and maltreatment, according to the Corps, for his part in a July 2015 incident during which he, among other things, was accused of hazing a Muslim recruit by ordering him into a commercial clothes dryer and turning on the machine multiple times. Eldridge was alleged to have interrogated the recruit, Ameer Bourmeche, about his loyalty and to have made him renounce his faith before allowing him to exit the dryer.

Implicated in the same incident was former-Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, who in October was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge after a court-martial found him guilty of abusing Bourmeche — now a lance corporal — and former trainee Raheel Siddiqui just before his death in March 2016.

Eldridge entered his plea during a summary court-martial at an undisclosed date. He was reduced in rank to corporal, given 45 days restriction and, according to the Corps, is in the process of being administratively separated from the Marines.

The summary court-martial, a low-level proceeding, was part of a pre-trial agreement that required him to testify against Felix, who last fall faced general court-martial — the highest-level military court — at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

During Felix’s trial, government prosecutors painted him as a sadist with a pattern of targeting Muslim trainees, including Rekan Hawez — who also testified Felix ordered him into a dryer — Bourmeche and Siddiqui.

Siddiqui, 20, a Muslim and Pakistani-American from Taylor, Mich., died March 18, 2016, after falling three stories from his barracks following an altercation with Felix while trying to request permission to go to sickbay.

Felix was found to have made Siddiqui — who was reportedly had an extremely sore throat and had recently coughed up blood — perform a series of punitive exercises and, after the recruit collapsed, to have stood over him and struck him in the face. Moments later, Siddiqui reportedly jumped up, ran out the back door of his barracks and fell from a stairwell to the ground below.

Investigations of the incident spawned a hazing probe at Parris Island that uncovered further misconduct by drill instructors and supervision failures by senior leadership.

The scandal that ensued was arguably the biggest since 1956, when a Parris Island drill instructor was prosecuted after he led an unauthorized, punitive nighttime march into Ribbon Creek, where six recruits drowned.

Felix and Eldridge were the fifth and sixth, respectively, drill instructors to be referred to courts-martial in the wake of the probe.

And Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon is still scheduled to face general court-martial beginning March 12 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Marine Training and Education Command spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena said Monday morning. Kissoon is charged with failing to sideline Felix, who the Corps says should not have been supervising Siddiqui’s training platoon because he was already being investigated for the dryer incidents.

Kissoon formerly led 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, which housed Kilo Company, Platoon 3042 — Siddiqui’s unit, led by then senior drill instructor Felix.

On March 31, 2016, the depot announced Kissoon had been relieved of command, a decision the Corps says was made the day before Siddiqui’s death.

Siddiqui’s family has filed a $100 million federal lawsuit claiming negligence on behalf of the government.

———

©2018 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Caitlin Brink
Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less

U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.

The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.

Read More Show Less
(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.

If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

Read More Show Less

There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.

For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.

Read More Show Less
(Facebook photo)

The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less