Military Deaths by Hazing



St. John’s University (New York)

Pershing Rifles

Bayonet stabbing during hazing incident

ROTC pledge Thomas Fitzgerald, a student at another school (Queens College), who had applied for admission into the elite St. John’s chapter, was accidentally impaled by a bayonet blade during a stunt meant merely to intimidate him.Police said James Savino wielded the deadly blade. School and military officials refused to call the incident hazing, referring to it euphemistically as “unauthorized training.” Alcohol use not cited in press reports.


Navy Hazing

Crossing the Line ceremony

Hazing with electricity

Seaman Russell Barnwell Wiebye died in “a playful initiation” in which an electric current was administered to shock him.


Military Hazing

Crossing the Line ceremony


Shipfitter 2C Jack P. Jarosz died while touching an electrified trident during the King Neptune portion of his hazing for the U.S. Navy, according to the San Bernardino (CA) County Sun (April 3, 1946). He was also kneeling on an electric plate charged with 115 volts of electrical charge. No surprise: A lieutenant was cleared of wrongdoing by Navy Brass. See Richmond Palladium Item, October 3, 1946.



Military Hazing

Dunking ceremony for new National Guard member


SPL 4C Walter R. Van Vickle screamed “I can’t swim” as five veterans stripped him and threw him into deep water. The five were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The National Guard declined to order a court martial for the five.



Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Unofficial Officers Club initiation

Alcohol-related suffocation death

An alcoholic concoction made up of seven bottles of champagne and five bottles of vodka resulted in the death of paratrooper Lt. Robert Reeves, 23, of Charleston, S.C. His comrades were initiating him to celebrate his first qualified jump.


United States Marines

Hazing Suicide after mental and physical abuse.

Lance Corporal Harry Lew was a suicide by a self-inflicted wound after fellow Marines punished him for falling asleep on sentry duty. A judge punished participants but found cause to doubt that the hazing was directly responsible for Lew taking his life. Adam Holcomb was found not guilty.


United States Marines

Suicide after Physical hazing

Chinese-American Danny Chen allegedly was targeted for hazing in his outfit and killed himself.



United States Marines

Muslim dies following reports of heavy hazing

Recruit Raheel Sidiqui death reported by New York Times Magazine.


Green Beret,

Involuntary homicide during a hazing punishment session

Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Green Beret, stopped breathing while being taped and beaten by comrades in Mali. The first was sentenced in June 2019 to one year in prison. One perpetrator later behaved in a creepy manner with the widow. Thank you to Lt. Col Dan for your correction.