Marine Recruit Jason Robert Tharp Drowns

Jeff Quinton sends a report with the headline “Video emerges of USMC recruit (who later died) being hit.” He links the following story at Columbia, SC’s WIS10:

WIS verifies video of Marine recruit in training who later apparently drowned

Photo: Marine Recruit Jason Tharpe and drill instructorOn February 7th, News 10 was shooting a story at Parris Island about potential base closures. WIS happened to shoot video of a young recruit having a tense interaction with his drill instructor. That recruit was Jason Robert Tharp. Jason died at that pool 24 hours almost to the minute after the tape was shot.


News 10 was at Parris Island about 2:00pm on February 7th as two recruits were practicing advanced water training. Another was learning how to swim and there were at least three drill instructors in the pool. On the pool deck, WIS saw one recruit with his senior drill instructor. They were about 20 feet away from our photographer and because of a buzz at the pool, we couldn’t hear what they were saying.

News 10 asked the drill instructor on duty at the pool, SSgt. Anthony Davis, why they were there, “Right now, we have a recruit that’s refusing to train. He was getting in the water and he decided he wanted to quit and get out.” We now know that recruit was Jason Tharp. We asked Davis why the recruit was refusing to train, “Right now, looking at him and being over there watching him, he’s just afraid because he can’t do the swim qualification correctly, right now. He just wants to leave and go home.” WIS also asked him what the drill instructor might be saying, “He’s probably trying to connect with him him person to person, not drill instructor to recruit. Just person to person, trying to get him to understand he made a choice to come down here and that he should probably think about that choice and the decisions he’d made and just get in the water and try to accomplish something rather than quit and give up on himself.”

The next segment of video was shot from about 50 meters away and again, it is unclear what was being said. The tape shows physical contact between Jason and his drill instructor. There are very specific rules about when a drill instructor can touch a recruit. We don’t know if what we saw falls under those rules. And again, we don’t know what prompted that interaction or what happened afterward.

This is one poorly reported story, especially given the circumstances. The story is that a Marine recruit, who apparently desperately wanted to get out after realizing the training was more rigorous than he expected, is dead. A news crew has video of said recruit being trained by a drill instructor 24 hours prior. They have no idea what was said. There was “physical contact” the nature of which they have no idea about, nor do they know whether it was within the rules.

Neither Jeff nor WIS has an actual link to the video. My strong suspicion, though, from what I know of military swim training and the training military drill instructors undergo, is that the DI did not in fact “hit” Tharp or in any direct way cause his drowning. Recruits wash out of boot camp every cycle. DI’s don’t take that personally. Part of a DI’s job is to weed out those who can’t make it. A bigger part of their job, though, is to get those recruits who are simply scared because they’re being pushed past their comfort zone over the hump. Indeed, that’s ninety percent of turning a recruit into a Marine.

Sadly, though, DI’s are only human. They don’t always recognize which recruits are past their breaking points, even to the point of suicide. A significant number of trainees kill themselves every year. Suicide is a lot more likely culprit in this tragedy than a rogue DI.

See also:

US Active Duty Military Deaths, 1980-2002 (DOD) – PDF format

Suicides, Iraq and Things No One Wants To Talk About (James Dunnigan, March 2004)

Update (2-19): Jeff Quinton reports the DI has been suspended pending completion of the investigation. He also has the video.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. LJD says:

    It’s safe to say that every recruit who has been killed in training previously had a run-in with a DI. That doesn’t necessarily make it cause and effect.
    The real story here, or non-story to network news, is whether the appropriate safeguards were in place and functioning, to prevent the recruit from drowning.

  2. paladin says:

    I saw the video of this last night on NBC Nightly News. It was over-hyped, as usual. Brian Williams suggested that the elbow to the jaw of the recruit was brutality personified, but personally, I have seen more brutal physical attacks in the hallway of my son’s school. I couldn’t understand how someone could drown in the pool, since I assumed that training exercises were supervised. Suicide makes sense in this context. Tharp’s death is tragic, of course, but I’d like to know what high school Brian Williams went to where he didn’t witness the type of behavior shown in the video every day.

  3. Jeff says:

    The video is on the WIS story I linked to on that page unless they moved it.

    It’s a javascript popup thing that isnt easily linked to and I haven’t gotten it to work outside of IE yet because they have a proprietary browser window for video viewing.

    You can see contact that looks like a push and then possibly an elbow or arm striking the recruit after that.

  4. Jeff says:

    Specifically go here and look at the links under the picture of the recruit at the top left. Click on the one that says “Heather Brown on the death of a Parris Island recruit.”

  5. Angie says:

    In response to Paladin’s comments, I personally went to the high school Jason attended and there WEREN’T very many attacks like the one shown on the video in our school. And to simply blame this incident on suicide is not only ignorant, but a insulting, to write it off like that. This needs to be investigated, just like I’m sure if you died of unnatural causes you’d like to be investigated. Could it have been that DI’s saw him struggling in the water, but didn’t help him because they thought he’d get it soon enough, making him a man by the minute?

  6. MAMiller says:

    My concern is how did Jason drown? How quickly was he recovered from the pool? How many personnel were observing? Why did the personnel not determine quickly that he was in trouble?

    I think people are missing the point. Regardless of how you feel about military training, this is mysterious. I completed USAF BMT in 1994. At no time was I put into danger. My TI’s were tough, yes … however, at no time was I grabbed or struck.

    Why was this kid still there? He should have been recycled or washed out. If a trainee is telling you “I won’t do it … I want to go home, etc” in my experience that is the first one’s the TI’s get rid of. My understanding is they (in the very least) put them into med hold (for psych) for further evaluation?!

    When I completed basic, the TI’s tested physical and mental endurance. I was successful because I wanted it. If the trainee is refusing (if this was common in his 5 weeks of training), as it seems from his letters, this is strange! The military tests your physical and mental caps because they are very necessary. If, however, after 5 weeks of training, this troop is still refusing or fearful, they have failed to meet these qualifications!

