WASHINGTON -- The senior enlisted Marine involved in one of the "blood pinning" incidents -- two gruesome videotaped displays of parachute pins being slammed into the chests of writhing Marines -- should be discharged from the military, his commanding general decided yesterday.
While the unnamed gunnery sergeant should be discharged, the eight other Marines and one sailor involved will receive punishments ranging from counseling to reprimands, said Maj. Gen. Patrick G. Howard, commander of the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
"Where the welfare of Marines is concerned, nothing less than the total commitment of every leader is acceptable," Howard said in a statement. "Leaders must be held responsible, therefore, they received the most severe sanctions."
Two other sergeants
Besides the gunnery sergeant, the two next-senior sergeants received a notation in their records, as well as counseling.
The decisions come five months after the videotapes were shown on television by CNN and NBC. The hazings had occurred in 1991 and 1993 at Camp Lejeune, a Marine training facility.
Graduates of the elite parachute course were videotaped with their faces contorted as their golden "jump pins," awarded for completing 10 jumps, were forcibly pinned into their chests.
Afterward, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, then in his first week on the job, ordered a services-wide investigation of blood pinning. Gen. Charles C. Krulak, the Marine Corps commandant, said at the time that he was "outraged," and he ordered a separate investigation, which resulted in yesterday's announcement. Krulak had no comment yesterday.
All those disciplined yesterday took part in the 1993 incident, Howard said. No names were released.
The case of the gunnery sergeant will be reviewed by an administrative board. If he has more than 18 years' service, he can request retirement in lieu of administrative discipline.
A notice in a Marine's record is intended to highlight "the deficiency," said the Marine statement, and would be considered in future decisions involving promotions, assignments and applications to officer programs.
In the 1991 incident, nine Marines have already received counseling and record entries, and a master gunnery sergeant has been recommended for discharge. A captain has also been recommended for discharge but has asked to retire instead, a Marine official said.
Discipline called 'ridiculous'
One retired Marine major, who received a "blood pinning" several years ago while stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., yesterday called the disciplinary action "ridiculous."
"It's OK to send men over to get shot at, but all of a sudden horrified by a little bit of blood," said the 42-year-old retiree, who made his 10 jumps after leading Marines on patrol in northern Iraq. He asked not to be named.
Pub Date: 7/12/97