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Marine Update

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Foiled party plans led to hazing, Marines say

By LOUIS HANSEN, The Virginian-Pilot
© September 11, 2007

Norfolk

A busted plan for a Friday night party at a Marine Corps barracks in Yorktown led to a weekend of hazing and abuse, Marines testified Monday during a preliminary hearing.

Officers discovered large amounts of alcohol in the barracks June 1, and three noncommissioned officers are accused of reacting by depriving subordinate Marines of sleep, physically abusing them and ordering repeated inspections, according to testimony at the hearing at Norfolk Naval Station.

Lance Cpl. Andrew Simons testified that his former unit, the 2nd Fleet Anti-Terrorism Team, 5th Platoon, stood in formation for at least five hours, then were told to clean their rooms and undergo inspections, with little time for food or sleep, for two days.

Simons said he saw a defendant slap a Marine while the unit stood in formation. “It was excessive,” he said at the hearing. “It was just ridiculous.”

Defense attorneys argued that the Marines were allowed breaks to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom, and that actions by the defendants did not rise to the level of criminal charges.

Three Marines are charged in the incident: Cpl. Anthony Matthews, Cpl. Eric Forgacs and Sgt. Ray Kight.

They wore summer dress uniforms and sat stoically through the first four hours of testimony Monday.

Maj. Thomas Little, company commander, said he received a call Friday night about Marines buying large quantities of alcohol at the base store for the planned party. Little said he was concerned because the unit had had problems with underage Marines using fake IDs to buy alcohol.

Little testified that he stopped at the barracks and spotted more than a case of beer and several bottles of hard alcohol. He and other officers and enlisted personnel searched the barracks while the unit waited in formation.

After the inspection, Little said he ordered the platoon’s commanding officer, a captain, to show compassion for the Marines. When he learned about the alleged hazing the following Monday, he immediately began an investigation, he said.

Marine Corps Maj. David Ashe, the investigating officer, will file a report to an independent panel on the testimony within a few weeks. The panel will decide whether to order a court martial for the three accused Marines.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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