    Something is just not right …

  7. Mary says:

    I have watched all the videotapes from the news site. As an Air Force brat, Army wife, and the mother of a soldier, I’m not naive regarding military training. I had one child who washed out of basic training because, even after a back and knee injury, she was forced to run, do sit ups, march, etc. It took our involvement with her commander to help her get out, and even then the DI proceeded to verbally humiliate her in front of her company daily until her paperwork processed. My other daughter was successful and did very well, but stated that physical contact was COMMON, and they called it “wall to wall conversations”. She want on to say that if it was needed for a female soldier, a female DI would do the “talk” (often involving a shove or grabbing the shirt). I understand that the recruits must learn to do the job properly, for their own safety and that of their fellow soldiers, but grabbing and pushing an obviously limping, exhausted, scared young man who has made it clear he wants out is not building a fighting man, it’s bullying and abuse that does nothing to make this young man want to do better; want to prove he can make it.

  8. Nhop says:

    Suicide?? Are you serious? Suicide by drowning oneself in a swimming pool???

    Come on, you can do better than that…

  9. Darlene Flick says:

    Question: How do you drown yourself in a pool? If you wanted to committ suicide on a military base would it not make more sense to use your firearm??????? Think about it!

  10. PFC Justin Humpich says:

    i graduated marine corps boot camp less than a year ago. first of all if he was contemplating suicide im suprised he made it to week 9 without doing it already.

    in response to darlene flick- no offense but unless you know what you’re talking about please dont come to conclusions. its not like we have live brass lying around everywhere. recruits get live rounds 6 days of the 89 they spend there. they are patted down and searched everyday they come in contact with them too so no, you can’t just take your rifle and shoot yourself.

    the instructors are tough during swim week but they dont let recruits drown. in fact they seem to be over-careful about it. they wont even let you stay in the water if you look like you’re struggling.

    and lastly, with all do respect, its clear that this young man didn’t belong there. we are the toughest branch of service there is. we don’t take kindly to the weak, or the shitbags. but as always, there’s at least one in every platoon. its a shame any of the intructors got suspended. they live their lives to make marines, and because of one kid who made bad decisions, they can’t do that.

  11. Janice Robie says:

    PFC Justin Humpich sense you are a graduate from marine corps boot camp less than a year ago.and in your words “the instructors are tough during swim week but they don’t let recruits drown. in fact they seem to be over-careful about it. they wont even let you stay in the water if you look like you’re struggling.”also in your words….(“its clear that this young man didn’t belong there. we are the toughest branch of service there is. we don’t take kindly to the weak, or the shitbags. but as always, there’s at least one in every platoon. its a shame any of the instructors got suspended. they live their lives to make marines, and because of one kid who made bad decisions, they can’t do that.)what do you think happen to this kid? Why is he dead now?
    and lastly, PFC Justin Humpich
    Jason family loved their son and will grieve for the rest of their lives and to insinuate that he was a shitbag and weak and deserved what happen to him.That you think it is a shame a D.I. was suspened? The shame is that a Kid died in the hands of the Marine Corp during training! Now that is a shame! It is people like you and the few D.I. with the same attitude as you that could give the Marine corp a bad name. There are a lot of excellent D.I’s out there. Their intentions are the same as the ones going in trying to help a kid make something of their lives. You need to take the word “WE” lightly. This was a kid that intentions was to try and make something of himself and for some odd reason died doing it. So we all can do without your shitbag weak comment calling!. Jason Tharp is died and not here to defend himself!

  12. LCPL Lopez says:

    Look, PFC Humpich was a little bit too outfront with those comments, HOWEVER, I did get out of bootcamp in August of 2004, and it is tough. He’s right, live ammo is almost impossible to keep on yyou and a recruit hasn’t even seen live ammo yet as rifle qual isn’t until the week after swim qual. He is right that drill insturctors make you get out of the pool if you stuggle even a little bit and in the deep end of the pool there is a lifeguard every 5 feet. Did this kid deserve to be a Marine, no. Was he a shitbag however? No. Not everyone is cut out for this and sometimes they get lured in by money which is wrong but it happens. Many people cannot take it and I’m sure the investigation will end with suicide because I mean it sincerely when I say it would be borederline impossible to simply drown. Drill instructors make physical contact with recruits, yes, it happens, but its how you make a fearless Marine. The contact in the video was well over-exaggerated however. It wasn’t that hard and the first thing your told when you get to the island is to stay at least an arms length away from the Drill Instructors. This young man tried to walk in between four. I regret his families loss but hope that in the end it is proven that the Drill Instructors did nothing wrong except try to make a marine. But trying to be a Marine just for the G.I. bill is not a good idea. If you just want the money your better off in another branch.

  13. James Holland says:

    PFC Humpich, you’re a moran. You need to sit and think before typing your imature thoughts. You give the Marines a bad name. You’re trying to portrait yourself as a “tough guy” Marine, but we all can obviously see that you’re just a REMF. If you don’t know what that means, ask a real Marine.


  14. MPJCAMP says:

    As an MP I can tell you that the DI is in the wrong for touching a trainee, and as for the drowning i would have reason to believe there was foul play involved. The saftey features in place to make sure that someone dosent drown should of worked at least to the point to where he may have swallowed some water but not to the point of death.

  15. David Cunningham says:

    The viedo tape is lying, again? Smacks of Rodney King. (You can’t believe your lying eyes or the viedo tape!) Yes, I am a former Marine. I completed boot camp in 1974. Contact from a DI was constant and often, but that was the way of the Corps then. I thought the rules changed where a recruit could not be verbally abused and definely not physically abused. If you think the “run-in” from the day before did not have a cause and effect, you really don’t understand stress in a controlled enviroment.

  16. David Cunningham says:

    The viedo tape is lying, again? Smacks of Rodney King. (You can’t believe your lying eyes or the viedo tape!) Yes, I am a former Marine. I completed boot camp in 1974. Contact from a DI was constant and often, but that was the way of the Corps then. I thought the rules changed where a recruit could not be verbally abused and definely not physically abused. If you think the “run-in” from the day before did not have a cause and effect, you really don’t understand stress in a controlled enviroment.If there wasn’t a tape would there as much discussion about this tragic event? It would be easier to write off ass a training accident.

  17. LCpl Freitas says:

    First of all the video of the DI and the recruit had nothing to do with each other, you can’t blame the days events on the drowning that happened the day after. Its nearly impossible to drown in boot camp, your cammies fill with air and make you float as does your pack; you can actually use it as a life raft if needed. There is also the rule of one arms distance, which is how far you are suppose to stand from your drill instructor, you never squeeze between senior marines not in boot camp and not after, which the video showed the recruit doing.

