SAN DIEGO Under the glare of overhead fluorescent lights and the watchful stares of a jury of superiors, young Marines told a military court of abuse they say happened at the hands of their junior drill instructor.
Choked. Kicked. Slapped. Jabbed in the neck. Punched in the face. Hit on the head with a flashlight.
Bruised and beaten with a tent pole. Ordered to drink two, three, even four canteens of water just minutes after eating dinner, and then lie in their own vomit.
In recounting the actions of their DI, some of the young leathernecks testifying Wednesday at Sgt. Jerrod Glass? general court-martial prefaced what happened to them by explaining that they weren?t fast enough, moved too slowly, had lost gear, were confused or unprepared, even looked where they shouldn?t have looked.
To prosecutors, Glass? ?brutal? actions against nearly every member of recruit training Platoon 2167 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego amounted to abuse and mistreatment, violations of the Corps? standard operating procedures for recruit training. To Glass? defense attorneys, the drill instructor?s alleged actions fell short of outright violations and were implicitly known and condoned by his supervisors.
The trial of Glass, a 25-year-old military policeman and two-tour Iraq combat veteran, began Tuesday at the San Diego recruit depot and might last two weeks.
Now a military jury of six men three officers and three senior staff noncommissioned officers will decide whether he is guilty of the allegations. If so, the jury would decide if he should be punished in any way, up to 11 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.
When he was charged, Glass faced 225 separate counts after an investigation found 110 ?factual? incidents. On the trial?s eve, both sides and the judge, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Meeks, agreed to consolidate the charges into 10 counts incorporating the gist of the earlier allegations: Two counts of assault, two counts of cruelty and maltreatment, four counts of destroying personal property and two counts of failure to obey a lawful order.
The allegations against Glass, a Phoenix native who was assigned to 2nd Recruit Training Battalion?s Hotel Company, and two other members of his DI team, have rocked the recruit depot since the allegations arose in early February.
The lead prosecutor, Capt. Christian Pappas, described how Glass was ?a star? at Drill Instructor School, ?one of the best students.? Glass should have known about the rules, Pappas argued.
?He was taught, he was counseled ... to keep his hands off of recruits, not to jeopardize his career.?
Recruit training is guided by a depot order, a voluminous standard operating procedure that dictates just about every facet of boot camp. The rules restrict physical contact that a DI can have with his recruits, and limitations usually hinge on simple corrections or safety situations.
But soon after picking up Platoon 2167 on Dec. 23, 2006, Pappas told the court in opening arguments, Glass ?continued to torment and bully? the recruits for nearly two months. ?Nearly every member of that 40-man platoon was assaulted, abused, maltreated,? he said.
Not so, argued Glass? defense attorneys.
?He was firm. He was demanding and even exacting of these recruits because that was his job,? Capt. Patrick Callahan argued in his opening statement. ?His job was not to be nice ... He did it within the confines of the SOP.?
Callahan contended that the sergeant acted on his role as fourth hat known as the ?kill hat? within the DI team training 2167. Glass ?was told: You are the kill hat. This is your responsibility. You need to do whatever you need to do ? even if that means violating the recruit training SOP,? he argued.
Callahan said that some of the allegations are unsubstantiated, and while others may seem harsh actions, ?that does not mean those things are violations of the SOP.?
Two other DIs on the team Sgt. Robert C. Hankins and Sgt. Brian M. Wendel have refused to testify at Glass? trial. Hankins and Wendel are facing special courts-martial, which carry lesser punishment, on separate charges related to the alleged incidents. A fourth DI, Sgt. Joseph Villagomez, received administrative
The Nuremberg defense is not going to work here and he is not going to slide using it. Too many allegations too much evidence
The following is from experience over 20 year ago but I believe it still applies:
Drill Instructor Duty is one of the most political assignments in the Corps and is like walking a tightrope over a minefield. It was the worse assignment I had in the Corps.
Drill Instructors have to balance the Marine Corps over-reactions to incidents like Ribbon Creek or the McClure kid (SP?) and following the SOP for Recruit Training (With all the Depot inspectors and officers trying/hoping to catch somebody violating the SOP so they can say they are enforcing it) against the competing demands of their Senior Drill Instructors to produce a highly disciplined platoon that scores well and will get him that meritorious promotion and the Drill Instructors own desire to turn out well trained Marines.
You also have the maneuvering to land a less stressful job like that Academic Instruction Unit or Physical Training Unit. It was a heck of lot safer and saner in the Fleet Marine Force where loyalty to the Corps and fellow Marines was returned by loyalty from the Corps and fellow Marines. Semper Fi meant something in the FMF and there was no guilty till proven innocent mentality and rare was the Marine that would throw his fellow Marine under a bus to advance his career. Not so at the Recruit Training Regiment. When I was there JAG put out that they believed 95% of all allegations against Drill Instructors were true
No Drill Instructor has ever avoided violating the SOP. You were going to violate it and sometimes it was built in to the system. Examples: reveille was at 0500 . No recruit could be out of his bunk before that yet at the same time you might be scheduled to be at the Chow hall at 0500 or have lien turn in at 0500. You do the math. You also might cuss, or lose track of time during some incentive training. By the same token the SOP was ignored when it came to the time off Drill instructors were supposed to get-1 day of duty 24 hours, 1 day of standby (approx.18hours) and 1 day off. Since most teams rarely had 4 Drill instructors and many Battalion SOPS specified all Drill Instructs be present of things like PT and the Rifle Range it was never followed.
All that being said a I look at the allegations against this Drill Instructor I would say that he went way over the line and violated a principle some had the Drill Field- No recruit or chance at meritorious promotion is worth your career. There are some things even DIPS (Drill Instructor Protective Society) can save you from.
� 1998 -