Fallout in Scivvies

Fallout in Scivvies

I hit Parris Island 2 Jan. ’57 also a 17-year-old. We arrived just prior to the fallout from the investigation of the 4 Marine recruits that died from drowning in Nov. ’56.

My 53-year recollection of the incident was that a Staff Sergeant McKean after a night of drinking, rousted his platoon out like at 1 a.m. They had to have been at the rifle range which made the recruits deep into training (8-9) weeks, to be at the range. We were told that S/ Sgt. McKean marched them behind Baker Range into the swamp which we were told was about 4-feet deep — dark night, murkey cold swamp water up to your chest, visions of snakes and other creatures lurking in the water. And, I’m sure, S/Sgt. screaming at them. Four recruits in a group panicked, got cut off from the main body of recruits and ended up drowning.

The news media was informed S/Sgt. was busted to private, three months in the brig and forfeiture of 3 month’s pay.

We were Platoon #5 and had a senior DI and 3 junior DIs. One of our junior DIs was a sadistic SOB and our life was short of h&ll, until all four DIs were relieved of duty and we got 4 new ones. Life was a little better.

There were all kinds of Brass and politicians all over the Island putting on a good show over the drowning incident. Part of the fallout was every morning we had to fallout in scivies and some Lt. would give us a “head and knuckle” inspection to see if we were being abused. Duh! He should have checked the calves of our legs for boot prints and our sides for kidney punches.

All aside, it was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Incidentally, when we arrived at Camp Lejeune, (Camp Geiger) for our advanced combat and ITR training, scuttlebutt had it that S./Sgt. McKean was actually busted to buck sergeant and shipped up to Lejeune. The Marines take care of their own.

Semper Fi
Ron Stone, Cpl. USMC

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21 comments


  • Ira Feldman

    Jim do you remember the recruits name? And where he came from? After all of these years I do. I will never forget seeing his brains scattered on the ceiling. Leads one to wonder, I think E5 at that time was S/Sgt. You were not the leader in my platoon. I later met him at Quantico shortly before I was discharged. . He became a officer. Also not all of us shot Expert that day 2 did not qualify. I myself shot Sharpshooter (214) a few rounds short of Expert. Again leaves one to wonder if you are not a poser.


  • Ira Feldman

    I was in Platoon146 , Di’s was SSgt. McNeil, Sgt Brunner and Cpl Sanford. Were you in that platoon and do you come from Georgia?


  • Dan Colclaser

    Ken. I was in Plt. 423 on PI. Arrived there 1 Oct. 54 and departed 18 Dec. Was in 2nd. Bn. Back to PI 28 Dec. to casual Company until orders to Geiger for ITR early January. We were Depot Honor Plt. I was the right guide. Did you have Squads drill or FMF?


  • Civil War Marine

    When I went to Parris Island our DI’s never abused us, we got a lot of PT, when we did not listen well to orders that was the standard they used! and we sure started paying more attention!. as to the DI who was sent to Leavenworth he got what he deserved, if you have to strike a man to obey you have lost the ability to command. the crucible was created by a General who after the death of Marines in Beirut saw the need to have a better more team centered way of getting Marines ready to face combat. yes I agree that the training needs to be rigorous it should be balanced, because you are getting people ready to go fight yet not become some mindless, soulless machine. so my hat is off to those DI’s that have done an excellent job of turning out Marines that have gone out there and served our country with honor and distinction.


  • James Lynch

    The Sgt McKeon disaster extended all the way to MCRDSD in the summer of 1957 with a bunch of politicians coming on base to see for themselves how we were treated. I was picked to meet with one from Colorado, my home state. He really didn’t ask any embarrassing questions, and I don’t think any of them wanted to know anything anyway, besides I wouldn’t have told him any either. Plt 178


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