  18. LCpl Freitas says:

    First of all the video of the DI and the recruit had nothing to do with each other, you can’t blame the days events on the drowning that happened the day after. Its nearly impossible to drown in boot camp, your cammies fill with air and make you float as does your pack; you can actually use it as a life raft if needed. There is also the rule of one arms distance, which is how far you are suppose to stand from your drill instructor, you never squeeze between senior marines not in boot camp and not after, which the video showed the recruit doing.

  19. Boyd says:

    Folks, everyone on every side of this issue just needs to calm down. The Marine Corps does not yet know what happened, so it’s pretty damn certain that you don’t, either.

    As a retired Sailor and the father of a Marine, the video of the Recruit/Drill Instructor interaction disturbs me not at all (probably due in some degree from my own boot camp experience from the same timeframe as David Cunningham above). Anyone who feels that what they saw on the videotape constitutes physical abuse by the Drill Instructor is probably quite disconnected from the reality of training a Recruit to become a Marine. Probably.

    But the bottom line here is to let the Marine Corps legal system do its job. It gets so tiresome to hear and read folks who have glanced at maybe 5% (or less) of the pertinent information and coming to some grand conclusion, condemning or exonerating the accused.

    Wait and see. To believe that you have all the answers is the height of arrogance.

  20. Dianna Langley says:

    Boyd, you made more sense than any other posting. As an Army vet and the mother of a Marine, I agree with you that there is a military legal system that will investigate and find fault. A recruit died and he shouldn’t have. I know DIs physically touch the recruits as my daughter wrote home during boot camp and stated she had a female DI grab her by the shirt and yank once when she did not do something correctly. Though, the video was disturbing to watch.

    The difference between my daughter making it as a Marine and Recruit Tharp was that she wanted to be there and was determined to become one of the few and proud.

  21. David Cunningham says:

    LCPl Freitas, the grab on the collar was to prevent the recruit from falling? There is such a thing as abuse. Everyone can not be a Marine, and there is no need for a person to die trying.
    Pictures and video affect people. How does a person drown in such a controlled and monitored enviroment? I feel for the father.

  22. matthew oren says:

    The one arms distance isn’t a rule! It’s just what we as DI’s tell the recruits to keep their distance from us.

    I believe that the DI’s at the pool are at fault. I can say this as I’ve worked at the swim tank as a DI. At no time should this recruit have been left to struggle beyond his physical limits which are different for each individual. Even though I believe their at fault, their innocent until proven guilty.
    Tharp wasn’t a shitbag, he was a recruit, one that deserved the chance to become a Marine. After all the Marines do need privates to scrub shitters! He came there for a reason, to earn the title “Marine”. He won’t have that opportunity anymore and I know that his family will miss him. For his family you have to feel sorry that they lost their son.

    You can say what you want about the “old” corps or bootcamp in the Navy or for MAMiller and the Air Force, please….there are only 8 times a recruit can be touched this wasn’t one of them! The 8 times are SOP and although violated at times, shouldn’t have been when the cameras were there, DI’s should have better situational awareness than that. Boyd, it was physical abuse according to the Drill Instructor SOP that they get tested on every 6 months.
    The senior drill instructor tells the recruits on day one, “we will give every effort to train you even after some of you have given up on yourselves”. Applaud the DI’s for not giving up on this recruit. Some recruits just can’t swim, and others hear in bootcamp that the easy way out is refuse to train, get sent to medical and get a psych evaluation and get out.

    At least Recruit Tharp got in the water, he made an attempt, albeit in vain because some DI’s didn’t throw him a ring bouy before he was to exhausted to swim or to stay afloat any longer. The young Marines describing how cammies “float” and it’s easy, not if you don’t inflate the cammies and not if you can’t swim. Young Marines running their mouths.

    As with any death in the Marine Corps, it has to be investigated. The DI’s have to be suspended, that’s SOP, until the investigation is compleete. The DI’s that work at the swim tank (pool) only work at the pool, they aren’t the DI’s that spend 24/7 with the recruits.

    I find it hard to believe that an individual can commit suicide by drowning. The natural human survival instinct kicks in and an individual will struggle to survive in the water. Bottom line is he couldn’t swim, attempted to and the DI’s failed to take him out of the water soon enough before he drowned. Look for the outcome to be hush-hush. That’s been my experience as a Marine and dealing with drownings and investigations.

  23. david says:

    As a former WSI at Parris island Sc, I would have to agree with the folks that think something funny is going on. The DI that struck the recruit was his Senior Drill Instructor(SDI). You can tell by the black belt he was wearing.Back in 1987 when I was a WSI the recriuits DI`s were not allowed on the pool deck.Recruits can not learn how to swim under stress atleast not during the initial testing.Plus white recruits float much better that black recruits.He drowned on his initial 25 meter swim across the pool.On that swim there are atleast three instructors watching you.They are all trained in CPR and I see that they have the back boards and propably the electric shock pads for jump starting a heart there at the pool deck.The only time we came close to losing a recruit was when one recruit had a seizure in the pool during his 5 minute swim test. By the time he hit the bottom of the pool he had filled his lungs with water and he had died. We got him up and out in time to do CPR and get him breathing.we all knew if a recruit died someone was going to Levenworth. yes something is not being reported and there is some kind of coverup going on on that pool deck.

  24. Dustin says:

    David is definetely right about something strange going on there with Jason. I was a “washed up” or “recycled” recruit six years ago from the Marine Recruit Training Center in San Diego. I decided that I wasn’t the Marine type and ended up leaving before the swims tests. To say that Jason killed himself is completely idiotic and ignorant as there would be many other easier, less painful ways to end your own life. Come on! The DIs were obviously not paying adequate attention to him in the pool, or something else bad was going on. As for the hitting, when I was there in 1999, drill instructors are not allowed to hit or physically abuse recruits in any way. Sure, they get right up in your face, but no hitting should ever go on. I feel horrible for Jason and his family. This shouldn’t of happened. If a recruit wants to leave, he should be able to safely without being abused or neglected by DIs. I’m proof of that.

