Allegations of Hazing Inside Marines' Silent Drill Platoon; NCIS Investigating

The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon marches in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on their way to perform for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., April 13, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)
The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon marches in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on their way to perform for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., April 13, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)

One of the most high-profile platoons in the Marine Corps is under investigation for allegations of hazing, resulting in five Marines being sent to pretrial confinement.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is looking into hazing claims involving members of the Silent Drill Platoon, which is based at Marine Barracks Washington. The case was turned over to NCIS by the Marine Corps, according to a news release from the barracks issued Tuesday.

The command was made aware of the allegations Oct. 31 and immediately began an investigation, according to a Marine official with knowledge of the incident. By Friday, the investigation had been turned over to NCIS, added the official, who spoke to Military.com on the condition of anonymity.

"As far as why, at this point in time due to the fact that it's an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to give out any specifics about why," the official said. "It remains an open investigation with NCIS."

Five Marines were sent to pretrial confinement as a result of the investigation. One of those Marines has since been released and is back at the barracks, the official said. The four remaining in pretrial confinement have initial hearings scheduled this week.

Marine Barracks Washington is cooperating with the NCIS investigation, according to the release.

All of the Silent Drill Platoon's upcoming performances have been canceled.

"That decision was obviously not made lightly," the Marine official said. "... They definitely look forward to performing their drill expedition in the near future."

The Marine Corps expects all personnel to "to uphold the highest standards of conduct," the release states.

"The Marines at the Barracks take pride in their daily duties and their reputation in the community, which was demonstrated in September when Marines helped first responders rescue and provide aid for our neighbors when an apartment complex caught fire," it adds.

The hazing allegations come less than three years after a pattern of hazing and mistreatment was found at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina following the death of a 20-year-old recruit there.

The Marine Corps' Silent Drill Platoon, a 24-person team, performs for hundreds of thousands of spectators annually during events in Washington, D.C.; across the country; and abroad. The highly selective platoon is associated with discipline and professionalism.

Infantry Marines selected to serve with the Silent Drill Platoon typically complete two-year tours at Marine Barracks Washington.

This summer, about 100 Marines from the barracks made dozens of trips into and out of a building that was on fire in Washington, D.C. The Marines helped evacuate bedridden and paralyzed seniors from their apartment complex as it burned.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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