This is an article I hate writing about but I try to be reasonable and fair so if a Marine has disgraced the Marine Corps then I’m not going to try and hide it.
I have to admit though, it is a little hard to not question the difference between the sentence handed down to this Marine and the sentence recently handed down in the Bergdahl case.
Before I get to the sentence this Marine received I’ll tell you what he was charged with and convicted of. I have some mixed feelings about what this Marine has been convicted of, but it does sound as though he may have gone too far.
Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Fellix, a 34-year-old Iraq War veteran who was assigned to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island as a Drill Instructor, was recently charged and convicted of a dozen or so criminal violations for abusing recruits.
The abuse involved such things as:
- Making them drink chocolate milk then exercising them until they puked.
- Putting a Muslim Recruit in the dryer and running it until he renounced his religion.
- Having a Muslim Recruit simulate beheading another Recruit while saying “God is great” in Arabic.
- Waking Recruits at night and making them lay on the floor while he walked on them.
- making the recruits choke each other.
- punching them.
- slapping them.
- berating them.
- Kicking them
There were about a dozen other Drill Instructors charged but none were as serious as the charges GYSgt. Felix faced.
I can only assume that he took some of these things way too far because I can look at that list of charges and can check off all but a couple of them happening to me when I was in Boot Camp about 4 decades ago. 🙂
Marine Corps Boot Camp is not supposed to be like any other experience or basic training like the other services experience. Historically Marines are called on to do more with less under the most extreme circumstances. If having a Drill Instructor punch you in the gut, kick you in your butt, slap you in the back of the head, or God forbid berate you with “offensive” names troubles you then you are in the wrong place to begin with and you should probably start looking for a way out.
One of the things mentioned above brought back some fond memories. As the days started getting hotter on Parris Island, I guess the Drill Instructors were told to make sure we drank plenty of water to avoid any heat related emergencies.
Well, one afternoon after lunch, one of the Drill Instructors decided he should err on the side of caution and supervise us recruits drinking water. We all had to hold a canteen full of water in front of us and when told drink it all. When we were done we had to hold the canteen out in front of us upside down for inspection. We were then PT’d, that’s exercise for the civilians until we were good and tired. We then had to grab our 2nd canteen of the two we all had to keep on us and had to repeat the above. A couple recruits lost their lunch on the 2nd round. Long story short I can’t remember how many times we filled those canteens, emptied them in our mouths, PT, drink repeat until all but a few of us were looking at vomit directly under our faces.
It was miserable at the time to be sure, but to this day I understand the importance of staying hydrated and get a good laugh out of thinking about that.
Drill Instructors are masters of the mind f&^k and conditioning a Marine’s mind is just as important if not more important that conditioning their body. I don’t care how physically fit you are, if you break down and cry every time someone yells at you or get offended every time someone insults you then you are as worthless as a sloth sitting in the corner shoveling a bucket of lard in his mouth.
The investigation began after a Muslim Recruit jumped from the 3rd floor of a barracks killing himself. He did this apparently because he could not take the Drill Instructor calling him a terrorist and making fun of his faith. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t imagine if one of our Muslim-American’s were to get captured by ISIS in the Middle East that they would be all that kind to them. They would more than likely be subjected to a whole lot of ridicule and a slow painful death.
You can call me anything you want, I’m NOT going to jump from anything higher than the curb.
While not a fan of the absolute “NO Hazing” policy in the Marine Corps today, I am also NOT a fan of any Marine that does not know what is appropriate hazing or what an appropriate gut check is and gets so carried away to the point where people are being hospitalized or having cast put on their limbs.
I’m pretty confident that this Gunny took things too far though since there was a court martial proceeding and he apologized to those he hurt.
This is one of those situations though where people, military and civilian alike, will look at the punishment handed down and compare it to the Bowe Bergdahl sentencing and think “what the hell?”
Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit in a combat zone, got captured within minutes of walking off base, then others were injured and killed looking for and trying to rescue him. After five years we trade five of the worst terrorist we were holding in captivity for him.
When his court martial is over he is sentenced to no prison time, reduced in rank to Private and sent home. And to add insult to injury, the government actually feels like they have to consider if they are going to give him several hundred thousands dollars in POW and back pay.
Compare the Bergdahl punishment to GYSgt Felix who is now Private Felix, has to pay a fine, forfeit his pay, serve TEN years in prison, then go home with a Dishonorable Discharge.
I’d like to hear how you feel about these sentences. Personally, I think they got it backwards.
Any officer can get by on his sergeants. To be a sergeant you have to know your stuff. I’d rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.
—SgtMaj Daniel Daly 1873-1937