  25. Janice Robie says:

    LCPL Lopez if you are correct in your evaluation of the situation with what might of happen to Jason Tharp and it is ruled suicide.What does that say for the tactics the Marine Corp uses in training their Recruits? I thought the defention of Suicide was ” feeling you have no choice. no other way out.” I also found this article stating on Dec. 22nd 2004 ” The Marine Corps has the military’s highest suicide rate. Last year the Marines’ rate was 12.6 per 100,000. During 1993, the Marines’ rate was 20.9 per 100,000. Historically, the Marine Corps leads all US services in the rate of suicides, averaging nearly 25 a year since 1999. The Marines are the smallest service, with 178,000 active-duty troops.
    The damage is done with Jason Tharp nothing else we can do. Just go with what Boyd stated”let the Marine Corps legal system do its job.”and hope this does not happen to another recruit!
    everyone knows the drill that will happen in about 3 months trying to recruit High School graduates.This will be my third time around they have already tried to talk my twin boys in to joining.. They even came to my house.We as parents need to know the truth of what it means to Joining the Marines don’t sugar coat it. That way as parents we are not standing around with are mouths open saying “what” when something happens. But Like David Cunningham stated “Pictures and video affect people”.Now I’m worried about them Joining the Marines.
    To the Marines that have made it threw….. They are truely the Few and Proud!

  26. Kelly Castillo says:

    They should take that DI and casterate him
    the world knows he had it in for the poor kid from the films and actions from the day before
    and please don’t make excuses for him.

  27. Paul Olivas says:

    Concerning Jason Tharp,
    If anyone wishes, I found a mailing address .
    Heather Brown from WIS-TV wrote back to me.
    Jason Tharp’s high school teacher is collecting condolences to give to the family.
    You can mail them to:
    Braxton County Board of Education
    411 North Hill Road
    Sutton, W V, 26601
    Attn: Brenda Gibson

    May peace find the Tharp Family, may there be justice for Justin.
    Signed a father who cares,
    Paul Olivas

  28. Paul Olivas says:

    Concerning Jason Tharp,
    If anyone wishes, I found a mailing address .
    Heather Brown from WIS-TV wrote back to me.
    Jason Tharp’s high school teacher is collecting condolences to give to the family.
    You can mail them to:

    Braxton County Board of Education
    411 North Hill Road
    Sutton, W V, 26601
    Attn: Brenda Gibson

    A schloarship fund has been established to HONOR the memory of West Virginia Marine Recruit Jason Tharp

    Please send to:
    Jason Tharp Memorial Scholarship Fund,
    Braxton County Board of Education,
    Attn: Treasure
    411 North Hill Road,
    Sutton, WV 26601

    May peace find the Tharp Family, may there be justice for Justin.
    Signed a father who cares,
    Paul Olivas

  29. Michelle-Proud Marine WIFE says:

    While I agree that this recruit’s death was a tragedy, I have to speak up for the USMC. My husband was a DI at Parris Island and while the training is tough for these kids, it is also tough for the DIs. Yes, the drowning incident needs to be and will be investigated by the Corps. But to hear the letters from this recruit and add this to the tragic death is wrong. The one has nothing to do with the other! I can guarantee that most recruits write sad letters to their families… “no time to eat, no one cares that I am sick”… etc. Before you go out and “castrate” this DI, do a little research on Marine Boot Camp. For instance, does anyone know or care that for 3 months, the DI gets an average of about 4-5 hours of sleep per night where the recruits are required to sleep for 8? And if the recruits think they get too little time to eat, most of whom are used to taking their sweet time at the family dinner table, no one sees that the DIs get even less time as they have to be babysitting the boys (or girls) at all times. (Often surviving on cake or cookies or anything else unhealthy and sugar-filled to get them through the day) And don’t even think that they get to go home and eat… more often than not my husband would literally fall asleep in his dinner, which was reheated in the microwave due to the long hours spent training America’s Finest Fighting Force! (Oh and by the way, those same Drill Instructors often only get one to two weeks in between platoons before starting this 3-month process all over again.) So before you crucify the entire Marine Corps,take a step back and look at the whole picture!
    And out of curiosity, do any of you people realize that we are currently at war??? Do you think the Iraqi insurgents are going to wait for our Marines and Soldiers to finish a nice long dinner to send in the suicide bomber?? Do you think that a little flu will stop this war? I do not think so!
    I agree that this recruit apparently did not have what it takes to be a United States Marine. “The Few, The Proud” obviously does not apply to everyone. Just remember that those FEW Drill Instructors are constantly training young men and women to defend our nation and your right to speak as freely as you have on this site and other sites like it.
    In closing, I encourage everyone including this recruit’s family to read “Keeping Faith” by John and Frank Schaeffer for a better insight on recruit training.

  30. Dave Ryan says:

    I graduated from the same class as Jason and for this to happen is incredibly difficult for us all. His death brought a huge shock to his family, his friends, and the people of his hometown. Some of us (including myself) didn’t know Jason personally, but we still feel his pain.

    The very idea that these kinds of situations can go on is intolerable. A few comments here have been geared towards the “marines making marines.” The use of harsh tactics as character-building devices have been bandied about here-and-there, but there’s nothing that could possibly justify the treatment Jason Tharp received. For an officer to grab and elbow him and be suspended isn’t enough. This may help (and I quote one of the commenters here) weed out the “shitbags”, it is a direct violation of law, and those accountable should be held to the upmost of the law.

    Jason didn’t deserve this to happen to him. He wanted to serve his country and be paid for it to attend art college — not to be victimized because he was man enough to admit he wasn’t able to cope.

    You may or may not agree with the newsworthiness of this story, but the fact remains: a marine in training was able to die in a crowded training facility, after being recorded receiving assault and unecessary abuse.

    Jason didn’t deserve this, and he doesn’t deserve to be called a “shitbag”.

  31. Janice Robie says:

    Michelle-Proud Marine, Does the D.I. Know before hand that he will only get between 4 and 5 hours of sleep in the next 3 months while his recruits gets 8? and does the D.I. know he will only get to eat cake and cookies for the next 3 months and on babysitting duty?and how stupid this sounds!and curious does your Husband know you are on the computer?) I think not! I’m pretty sure every D.I knows exactly what they are getting into before they become D.I’s. I do think it is fair to say that the recruits going in might have a little clue what it might be like but the full inpact does not hit them until they are standing there. Not sure of what you mean.”we need to take a steep back and look at the big picture and quit crucifing the entire Marine Corps,I see no crucifiction going on here. Maybe to a certain D.I but not to an entire Marine Corps. Please tell me you not serious when you ask us if we are aware or not that we are at War.? You also state that you agree that this recruit apparently did not have what it takes to be a United States Marine.” What do you base them facts on? Is it them so called letters he was sending home? Just maybe it was (THIS) D.I that did not have what it takes to make a Marine!
    The picture of Jason standing there shaking keeps going over and over in my head and I thank God that it was not my son that I’m not the parent having to look at the last picture of my kid being treated like that . you talk about INSULT! you think the family insulted who? by reading their son’s letter. They are a mother and a father grasping at what ever they can to keep their son alive trying to find answers. Put yourself in his family shoes and then wonder why the majority of us are so pissed off!

