Lawmaker: 2nd Parris Island Death 'Raises Serious Questions'

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)

With one recruit in critical condition and another dead in separate incidents within a week of each other at Parris Island, South Carolina, a Michigan lawmaker is calling on the Marine Corps to provide information about what happened, saying she is committed to 'getting to the root of the issue.'

Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, said in a statement that she wants a quick and complete investigation into the two most recent incidents.

"I want the facts on Friday's tragedy, but the loss of a second recruit raises serious questions. I am committed to getting to the root of this issue," she said. "The men and women who sign up to serve our country should not be dying in boot camp, and this third incident within eight months must be investigated thoroughly and expeditiously."

The death of a Marine recruit Nov. 4 after he was found unconscious in his bed is the second tragic death of a recruit this year.

His name was Zachary R. Boland, 18, said Capt. Gregory Carroll, a spokesman for Parris Island. He was assigned to 2nd Recruit Training Battalion and was pronounced dead just after 9:30 p.m. at Beaufort Memorial Hospital after being discovered an hour and a half before.

"The command has directed an investigation regarding this incident per standard operating procedures," Carroll said. "The investigation is ongoing."

In March, Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui, 20, died by suicide after jumping from the third story of a building at 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, an incident that was found to be prompted by Siddiqui's abuse at the hands of a drill instructor who berated and slapped him.

Siddiqui was a constituent of Dingell's, and she made multiple inquiries to the Marine Corps on behalf of his family as the Corps investigated his death and evidence of hazing within his unit.

Boland's death comes just a week after another recruit fell from the second floor of a building at Parris Island and was severely injured Oct. 29, an incident that NCIS officials have said appears to be a suicide attempt.

That recruit has not been publicly identified, but multiple sources confirmed to Military.com his name was Kristian Gashaj, the son of Albanian immigrants. According to a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for his medical expenses, Gashaj is 18 and from Sterling Heights Michigan, and is now on life support with a 5-percent chance of survival.

Marine officials say the investigations indicated the culture of hazing and abuse was limited to 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, one of four training battalions at Parris Island. Some 20 drill instructors, officers, and senior leaders are expected to face punishment for perpetuating or enabling the hazing of recruits, and several are likely to face criminal charges. Those actions have yet to be announced.

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

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