Parris Island Retrains Officers, Hosts Discussions after Leaders Fired

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)

In the wake of the death of a recruit and the related firing of the two top leaders of Recruit Training Regiment at the Marines' East Coast boot camp, officers are undergoing new training on rules and procedures to head off future problems.

A spokesman for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, Capt. Gregory Carroll, said the March 18 death of 20-year-old recruit Raheel Siddiqui prompted a review of policies and procedures and spurred retraining of Parris Island personnel.

Col. Paul Cucinotta, the commanding officer of Recruit Training Regiment, and Sgt. Maj. Nicholas Dabreau, the unit’s top enlisted leader, were both relieved June 6. Officials said the two leaders were removed when an investigation related to Siddiqui’s death revealed that policies and procedures were not being properly followed.

"Leadership aboard Parris Island has engaged the officers and enlisted assigned to Recruit Training Regiment through various means to re-emphasize the importance for understanding and following established policies and procedures,” Carroll told Military.com. "These engagements have included but are not limited to group discussions, additional training and further evaluation of Marines entrusted with transforming recruits."

Recruit Training Regiment oversees all four recruit battalions at Parris Island, which trains half the men who enlist in the Marine Corps, and all the women.

The death of Siddiqui, a Muslim American from Taylor, Michigan, spurred a congressional inquiry from Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, over concerns that hazing was involved.

A June 6 response from Brig. Gen. David Furness, legislative assistant to the Corps' commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, had no details about the cause of Siddiqui’s death as it remained under investigation, but pledged to "carefully investigate" any indication of hazing.

Siddiqui reportedly fell 40 feet to his death from a barracks building. Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials told media outlets following the incident that foul play was not suspected.

Nabih Ayad, a Detroit-based lawyer representing Siddiqui’s family, told the Parris Island Packet that NCIS agents met with the late recruit's parents this week to discuss his mental health history. Ayad told the paper that Siddiqui fainted prior to his fall after being ordered to run back and forth repeatedly by a drill instructor. Ayad did not immediately return a call from Military.com.

The June 6 reliefs were the second set of firings to rock Parris Island in the span of three months. On March 31, the commander of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, was relieved in connection with a separate investigation. That investigation is also ongoing, and no further information has been released.

The current retraining initiatives come as Parris Island completes another leadership shake-up. Today, the recruit depot commander, Brig. Gen. Terry Williams, is scheduled to relinquish command to Brig. Gen. Austin Renforth in a scheduled rotation. Williams is set to go to the Pentagon as the assistant deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics. Officials with Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs said those plans have remained unchanged following the other reliefs.

Amid the shake-ups and investigations, recruit training continues at Parris Island.

"As always, Parris Island remains dedicated to professionally transforming recruits into United States Marines," Carroll said.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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