  32. Michelle-Proud Marine WIFE says:

    Directed to Janice Robie:
    First things first…I acknowledge that Jasons death is a tragedy from word one of my comment.
    Second, you OBVIOUSLY have no concept of military life, much less the Marine Corps. Just for clarification, Drill Instructors chosen for this duty do not know how difficult it will be until they get there. My husband, who by the way agrees with the comments I posted, was a Marine for 10 years before going to Drill Instructor duty and was amazed to learn what he did about how hard it was for his own DI’s. This duty gave him a deeper appreciation for those few DI’s who pushed him to be not only the Marine he had become but also the MAN that he had become! (And, Janice, do me a favor honey…try working 19 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 months and eat nothing but cake and cookies.I GUARANTEE YOU WOULD NOT LAST A WEEK!!!You may think it sounds “stupid” but ask someone, ANYONE, who has been there.)
    Sure the Drill Instructors are not perfect. As with any profession, you have good and bad in the mix. I was simply attempting to clarify that not all Drill Instructors are evil and unless or until you know the entire story, society as a whole should not be so quick to pass judgement on this or any DI involved. If this Senior Drill Instructor, who by the way is not an “officer” as previously commented on by Mr. Ryan above, is found to have acted inappropriatly, then I truely hope he is punished accordingly. But Janice, what happened 24 hours prior to Jasons death is irrelevent.
    As for my comment regarding Jason not being “Marine Material”, this is a simple fact. No, recruits do not always completely understand what they are getting into going into boot camp. Some do but I would agree that the majority do not. The duty of the Drill Instructor is to not let these young men and women QUIT! Quitting is easy. I DO base my comments on Jasons letter home, which was read on national television by his mother. So I do not see this as a “so called letter”, I am pretty sure that it was the real thing. It was apparent that Jason did not want to be there. If at the beginning of Phase 2 he is still trying to be sent home, it is pretty obvious that he does not have what it takes to be there.
    Another clarification, I said NOTHING about the family “insulting” anyone.
    So Janice, in closing I would re-state my position…
    I send every sadness to Jasons family and friends. His death was tragic, as is every untimely death which occurs. I simply believe that until all of the fact are in, there is NO ONE ON THIS EARTH capable of passing judgement on the Drill Instructors involved.

    (And Janice….invest in a DICTIONARY before your next posting)

  33. Dustin says:

    Directed to Michelle-Proud Marine WIFE:

    Ma’am, excuse me, but if I may say, I sense that this is more of a fight over who has the better definitions of military terms and who has the backgrounds and what not than the issue on hand… I have no prior problems with the marines, as my bother-in-law is currently serving in his second term (I don’t know what the correct terms are in this situation, for I have no military “dictionary”. He re-enlisted.) However, I find it disgusting that you’re more concerned with uplifting and applauding the drill instructors, and simply stating a few minute comments on your sadness expressed to the family.

    I graduated with Jason, went to elementary school with him and grew with him as the years progressed. He’s always been a timid and shy young man, and I’d always respected him for keeping to himself and not bothering anyone. The Marines wasn’t a path I would have expected him to take. I do however give my UTMOST respect to anyone choosing to take that path, regardless of their personality or any other classification. All of us back home at my small town are saddened by the loss of our own, and I’m sure there would be some extremely upset people if they were to read another Marine calling Jason, or those who do have the pride to say they can’t handle the traning, a “shitbag.”

    I’m just simply stating that some of the above posts are concerned with the wrong issues, or at least that’s the trend I’m seeing.

    God Bless.

  34. matthew oren says:

    If anyone’s husband only got 4-5 hours of sleep a night it is because hi DI TEAM sucked. Only in the first 4-7 days will they not eat “right”, and not get “reaonable” sleep. It’s called a DI Team because the Senior is supposed to set up the schedule to benefit the team, with sleep and getting to chow. If at anytime a DI goes 3 months eating cookies and things that aren’t healthy it’s because the “team” of DI’s aren’t a team. More than likely it’s the Senior DI taking advantage of his billet.

    Also, DI duty is a B-billet, supposedly the top 10% of the Corps, NOT in reality. Although it is the toughest job in the Corps. Shitbirds make it thruough DI school! Any Marine that became a DI volunteered, stop whining about lack of sleep and not eating right, just another example of being weak. The Marines signed the contract, live up to it.



  35. matthew oren says:

    Drill Instructors aren’t chosen for DI duty, they volunteer. You make them sound ignorant by volunteering for something they don’t know nothing about. That’s how Shitbirds become DI’s. The Senior Drill Instructor was wrong for touching this recruit when it wasn’t appropriate. Being at war and killing terrorist and insurgents have nothing to do with touching a recruit when your not supposed to. Just another example of ignorance.

    I just hope that justice is served in this incident. I can Judge the DI and I will – he’s innocent until proven guilty.

    Long live the Marines and success to the Corps

  36. Art says:

    You’ve got to be kidding me! That so-called forearm smash or whatever was nothing. It may violate regulations, but it certainly has nothing what so ever to do with this recruit drowning. What I saw was a push rearward as the recruit violated the military protocol at Parris Isand and MRCD San Diego with regards to walking past a drill instructor or for that matter any Marine while you are a recruit in training. I saw a breach of etiquette by the recruit in that he must ask permission to pass the DI. Secondly, he was not hit, he was pushed backwards. I see no assault here. I see the Drill Instructor exercising his prerogative to put this recruit in his place.

    It’s not at all uncommon for most recruits to claim they can’t do this or that in training. I heard it many times, but you can if you really try and really want to. Understand this; the Marine Corps is not the Boy Scouts, you are not there to have a good time and walk around in a spiffy new uniform. You are there to learn how to be a member of an elite Corps that has proven itself time and again in battle. Quitting is not an option. Do you think the men who fought at the Argonne Forest, Bellew Wood, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, The Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh or Fallugah just quit and got to go home when things got too tough? They might have thought about it, but they forgot about it and took care of the business at hand. Grow up children, it’s cold, hard, mean world out there and there’s a lot of not nice people who don’t give a rat’s behind about your feelings or being polically correct. They would like nothing more than to take or destroy everything we have and stand for. Be damn glad there’s a few rather crude, tough individual who are prepared to die not to let that happen.

