An infantry battalion commander abruptly fired in the middle of a deployment in 2018 had acted unprofessionally by pretending a M242 bushmaster chain gun was his penis, and for years used derogatory slurs that LBGTQ people could find offensive, a command investigation found.
Lt. Col. Marcus J. Mainz, fired in the middle of a deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in May 2018, admitted to violating an order limiting alcohol consumption, unprofessional and immature behavior and years of derogatory slurs.
An equal opportunity complaint had been filed against Mainz, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, for using the word “f-ggoty," which led to a Marine Corps investigation.
That incident happened in a formation with staff noncommissioned officers and officers from the 2/6 Battalion Landing Team discussing how to reduce MEU liberty incidents, according to the command investigation acquired by Marine Corps Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Mainz had called the meeting aboard the Amphibious Assault Ship Iwo Jima following several liberty incidents on the deployment, including vandalism during a port call visit by the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock New York in Gaeta, Italy, and another where a 2/6 staff sergeant with called a platoon commander “my n-ggah," the investigation said.
The commander discussed with the senior Marines how to end the incidents, including a genuine enforcement of the “0-0-1-3” drinking order the MEU had instituted, which required Marines to drink responsibly by having zero alcohol-related incidents, participating in zero drinking games, only consuming one drink an hour and consuming no more than three drinks a night, according to slides attached to the investigation.
Mainz then told his Marines about when he violated the order by sharing bottles of wine with a commanding officer from the aviation element of the MEU while in Haifa, Israel.
After recounting the story, Mainz had said something like “now that I think about it, that sounds kind of f-ggoty," according to the investigation.
Mainz was abruptly relieved of command in May 2018 by the commander of Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade as the 26th MEU was operating in the 5th fleet area of operations, which covers the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and the Horn of Africa.
The MEU had just wrapped up Eager Lion exercises in Jordan.
The investigation said Mainz’s use of a slur in front of his Marines was not an isolated incident but part of a “clear pattern over the past 22 months of using offensive language,” dating back to when Mainz took over 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
Mainz used the slurs as an attempt at “shock humor” that would help him connect to his Marines, the investigation wrote.
A command climate survey from before the deployment, multiple comments showed Marines complaining about the commander’s lack of professionalism and worries he would embarrass the unit and the Corps.
“He is a ‘media bomb’ waiting to happen,” an Marine replied anonymously in the survey. Another said sexual harassment was not tolerated in the unit “withstanding homosexual criticism.”
"Making fun of homosexual, transgender, black and female Marines is a daily occurrence,” another Marine wrote. “I would say that would say that work at this unit would be bearable if there was respect and for each Marine and sailor that works here, but that is not the case.”
The best way to improve the unit’s morale would be to “remove the CO before the media is informed and the Marine Corps suffers another embarrassment," one Marine said in the survey.
Mainz read the command survey and attempted to grow from it, Mainz told investigators, informing his chain of command of the results. He gave them the opportunity to officially reprimand him and asked his subordinates to correct him whenever he used similar language in the future.
The correction attempts failed, according to the investigators, who said Mainz, “either refuses to change his language or is incapable of change.”
In addition to using derogatory language based on sexual orientation, the investigation alleged that Mainz warned his Marines against “greedy Jews" before they were given liberty in Haifa, Israel.
Mainz used the phrase to warn about local merchants potentially overcharging, according to his interview with investigators, adding that he said it no differently than he would have said “greedy Arab” or “greedy American.”
The investigation also alleged that Mainz’s inappropriateness went beyond just words, but was clear in personal actions and the way Mainz led and organized the battalion.
In a staff meeting shortly after Mainz took command, the investigation wrote that Mainz told his Marines he was their commander and was there for them, then used “his hand to pantomime oral sex."
While on the deployment, Mainz allegedly stood behind a M242 Bushmaster chain gun pretending the gun was his penis and asked Marines if they had seen “Happy Gilmore," the investigation said.
During the intro to “Happy Gilmore,” actor Adam Sandler is seen multiple times sticking items like a baton, mop and gas hose between his legs and thrusting his hips.
Mainz said he also liked to reference “Scary Movie” by telling Marines, “I don’t give a f*ck” when they came to him with problems. Mainz told investigators it “struck a chord with the Marines.”
But at least one Marine took Mainz’s response seriously, saying that whenever junior Marines would bring an issue to the commander it "goes in one ear and out the other.”
“It’s clear that (he) does not, in fact, ‘give a f*ck.’”
Marines were “unfairly and publicly critiqued by the Battalion’s senior-most leadership in public forums and wildly inappropriate manners," another Marine wrote in the command survey.
Mainz had started a series of meetings seemingly influenced by the ancient Spartans, using Greek names, like Gerosuia, Ephors and Apella.
At the Gerosuia meeting, Mainz would hold a “tribal council” along with the battalion’s sergeant major, executive officer, operations chief, gunner, company commanders, company first sergeants, other staff officers and a single corporal known as the “Spartan corporal."
The Marines present at the regularly held meetings would then discuss issues within the battalion, move staff noncommissioned officers and officers around the battalion and occasionally “rack and stack,” or rank from first to worst the battalion’s lieutenants, according to the investigation.
The meetings were meant to promote leadership and decision-making, Mainz told investigators, teaching junior officers how to be battalion commanders.
But the investigator said in the report that discussing the first sergeant assignments and ranking lieutenants from best to worst in front of corporals and other nonessential staff officers and staff noncommissioned officers was “inappropriate.”
“I have serious concerns about the appropriateness and impact of the BLT 2/6 ‘Gerosuia’ meets on good order and discipline,” the investigator wrote.
The investigation ultimately found that Mainz “blatantly disregarded professional etiquette in the execution of his duties as battalion commander,” and “failed to ‘cultivate a climate and culture of dignity, respect and trust,' as required.”
Mainz retired from the Marine Corps Oct. 31, Yvonne Carlock, a spokeswoman with Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs, told Marine Corps Times.
Marine Corps Times has not yet been able to reach Mainz for comment.