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Marine staff noncommissioned officers charged with hazing

Jun. 14, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Two South Carolina-based staff noncommissioned officers have been charged with violating the Marine Corps’ order on hazing and maltreatment and will face special courts-martial in coming months, officials said Friday.

Gunnery Sgt. James McArthur, an air traffic controller with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., was charged May 20 with violating the service’s order on hazing, said Capt. Jordan Cochran, a Marine spokesman in Beaufort. McArthur faces charges related to violating orders, maltreatment and obstructing justice.

Staff Sgt. Justin Samford, an air traffic controller in the same unit, also faces charges related to hazing, Cochran said. He is charged with violating orders, maltreatment, falsifying an official statement and assault.

McArthur’s arraignment was held on Friday, and his special court-martial was scheduled for Aug. 27 to 29. Samford’s arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

The charges stem from an investigation launched Dec. 12 when a Marine in their chain of command alleged mistreatment, according to a Marine Corps news release. Col. Brian Murtha, the air station’s commanding officer, initiated the investigation after the complaint arose. It was completed by the Criminal Investigative Division.

Cochran could not provide details about the allegations, but said all leaders aboard the air station are entrusted with ensuring every Marine is treated with dignity, care and respect.

“Every incident of hazing will be investigated with appropriate disciplinary action initiated against the perpetrators and those in the chain of command who condone such practices by inaction or neglecting to investigate suspected incidents,” Cochran said. “Hazing will not be tolerated in any form in our Marine Corps.”

The issue of hazing in the military grabbed headlines in 2012 following two suicides — one involving a Marine and one a soldier — during separate deployments to Afghanistan. Congress held hearings with top leaders from all of the services, and the Defense Department was tasked with compiling data on hazing-related statistics in order to get a sense for how widespread the problem is.

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