  37. Dave Ryan says:

    I forgot the Marines were the only people to see reality for what it is. You seem to forget — he wanted out. He knew he wasn’t up to it. The Marines accept everybody based on what they could become, not what they are when they walk in to the recruitment office — or, in our case, the guy who sits in the front of the lobby. You’re judging Jason on him not being Marine material — he found that out for himself that he couldn’t cope and he wanted out. There’s no sense in declaring him not Marine material, because he knew that. He didn’t deserve to die, but he did deserve to be protected by laws protecting recruits from assault in training.

  38. Lynne USMC-4641 says:

    As a former USMC photographer on MCRD, Parris Island,it was not uncommon to be called out on assignment as the duty photographer for an incident involving the death of a recruit. Sometimes they get through the system with an unknown heart murmur or other unknown health problems and the intense physical strain is too much. They succumb to heat stroke, they fall off things, drop grenades, and yes they drown. It is a sad situation to lose a family member and I feel bad for the family Jason Tharp. But if he couldn’t handle bootcamp, swimming, or a little shove, imagine what he would have been like as a POW.

  39. Proud Marine says:

    Well come on now! This is the MARINE CORPS…not SEAL training where you ring a lil bell when you want to QUIT!!! Remember people…QUITTERS NEVER WIN and WINNERS NEVER QUIT!!!
    Back in my day the DI’s whupp our smart butts daily! If you don’t know how to follow orders in BOOT, then you will get a lot of people killed around you in war. There are reasons the rules for training people to do your killing and protect you for a reason!
    Do all of you cloud hoppers really think Freedom grows on trees?
    Who would be raising hell about this kid if he was blown up in Iraq? NONE OF YOU!!!
    Here’s a deal for you…let’s say all the Marines stop fighting to keep people free from the tyranny of dictators and allow that to come here. Let’s say it is now illegal to use a computer, read a book, worship a religion, women can’t show their faces or risk being stoned in public or even beheaded, or you get to watch your family get raped and killed in front of you…who are you going to ask to protect you now?
    Are you ready fro me and my fellow Marines to come to your protection? You do want us to follow our Officers orders right and come save you and kill the enemy right? What if I don’t want to? What if I hesitate? I know what..YOU DIE! YOUR FAMILY DIES!!! That is the cold hard truth!
    Want to see the reality of war? Want to see what the NEWS MEDIA WON’T SHOW YOU? If so go to
    Now keep in mind, they have struck once on our soil…do they have to do it again before you wake up and realize you NEED ME!??! Will it take another 1200+ troops dying for you to be abole to bad mouth the men who sarifice their lives for your freedom?
    I didn’t thinkyou had much to say now! If you do, I will be the MARINE that is outside waiting for you to come out and face me MAN TO MAN and explain to me why you aren’t fighting for this country! If you feel you need to fight for someones right, how about we start with the people have no one to fight for them? Or should we let them be murdered too?
    And I also bet you sam people who are whining trying to point blame on the DI also think the Death Penalty is wrong and that all the people on Death Row, the MURDERERS and RAPISTS, should get to live…I say OK! They get to LIVE WITH YOU!!!
    I can just hear you people now….”Let them DIE!!!” Hippocrites!

    You do the math!

    Semper Fi!

    P.S. If you need to be protected, The United States Marines will still protect you no matter what you say about us or call us. We still HONOR YOUR FREEDOM AND WE WILL DIE FOR THAT PROTECTING YOU! THAT IS WHAT MARINES DO!

  40. CGR says:

    I have been married to 2 Marines. My husband seen this last night and was amazed. I do not think the guy was shitbag as someone else said. But some of you need to understand, the DI’s are there so these men and women can PROTECT us. Fight our battles. It’s sad, yes. But these guys through hell. Things happen everyday. You don’t see it on the news though. I think everyone is blowing this way out of proportion. Let the guy rest in peace and leave the Corps alone.

    Salute the Corps and the men and women who fight for us!

  41. BLarson says:

    I served in the early 1970’s. I was told then (VietNam Era)that there was nothing that would happen to me after I left Recruit (iincluding ITR) Training that I haven’t already had happen to me. Now realize that becoming a POW was a distinct possibility. Think of the Hollywood portrayals of that war and try to imagine the realities. Now do the math. The DI’s make the individuals you need to
    respond. The Marine Corps has its method. Not everyone agrees with it. But it works. Thankfully, it works.

  42. Mpeoples says:

    I went through Parris Island in the Summer and Fall of 1962. It’s hard to believe that it was almost 43 years ago as I still have vivid memories of the things I saw and endured there. We started out with 83 people in my platoon and graduated only 60. The training was and still is designed to weed out those who are not able to cope with any kind of stress. In those days it was very common for the Drill Instructors to physically strike recruits on a daily basis even though it was against regulations even back then. At any rate I did not feel that my life was ever in danger. They were especially careful at the Swimming Pool and at the Rifle Range as the Officers and NCO’s did not want to be the subject of any investigations. Remember, this was only six years after the Ribbon Creek incident. Sure the Drill Instructors were mean and cruel but that was what they were paid to do. If anyone is at fault in this tragic incident I would have to lay the blame at the door of the recruiter in West Virginia, as it is quite obvious that Jason did not belong in the Marine Corps. Incidentally, after Parris Island I attended OCS at Quantico and found it to be much less stessful than boot camp.

