Investigations Find Hazing at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Investigations Find Hazing at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

The Marine Corps’ recruit hazing scandal is not limited to the Corps’ East Coast training depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

At least two drill instructors at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego have been disciplined since 2014 for hazing recruits, according to redacted copies of the investigations, which Marine Corps Times obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

One drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego received nonjudicial punishment in 2014 after he ordered his recruits into the shower, where he had them crowd together while naked until they were standing, “nuts to butts,” as one recruit told investigators.

Another drill instructor accused of choking recruits was found guilty of violating a lawful order at a July 2016 summary court martial and reduced in rank to corporal, according to the investigation.

The Marine Corps is not releasing either of the drill instructors’ names, said Capt. Matthew Finnerty, a spokesman for the San Diego recruit depot. The drill instructor involved with the shower incidents is still on active-duty but no longer trains recruits; while the drill instructor accused of assaulting recruits has been administratively separated from the Corps.

Both the San Diego and Parris Island recruit depots have made a series of institutional changes to prevent hazing, including doubling the number of officers who supervise recruit training and adding more drill instructors, Finnerty said.

But the incidents show how hard it is for recruits to identify hazing at boot camp and report drill instructors who cross the line.

After an investigation into the shower incidents was launched in April 2014, several recruits told investigators they supported their drill instructor.

“His treatment did not affect me as it is boot camp and the yelling and craziness is something that comes with it,” one recruit wrote on a questionnaire from the Marine Corps’ Criminal Investigative Division.

Another recruit wrote that he was not sure if being ordered into the shower rose to the level of hazing because he was not entirely sure what hazing is.

“I thought we were just supposed to get used to seeing other naked men,” the recruit wrote on the questionnaire.

But other recruits wrote that being forced to crowd together that closely while naked was unacceptable and the drill instructor should not be given a second chance to train recruits.

“It’s against human rights; it’s something that you don’t do,” one recruit told a CID investigator.

With the other case, investigators found that a drill instructor assaulted six recruits between June and July of 2015. One of the recruits told a CID investigator that the drill instructor, a sergeant, grabbed his throat and picked him up so that he had to stand on his toes to breathe, according to the investigation.

The recruit had a fear of being choked before the incident, the investigation says. Afterward, he became paranoid, “unfocused” and “depressed,” but he initially kept quiet about it because he felt something bad would happen or no one would believe him.

“I wasn’t reporting it at the time because I was scared and wanted to keep it all in and continue training,” the recruit told a CID investigator. “I really didn’t want to go to the Crucible because I was afraid of what would happen there if I didn’t do well.”

Five days after the incident, the recruit told another drill instructor that he had been choked and he was later sent to the hospital for a mental evaluation, the investigation says.

His mother filed a report with the recruit depot’s provost marshal’s office after a Navy ensign in the hospital told her: “The incident had been investigated either at or above the command level and that it had been unfounded,” she told a CID investigator.

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Ray Camarillo Jr ” Cisco Kid”

    It is with great sadness that I have seen my country turn into a politicalycorrect , everyone is special and no one is wrong or accountable society. This primarily due to a strong and persistent liberal agenda that has permeated our schools, universities , many churches and homes and in the last few years even our Marine Corps. I went through boot camp in San Diego in June of 1972 (plt.3065). My drill instructor SSgt. Celissa wasone mean and determined Marine ready to make war ready Marines out of chicken shit civilian boys. He once made me do push-ups on my knuckles until they bled and he hit me ,as well as, many of the recruits when he deemed it necessary that we were not performing up to par and especially as a “Team”. I hated that SOB but I am ever so grateful that I learned to fight and defend myself and left the Corp with a swagger and confidence that followed me the rest of my life. May God Almighty protect our USA and our Marine Corps from the liberal left!!!

  • Edward Mlotkiewicz

    Are you kidding me?
    I went through 1st Battalion in P.I. in 1969.
    Butthole to belly button was the norm for new recruits.
    I moved my eyes while at attention and Sgt. Studerbaker, our least happy ADI, grabbed me by the windpipe and proceeded to “instruct” me , with curse infused curses, this wasn’t acceptable.
    Get a grip, snowflake. If you are captured, there is no timeouts.
    The tough training has served me well all my life.

  • Dave Creelman

    In reply to James Bledsoe.
    Our D.I.’s had ‘you medicine’. It was tabasco sauce. You had to stick your tongue out and get a few drops poured on it. It was a great cure.

  • scruffy

    What the h##l is wrong with these pukes. I was slapped, smacked and choked and saw others done the same way. I deserved it each time. They didn’t have to ‘explain’ the problem to me twice. Are these the snowflakes that I have been hearing and reading about lately?

  • Daron Aukerman

    I want to say thank you to all of you old Marines for their comments. I heard a bunch of stories from my father, PI 1975, and my uncle (PI 1990 or 91). I did my 13 weeks from August 2000 to October 2000. I was Plt 3092, Lima Co., 3rd Bat. There were “rules” against hazing but at the time 3rd. Bat was the one hidden in the woods away from prying (officer’s) eyes. We were yelled at, cussed at, and some of us got our thumping (not just intense pt on the quarterdeck.) My one bootcamp thumping came from our “heavy hat”. I was the house mouse and one day I forgot to dust under the DI’s rack. I was grabbed by the neck, dragged to the ground, and was forced under the rack. But, that was nothing compared to having to run for cover and hit the deck in Iraq. I will be forever in the debt of my DIs for making me the Marine that I am and giving me the knowledge and muscle memory to protect myself and others in combat.

Leave a comment