Three Hawaii Marines have been charged with multiple offenses ranging from assault and maltreatment to violation of orders and dereliction of duty for alleged hazing leading up to the April 3 death of fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Harry Lew in Afghanistan, officials said today.
Lew, 21, committed suicide April 3 after being hazed by two other Marine lance corporals, the Marine Corps Times said, citing an investigation into the death.
The Marines are assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay.
The Marine Corps Times said the alleged hazing happened after Lew had fallen asleep several times while manning a guard post in southern Afghanistan.
NBC News reported that according to the investigation, Lew, of Santa Clara, Calif., put the muzzle of his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Lew had written on his arm, "may hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I’m sorry my mom deserves the truth," NBC said.
Lt. Col. Curtis L. Hill, director of public affairs at Marine Forces Pacific at Camp Smith, said in an email to the Star-Advertiser Wednesday that “the Marine Corps does not tolerate hazing of any kind.”
Hill said today those charged July 11 and the accusations are:
Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III, 22, violation of a lawful order for wrongfully humiliating and demeaning Lew; dereliction for willfully failing to supervise and ensure the welfare of the Marines under his care; cruelty and maltreatment for ordering Lew to do push-ups, side planks, leg lifts with a sandbag, while wearing full personal protective equipment and pouring sand onto his face.
Orozco also is charged with assault for unlawfully striking Lew by stomping on his back with his foot and kicking Lew’s head while Lew was wearing a Kevlar helmet.
Sgt. Benjamin E. Johns, 26, violation of a lawful order for wrongfully humiliating and demeaning Lew, and dereliction for willfully failing to supervise and ensure the welfare of the Marines under his care.
Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Jacoby, 21, violation of a lawful order for wrongfully abusing, humiliating and demeaning Lew; assault for unlawfully striking Lew in the back with his foot; assault for unlawfully kicking Lew in the head while Lew was wearing a Kevlar helmet; assault for striking Lew in the head with a closed fist while Lew wore a helmet.
Jacoby also is charged with communicating a threat to Lew that he was going to receive a beating, which “was to the prejudice of good order and discipline or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
An Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian preliminary hearing, tentatively is scheduled for Sept. 8 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Hill said.
Recommendations will be made by a hearing officer as to what charges, if any, the three Marines should face at a court-martial trial.