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A Marine Corps recruit hazed by his Parris Island drill instructor suffered chemical burns so severe that he required skin grafts to his rear end, the Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe reported today.
The injuries occurred in December 2012 at Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, when the recruit was ordered by his drill instructor “to perform unauthorized exercises under an upside-down laundry bin on a floor covered in bleach and required to stay in his wet pants for hours,” according to the Post. The severity of the incident came to light after Lamothe received documentation about the case from the Marine Corps as part of a larger Freedom of Information Act request on hazing incidents in the service.
— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) May 3, 2017
The drill instructor, Sgt. Jeffrey VanDyke was convicted in 2014 on “numerous allegations of cruelty and maltreatment, assault and failure to obey a lawful order in the case,” Lamothe writes. VanDyke has been accused by other recruits and even drill instructors of abusing would-be Marines; prior to his conviction, VanDyke was ordered to stand down from training recruits for three days after he grabbed a recruit by the throat, according to the Post.
The recruit, whose name was withheld from the report, was required to stay in his wet clothes for hours before he told another drill instructor about his burns. As his condition worsened, he had little choice but to drop out of training to seek help:
“The burned recruit did everything he could to continue training, applying burn cream repeatedly even as he performed exercises and went to the rifle range. Eventually, the pain was too much and received treatment from doctors on base and nearby hospitals.”
The recruit received skin grafts to his buttocks from pig and cadaver skin at an undisclosed burn center in nearby Charleston, according to internal documents. But the injury worsened, from second- to third-degree chemical burns. The recruit was told by medical authorities that “his skin had been liquefied by the bleach,” and he was sent for more possible skin grafts later that month.
The Post requested the documents in response to a hazing scandal that broke publicly following the death of Pvt. Raheel Siddiqui, a Marine recruit who fell 40 feet over a railing following physical abuse at the hands of his drill instructor. In the wake of Siddiqui’s death and a subsequent investigation by the Marine Corps, new details relating to other hazing incidents have emerged and generated heated debate among Marines and veterans about the role of hazing in recruit training.
Tweets like this were inevitable. Even when a recruit needs skin grafts and did everything he could to graduate with his boot camp platoon. https://t.co/8nG44NPx3f
— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) May 3, 2017
As for the recruit, the hazing incident was a “black stain” on his career, he told a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent.
The reason, he said, was that by seeking medical attention and speaking up, he got his drill instructor in trouble.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.
Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.
Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."
Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.
Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.
Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.
"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."
Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.
Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.
"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.
Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.
Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.
Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.
When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."
Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.
Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.
Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.
"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.
"Yes," Graffam said.
The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.
US troops are using dating apps more and condoms less as sexually transmitted infections surge within the ranks
The U.S. military is seeing an increase in sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in part due to dating apps, according to the Military Health System.
"There appears to be an increase in high-risk behaviors among service members; that is, having sex without a condom or having more than one sexual partner," Air Force physician Maj. Dianne Frankel said in a news release.
Three Marines killed in a December plane crash are finally coming home.
Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Hercules and one Marine on an F/A-18 Hornet were killed when both planes went down about 200 miles off the Japanese coast.
A recent salvage operation of the KC-130J crash site recovered the remains of three of the Marines, who were later identified, Corps officials said.
The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.
A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username "Baptist Dave 1611" ranted in a recent video, calling gay people "sodomites," "vermin scum," and "roaches" among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story Wednesday.
"The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman's command team," said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.
Two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, defense officials have announced.
Operation Resolute Support issued a terse news release announcing the latest casualties that did not include any information about the circumstances of their deaths.