  43. Brittney Wilson says:

    Wow. A lady with a husband in the marines. Okay, my cousin is in the marines and he is over in Iraq now. I graduated with Jason. Therefore I have a fair advantage of giving my opinion. You’re right, I’ve never been in the military of any kind, nor do I ever plan on it. I enjoy playing volleyball in college, that’s how I get my money. That’s the thing. Jason needed money for college as well. The way I see it, he had two options. Not go, and get a low-paid job, or go to the military. Of course, he didn’t HAVE to go to the marines, but I’m sure they fed him a bunch of bullshit just like anyone else. “Oh, don’t go to the army, they won’t make you a man.” “Be a marine and make your daddy proud.” Now don’t get me wrong, I respect the military, but I know how they are. They tried luring me in by telling me I could play all the sports I wanted on teams at the base. Yeah, I would rather be getting a good education while playing ball, not learning how to shoot people with a gun. Mr. Proud marine, wouldn’t you need to protect a fellow marine before trying to protect an entire country? “The few. The proud.” Does that mean the few that survive through bootcamp should be proud? I don’t know the mentality of some people, but obviously our country’s intellectual level keeps dropping. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT A BOY LOST HIS LIFE? I’m proud of the woman that has a husband in the marines, I’m proud of the men who made it through boot camp, and I’m also proud of my cousin for being a marine in Iraq right now. But none of that will ever make up for a life, do you realize that? You can defend those monsters if you would like, but why are you trying to make up excuses such as suicide? I mean, come on. I’m sure drowning would be one of the worst ways to die. Anyway, you’re right, why would he go into the marines if he couldn’t handle it? But I’d also like to know why they would recruit a boy that they knew (by looking and speaking with him) couldn’t handle it. I guess we’ll never know.

  44. AmandaJ says:

    My husband was a DI, SDI,etc. at PI. for almost 4 years and I can tell you right now that Jasons letters sounded just like every recruits letters home who came through boot camp, especially only at week 5! You cant let them quit? Oh my goodness!Who would do that? They all miss Mama,daddy, they all talk about the food that they miss, they think they are so deprived of sleep. Its because they are used to staying up late, eating Mcdonalds,sleeping in, and not taking orders.

    Im so sorry for the familiy and friends of this poor boy, I truly am, and by no means am I defending the SDI for what he did the day before. However, I know it had nothing to do with the happenings the following day. As a parent, I know that I too, would want to blame someone, and the news media sure didnt make it hard for the Tharp family to do so.

    The only difference between the SDI on the video and every other DI on the island is that he got caught on tape. He shouldnt have walked in front of him like that, he wasnt following a direct order to stop.

    Also, any Marine Corp recruiter who let a kid join the Marine Corp just for college was just trying to make his quota. He needs counseling! Nobody in their right frigging mind would say to themselves, ” hmmmm, I need to go to college(during war time) I think I’ll join the Marines?”
    That shouldnt even be a selling point! They could use…”hey boys, you can drive a tank, you can shoot rifles, you can launch grenades, you can guard the President” But have college money as the only reason? Didnt a lightbulb go off in anyones head in damn West Virginia around this boy?

    I hope this investigation is thorough and justice is served for Jasons family.
    But, a legislation change? What the hell would you change? A recruit wants to go home…..ok…send him home? NO!

  45. Chris Blender says:

    I have read so many of everyones opinions on what they think happened. I wasn’t there but I do know that a drill instructor isn’t suppose to strike a a recruit. I’m sure it happens but doesn’t mean it is right. To put into perspective. So what some of these people are saying in some of their letters is that it is ok to kill someone as long as you don’t get caught. That is what I get from some of these obsurd letters. I don’t know the instructor and I don’t know the recruit but a little of respect for the individual who died. He isn’t just something you push under a rug. He is a human being. As a metter of fact he is an AMERICAN.

  46. Spangle says:

    To the proud marine.
    You have completely lost your whole sense of what has happened. This isn’t a stand against the marines and this isn’t about our fellow soldiers getting killed in Iraq. I am very proud of our soldiers. The one thing your missing is yes the corp weeds out the weak. Even if the individual tried to kill himself there should have been enough people there to prevent it and to save his life. They are to weed out not let them die or even kill them. You are taking what has happened and people feeling and taking it as a personal attack upon yourself and your marines. You insult the same people you protect. No one is insulting you and no one ever made any bullshit comment that we don’t need the marine. I am a proud American and proud of all armed forces. But as for you I’m not sure. I know your proud and it shows but quite attacking your own people for wanting to know why a recruit died.

    I want to say God rest his soul and the REST of the soldiers and people who have lost their lives.

  47. Rae says:

    This is addressed to Paladin especially. You need to read the news again, I can’t believe you are that shallow. Report back after your son spends time in bootcamp, that is if he is brave enough to even consider such a challenge.

  48. aeoirmake says:


    I just want to say, I know all those Drill Instructors in the video. I read everyone’s comment and everyone has good points and stretched the truth. Yes, we work alot of hours, away from our families alot, don’t get alot of sleep because of nightly paperwork. We CHOSE to do this duty and I enjoy it. Our job is to prepare these civilians to become “basically trained Marines” and we will “train them to the best of my ability”. I don’t think what happened on that video had anything to do with his death, but yes it was a tragedy that this kid died. I am truly, truly sorry for the family. We are doing our best to train these kids to not only survive in war, but have confidence and work as a team when they get to the Fleet Marine Force.

  49. Suzie says:

    I have a cousin who is a Marine and is currently serving in Iraq. He is from the same High School as Jason Tharp. My cousin called home and was talking to his father about the training in which Jason died. He stated that during all of his basic training, the swim training was what made him the most uneasy. A bunch of recruits were put into the pool and told to get to the other end as fast as you can. The first half through would not have to repeat the exercise. Now, if this is so, shouldn’t this be turned into a timed exercise? Therefore taking away the crowding of all of the recruits and removing some of the confusion. If this exercise is so closely watched, I do not understand how a young man could have even come close to drowning accidentally or, as some have absurdly said, committing suicide. I understand that in battle, you are faced with chaos and distraction, but learning to deal with those circumstances comes with time. I did not know Jason personally, but knew who he was. I do agree that not everyone who goes into the program can make it through. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and I wish them a swift closure to this tragedy. I have children and can in no way imagine how anyone who looses a child deals with that. May God guide and comfort all.

  50. Jan says:

    I am a retired Marine Corps judge advocate (lawyer) who spent six years at the Recruit Depot in San Diego, and thus have abundant experience with recruit and DI cases. First of all, the DIs or instructors that hit Pvt Tharp were clearly wrong and should be approrpriately punished. It is amazing that they did that with TV cameras running and news personnel present–it makes one wonder what they might have done when nobody else is around. The unforunate death of Pvt Tharp really raises a lot of questions–apparently it was known that he was a poor swimmer and he should have been watched very closely. As a rifle platoon commander I had to conduct swimming classes-I had a couple of very poor swimmers and they were watched very, very closely. Something really went amiss here.
    One more point, it doesn’t take long to drown, less than most people might think. However, in a closed environment like the training pool, someone in dire straits should be readily noticed. I have never heard of a drowning death under these circumstances. Hopefully, an adequate autopsy was conducted. Periodically we lose a recruit or young Marine/sailor due to heart defects in circumstances that are otherwise mysterious.

