U.S. Navy Discharges 8 Sailors After Alleged Hazing Incident
Eight enlisted sailors aboard the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard have received general discharges from the Navy after being caught in a hazing incident. A young mariner requested medical attention for choking and other injuries from the ship’s doctor. The sailors were in the junior ranks and worked the flight deck and other general duties.
After starting in a new department on the ship, the sailor was involved in an incident that included wrestling, punching, choking and horsing around, according to a senior U.S. Navy official. The young man was reportedly choked out until a black out occurred and he sustained significant bruising.
USS Bonhomme Richard sailing in the Pacific Ocean
A video recording has surfaced that was taken by one of the now-discharged sailors. It shows the two men in blue camouflage vigorously wrestling in a dark room; one of the men is in a headlock. He eventually loses his balance, and falls out against a locker, ending the incident. The video does not show him losing consciousness, as he gets up and walks away on his own.
The ship’s captain has launched an investigation into the actual initiation of the fight after being told of the incident by the ship’s doctor. The sailors involved did own up to their involvement, but described the act as playful roughhousing. However, the Navy has a strict zero-tolerance hazing policy under which they were immediately discharged.
No names have been released related to this case. One sailor, Charlie Davis, did an interview with ABC10 News where he explained the attack as just play-wrestling, and said the same thing was done to him as a welcome aboard gesture. He feels the Navy policy is too harsh. All eight soldiers have the right to appeal their general discharges, but none has done so at this time. Since they did not receive dishonorable discharges, they will not lose their GI benefits and will still be able to say they served in the Navy.
The action follows recent congressional hearings on hazing in the military, including the case of Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, who shot himself in a foxhole in Afghanistan last year after he was beaten, forced to do repeated pushups and fed mouthfuls of sand. This initiation incident also occurred just two weeks before Democratic Rep. Judy Chu called for stronger measures to eliminate hazing.
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