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Sailor ordered recruits to sing children's songs, pleads guilty to hazing

Sep. 12, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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A newly qualified recruit division commander at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Ill. pleaded guilty to hazing recruits — ordering them to sing, dance and recite nursery rhymes — and received nonjudicial punishment Tuesday, Navy personnel officials confirmed early Thursday.

The machinist’s mate first class — whose name was not released by Navy officials, citing privacy concerns — will be returned to the fleet, minus half a month’s pay for two months and under a “suspended bust” to E-5. If the sailor stays out of trouble for the next six months, he’ll retain his E-6 paygrade.

“Instructor misconduct towards recruits is contrary to our core values and is a violation of our training protocol,” Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, head of Naval Service Training Command, said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “RTC’s training evolutions, recruit taskings or corrective measures have a direct correlation to the professional and mental development of our recruits — deviating from our standard procedures is unauthorized and unacceptable.”

The incident took place May 12 in the recruit barracks called USS Triton, officials said. A recruit reported it the next day, and the RDC was removed from training pending an investigation.

The investigation was completed June 20 and substantiated the allegations, including that the RDC:

■ Ordered a recruit to sing the children’s song “Itsy Bitsy Spider” while also performing what the Navy described as a “Soldier Boy” dance.

■ Ordered two recruits to stand on one foot and wave an arm, singing “I’m a Little Teapot.”

■ Ordered two recruits to recite the “Jack and Jill” nursery rhyme.

■ Put a stick under the front edge of a recruit’s bed covers and told the recruits present not to allow it to fall.

■ Woke up two sleeping recruits, one by brushing dog tags across the recruit’s face and another by removing the recruit’s pillow.

The RDC was newly qualified and was training his first division, officials said; at the time of the incident, he was standing his first officer-of-the-deck watch in the division spaces at night.

“When allegations are substantiated, we are committed to determining the cause, holding appropriate individuals accountable, and implementing changes to policies or procedures, if warranted,” Mewbourne said in the statement. “Based on the findings of this investigation, the sailor was held accountable. Our focus now shifts to learning from his mistakes and finding ways to prevent future incidents from occurring.”

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