A drill sergeant who admitted that some Aberdeen Proving Ground instructors made a game out of their conquests of female trainees pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct yesterday and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
But the sentence of Staff Sgt. Wayne Gamble was substantially lighter than the three-year prison term he had accepted in a plea agreement with prosecutors -- a change credited to his remorseful testimony.
Gamble, 37, of Manning, S.C., was convicted on 22 counts, including having sex with 11 female trainees, adultery and sodomy. Admitting his role, he said he was sorry to have brought shame to the military and his family.
"What I did was wrong, straight up wrong, and I'm truly sorry for it," Gamble, a former instructor at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School, said, glancing at his family in the courtroom while wiping his eyes. "I let a whole lot of people down."
Gamble also was reduced in rank to private, given a dishonorable discharge and had his pay suspended.
Gamble had accepted a plea agreement that would have sent him to jail for three years in exchange for pleading guilty to most of the charges against him. Sources close to the investigation said Gamble also implicated others in the misconduct scandal.
Last month, Gamble was ordered to testify at the trial of Staff Sgt. Vernell Robinson. He testified that he, Robinson and others made a game of selecting potential sexual partners from the young women who arrived at the post, fresh from basic training, for three months of advanced schooling. Robinson was convicted of 19 counts, including sodomy, assault and adultery, and was sentenced to six months in jail.
"People who I thought were my friends have turned their back on me because I'm now known as a snitch," said Gamble. "But, that's all right. At least I can sleep at night."
Capt. David Thomas, Army prosecutor, asked that Gamble be sentenced to prison for using trainees as "sexual playthings for his own gratification."
"APG is a military installation, not a college campus," Thomas said to Col. Joseph Neurauter, the military judge. "He was supposed to be acting like a drill sergeant, not acting like a gigolo, sleeping with every trainee he could get his hands on."
But Gamble's mother, sister and brother, Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Gamble, testified that he loved the military, felt guilty about his actions and wanted to start his life over for the sake of his son Tony, 13. "Wayne is no criminal," his mother, Essie Gamble, said, her voice breaking. "I'm just asking you to please have mercy on my son."
Thomas C. Morrow, Gamble's civilian attorney, read a statement in which Gamble apologized to each of the privates involved in the charges.
Moments later, Gamble's estranged wife, Marilyn Gamble, 35, of Richmond, Va., yelled from the gallery, "He apologized to everyone but his own wife. He didn't apologize to me."
"I think the sentence was too light," Mrs. Gamble, who has been married to the drill sergeant for seven years and is seeking a divorce, said later.
Morrow said he believed the sentence was fair. He credited Gamble's remorseful testimony and his relatives' pleas for the shortened prison time.
"I think Sergeant Gamble evidenced his remorse and total admission of responsibility," Morrow said. "Once he got up on the stand, I think he really showed his depth of remorse."
Twelve soldiers have been charged in the sexual misconduct scandal at Aberdeen, including Gamble and Robinson.
Pub Date: 6/24/97