BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — Three Marine recruits have died on Parris Island in the past 18 months.
The latter led to criminal charges against one of the men whose job it is to train Marines and prepare them for combat.
Dalton Beals’ mom, Stacey, wanted him to go to college, not the Marine Corps. But she loved him and supported his dream until her death.
Bills was just 19 years old and went through “The Crucible,” a grueling workout at the end of his time at Parris Island.
He had hyperthermia, an abnormally high body temperature. He got lost from his platoon and was not found for over an hour when it was already late.
Now his drill instructor is Staff Sgt. Stephen Smiley now faces six different charges, including manslaughter.
The Marine Corps report said that while Smiley was qualified to serve as a drill instructor, he “lacked the maturity, temperament or leadership skills to be effective.”
The report said Private Bills’ death was “probably avoidable” and added that Smiley failed to take into account the extreme weather conditions during the exercise.
“It’s been a long wait and there’s still a long way to go,” Stacey Beals told News 3. “Hopefully justice is served for more than just Dalton.” My mission is to bring about change in the army.”
“We need our soldiers to stop dying because of their own military negligence and carelessness. They deserve better.”
Dalton was the third recruit to die on Parris Island in the past 18 months.
Pvt. Anthony Munoz died in an apparent suicide in September 2021. Private First Class Brandon Barnish died just three weeks later.
Investigations into these deaths are ongoing.
“There’s command and control, there’s oversight of these recruits,” said Craig Drummond, a veterans and criminal defense attorney. “Oversight is there to protect those recruits and to protect those instructors and drill leaders. If we don’t have that control. no one is protected.”
“The safeguards, the policies, the procedures are all unique to military training,” Drummond continued. “I see no problem with the Marine Corps and the Navy pursuing and investigating this case.”
Craig Drummond is a veteran criminal defense attorney himself.
Although he was not directly involved in this case, he had seen others like it before. He believes that indicting the drill instructor is a step in the right direction.
“I can only hope that there are positive things here. Other incidents like this are avoided because the command takes this approach,” Drummond said. “Whether we have the right individuals to be prosecuted will be determined down the line.”
The question is where does this responsibility begin and end?
It wasn’t until 2018 that Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty, false official statements and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Artillery sergeant Joseph Felix was found guilty of hazing and bullying recruits. all in connection with the recruitment death of Raheel Siddiqui.
Siddiqui died after jumping from a three-story building on the base. An investigation found that his suicide was the result of hazing and mistreatment of recruits by staff. Felix allegedly punched Siddiqui before he died
Since then, the base has been under different command and may be looking to change the culture.
Brigadier General Walker Field himself decided to charge Sgt. Manslaughter emoticon.
“That tells me we don’t have a rubber-stamp leader,” Drummond said. “Something comes in front of you and just signs. They say that not immediately. I think that shows that they actually read it.”
Smiley faces six charges before a high court-martial.
He faces three years on the manslaughter charge alone.
The deaths of Barnish and Muñas are still under investigation.
News 3 has requested an update from Parris Island on both of these cases.