A spate of aggressive room inspections and an assault in the barracks at Camp Pendleton, California, last year resulted in a punishment of at least seven noncommissioned officers for hazing-related misconduct, according to a Marine Corps investigation.
The incident occurred in April 2017 when two junior ranking Marines ― a private first class and a lance corporal ― were subjected to five different room inspections in one night, according to the investigation.
It was the end of a hellish series of field day room inspections when several corporals pushed into the barracks room of the junior Marines.
“Why you look like a f**king bitch? You going to f**king cry?” one corporal asked one of the junior Marines in room 353.
“Boy, give him no attitude … I will throw you into a f**king wall,” another corporal told a private first class, according to a cellphone recording of the incident.
Before the NCOs had entered the room for the final inspection, the lance corporal had decided to start recording, which he told investigators was a means to defend himself later.
“Minutes before they entered the room I heard shuffling and muffled voices outside of our door and proceeded to flip my phone upside down and record audio,” the lance corporal said in a statement to an investigator.
Marine Corps Times obtained a copy of the battalion-level command investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The incident involved between six to eight noncommissioned officers, most of whom were corporals, with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
The investigation led to a guilty plea by Marine Cpl. K.D. Lee at a November summary court-martial to “wrongfully condoning or ignoring hazing that she knew or reasonably should have known did occur,” a spokesman for the 1st Marine Logistics Group previously told Marine Corps Times.
Lee was reduced to lance corporal and sentenced to 60 days’ restriction and forfeiture of two-thirds of one month’s pay after pleading guilty.
Six other noncommissioned officers were NJP’d.
The completed investigation recommended one corporal face Article 81 conspiracy, Article 92 hazing and Article 128 assault charges. It’s unclear who was accused of assault because the Marine Corps redacted from the report the names of the specific Marines involved in the incident.
The incident occurred on April 6, 2017, when Marines with Bridge and Bravo companies of the 7th Engineer Support Battalion were conducting a field day cleanliness room inspections.
During the first round of inspections a corporal passed the room, but a sergeant, inspecting the lance corporal’s Service Charlies uniform, told the two junior Marines to conduct further general cleanup.
A third inspection was conducted by two Bridge Company corporals who failed the room and said it would need to be reinspected.
After they left the room, the lance corporal — in the tradition of the infamous lance corporal underground — sent a text message to warn other Marines about the inspection.
“Just got checked its Cpl. [name redacted] and Cpl. [name redacted] and Cpl. [name redacted] on some sort of power trip cuz he was screaming like a Bravo Company NCO and Cpl. [name redacted] was like some sort of passive aggressive hype man,” the text said.
The two inspecting corporals caught wind of the text messages, and returned to the room and failed it again.
Several other corporals, inspecting a nearby room, joined in.
Up to eight NCOs entered the room.
“He has been to 29 Palms … he’s a f**king salt dog,” and unidentified corporal can be heard saying on the recording, which was turned over to investigators.
According to a statement to investigators, one of the corporals from Bravo had pinned the private first class to the wall.
“He’s barely putting his hands on you. Do you know how many times that guy’s been deployed and not been NJP’d and shit? He doesn’t give a f**k ― that was a little taste of Bravo,” a corporal can be heard saying on the recording, according to the investigation.
The investigation also recommended several other corporals involved in the incident be charged with hazing.
During the investigation, two corporals said “(Bravo Company) is known as boot camp Bravo” and that the company merely “holds Marines to a higher standard.
“Bravo company has a mentality within its non-commissioned officer corps that condones hazing,” the investigation reads.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.