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Parris Island Recruit Attacked Comrade, Will Be Separated from Corps

Drill instructors present their new Marines with Eagle, Globe and Anchors during the emblem ceremony Sept. 7, 2013, at the Iwo Jima flag raising statue on Parris Island, S.C. (Photo by Lance Cpl. MaryAnn Hill)
Drill instructors present their new Marines with Eagle, Globe and Anchors during the emblem ceremony Sept. 7, 2013, at the Iwo Jima flag raising statue on Parris Island, S.C. (Photo by Lance Cpl. MaryAnn Hill)

A Parris Island recruit is being separated from the Marine Corps after attacking a fellow recruit whose parents say he was in a wheelchair at the time.

The recruit, whom Parris Island officials declined to identify because of an ongoing investigation, was involved in an Easter Sunday incident in the depot's sick bay in which he attacked fellow recruit Morgan Brown, according to Brown's father, Bryan.

"An incident did occur on March 27 between two recruits assigned to Support Battalion," Marine spokesman Capt. Greg Carroll wrote in an email to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette on Thursday morning.

The "offender," Carroll said, "is being processed for separation from the Marine Corps for his disciplinary infractions."

Carroll confirmed Morgan Brown is currently a recruit on Parris Island and that the medical rehabilitation platoon is a unit of Support Battalion. But Carroll declined to provide further details about the incident -- including whether Brown was involved in it -- because the matter is still under investigation.

"A command investigation was conducted to determine the facts surrounding the incident," Carroll said. "The two recruits involved are now in separate units, and administrative action was taken by the chain of command against the offender as a result of the incident."

Bryan Brown said Wednesday that his son, Morgan, was in the depot's rehabilitation platoon nursing a stress fracture to his hip when the alleged attack occurred.

The attack, according to the elder Brown, knocked his son unconscious and left him with three facial fractures.

Bryan Brown, 47, a Virginia National Guard veteran, said his son continues to send letters home as he recovers. His letters indicate the attacker was initially returned to the same barracks, where he continued to intimidate Brown and other recruits.

The elder Brown is concerned for his son's health.

Bryan Brown said the Marine Corps did not notify the family of the attack. Brown said he learned of the incident from his son in an April 4 letter the 20-year-old Mechanicsville, Va., native wrote to his parents that arrived April 6.

"And it would have been sooner," Brown said, "but my son was not well enough to write."

Brown said he hasn't seen the injuries to his son's face.

"I was able to speak to him for the first time in a very long time (May 3) only because he was in consultation with a victims' advocate," Brown said.

His son informed him that he had a "constant headache on the right side of his face," "numbness" and that "his jaw is still not properly lining up."

According to Brown, his son was attacked after he tried to break up an escalating verbal altercation between two other recruits. One of the recruits told the younger Brown something to the effect of: "You don't know who I am. You don't know who you're messing with."

"So my son backed away," the elder Brown said. "And when I say backed away, I mean backed away in his wheelchair. He went to his footlocker to retrieve a book and read."

That's the last thing his son remembers, Brown said, until he was awakened by the rehabilitation platoon's drill instructor after the attack.

Brown said his son had been in the rehabilitation platoon since March 3, when a drill instructor in Brown's training platoon -- 1025 of 1st Recruit Training Battalion's Alpha Company -- noticed him limping and sent him to be evaluated. It turned out his son had a stress fracture in his hip, an injury sustained during a training run, Brown said.

Parris Island officials called Morgan Brown's parents to inform them of that injury and notify them their son would be moved to the rehabilitation platoon, Bryan Brown said.

But the Browns said they were not notified of their son's injuries after the Easter Sunday attack.

After reading his son's letter on April 6, Bryan Brown said he called his son's recruiter, who in turn called Parris Island. A captain from the depot called Brown later that day and informed him of the injuries and said the matter was under investigation, Brown said.

In a letter dated April 22 and shared by the family with the newspapers on May 4, Morgan Brown wrote to his parents that he "sat in on the NJP" -- a nonjudicial punishment, a disciplinary action the U.S. Navy defines as less serious than a court martial -- "as a witness to it, so, yes, something has now actually happened."

Brown wrote that his attacker would get "only 7 days pay for a month" and the NJP would be "on his record forever ... saying he has assaulted someone."

A string of incidents

The alleged attack is the latest in a string of incidents this year at Parris Island that has seen the dismissal of a battalion commander and the death of a recruit.

Recruit Raheel Siddiqui died March 18, just 11 days after arriving at Parris Island. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating his death. According to NICS, he died after an almost 40-foot fall during recruit training. An NCIS investigator said in an email Wednesday that the investigation into the death is continuing.

While NCIS continues to say no foul play is suspected, a congresswoman has written a letter to the country's highest-ranking Marine to express concerns about hazing.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, requested a written response by April 18 but still hasn't received one.

In her letter, the congresswoman inquired about the dismissal of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon. She asked whether there was any indication of him "not being sensitive enough to the needs of recruits."

Kissoon was relieved of command following the results of an Inspector General of the Marine Corps investigation. The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette requested a copy of the investigation through the Freedom of Information Act, but that request was denied April 18.

Safety concerns

"We're very concerned for his safety and want to know what the course of action for him is," said Mary Vail Ware, Morgan Brown's aunt who works in the Virginia state attorney general's office.

Ware and the Browns have contacted various Virginia politicians about the attack, and Ware has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for an IGMC investigation pertaining to the incident.

Bryan Brown said he's made contact with other Marines and their family members on a private Facebook group. Some of those people, he said, have been able to corroborate the details of his son's letters.

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