  51. Parris Boyd says:

    At last. Videotaped evidence of how the military is misrepresented to young people. Mild-mannered recruiters, slick ads, and promises of money for college. Then browbeat ’em into submission when they find out the rest of the story. As a four year Army veteran, I can only hope that Jason Tharp’s family finds the strength to file a lawsuite.

  52. Jean says:

    Bravo to both Spangle and the retired Marine Corps judge advocate for their intelligent postings.I, too, am a proud supporter of our military, but my prayers go out to the Tharp family on the needless death of their son. As for “Michelle-Proud Marine Wife”, before you criticize anyone else on their spelling and grammar, go back and read your own postings. I suggest a remedial English course might be in order.

  53. john says:

    I recentley went through six weeks of bootcamp. Before I got out. Stuff goes on in there that you don’t ever want to know about.

  54. AmandaJ says:

    Well, I bet your are happy to be out then huh, John?

  55. ES says:

    Well, there are two sides to every story. Even those who have been in the Marines and/or have been married to Marines have differing opinions. Nobody knows what really happened in that pool, but Jason Tharp and the instructors. We’ll probably never know. Even with an investigation, we’ll probably never know the real truth. I am very grateful that there are people willing to join the armed forces, complete their training, and fight for us in foreign countries. However, I also understand that not everyone is meant to be one of those people. Whether they know it beforehand, or they figure it out after that fact. That doesn’t mean that they are less brave, or unworthy of respect either. We all make mistakes, and Jason Tharp clearly recognized his in joining the Marines. Sure, he was young and not used to the rigorous schedule of the military. But, after five weeks he probably would have adapted to it, if he was going to. The fact that he never waivered, and insisted in every letter home that he was not meant to be there, tells me that he wasn’t going to adapt. If that’s the case, why would the DI’s continue to waste their time on a recruit that doesn’t want to be there, and is unwilling to train? Is it a prison or a training facility?! Send him home, and be done with it! Would you want to fight in a war with someone who was forced and bullied to stand beside you? I wouldn’t! Military experts have seen the video and have clearly stated, even without knowing what was being said, that the DI’s “went beyond the Military Code of Conduct”. I do believe the video is relevant to his death. If it’s not, it’s an awfully strange coincidence. You’ll never convince me that he drowned during training and nobody noticed. He wasn’t a good swimmer, so they should have been watching. I would think an instructors first responsibility to their recruits is their safety above all. It makes no sense. My heart goes out to his family and may Jason Robert Tharp rest in peace.

  56. Sidharta Saenz says:

    PFC Humpich or whatever your name is, please dont ever make a comment like that, you know why? because you are just a boot who is still brain washed from boot camp, you have no idea of what you are saying, think about all the times when you wanted to get out of boot camp too, and you know you did, I did, even though I Completed it, nobody knows what the Drill Instructors were doing to this kid, and you know they play a lot of games because its funny, there is a lot of DI that become that for one reason, just to fuck around with poor recruits,I know a couple of those. The DI’s implicated not only should be suspended but also kicked out, we dont need that type of Marines, we need Marines that will fight against the enemy not against ourselves. My best wishes go to the recruits family and dont you ever dare to call nobody a shitbag, because you are not better than no one else, and please dont let it be that you get stationed in my unit because I will make your life miserable, because you think you are hardcore, bullshit.

  57. Michelle-Proud Marine WIFE says:

    I would just like to send a big OOH RAH!!! to the Marines who posted comments here(esp. Proud Marine), both current and former, who have the guts to let the world know the dirty truth about war and what our men and women are up against. Especially to those Vietnam Era Marines who were not given the proper respect upon their return. I only hope that our country has learned from that mistake, as my husband is on his way to Iraq in the near future.
    Also, a big Semper Fi to AmandaJ…someone who I can completely relate to.Would love to swap “Drill Field Horror Stories” with you sometime. Do you find that you miss it? As crazy as that may sound!!
    Proves we all have a right to express our opinion, Thank God and Thank the United States Marine Corps.

    And Jean…please review…there is a distinct difference between a typo and a gramatical error.

  58. motiv8tor says:

    First I would like to send my deepest condolences to the Tharp family. Second, someone stated earlier that nobody is attcking the marine corps or the drill instructors in general, well from what I’ve read from most of the posts on this site that does seem to be the case. I don’t expect anyone who has no clue as to what goes on at the recruit depots to understand the scope of the training. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying what happened on that pool deck was classified as “training”. The training itself is hard and does or will serve a purpose in time. Everything that goes on is structured and follows a strict SOP. In fact the guidlines are so strict the it really isn’t that hard to violate the SOP becuse they cover what is right and wht is wrong to the tiniest of details. I don’t know what happened on that pool deck bet to say something was a miss is an understatement I know. But those marines at that pool are the very best at what they do and take great pride in what they do. They train countless hours to prevent such incidents like the one that occured. DI pledge- we will continue to train you even after some of you have given up on yourselves. I said the training is difficult and recruits do want to quit all the time. If we let all of the just get up and say “okay I quit I can’t do this I want to go home” there would not be a marine corps. Rct Tharp did not want to continue on in training this we know, but like I said this is common. Rct Tharp was allegedly seen “shaking with fear” talk about sensationalism and trying to play upon the bleeding hearts of the american people. Let me ask you something what does the average person do when they get out of the water after being in it for any length of time? I could be wrong but even in the most temperate of climates most people shiver. The DI was wrong for giving the rct a forearm to the chest but I don’t believe you can call that abuse, an asault yes abuse no. The definition of abuse states a corrupt practice or custom. Those kinds of incidents are not customs nor are they practiced at the depots. Do they happen yes of course they do and those who are caught are delt with, while others manage to stay off the radar screen. The marine corps is an awesome institution and this has given us a black eye but we will prevail as always. I have always thought that the marine corps is geared toward individuals who may have a screw loose or two. To thrive in a place the takes pride in destroying foreign enemies and preaches sacrificing your body for your fellow marines and your country, and who has a nightly prayer called the riflemans creed. No this is not for everybody but I love it, and for those who will never understand it and choose to spout off about what they think is true or perceived I say this to you.. go pound sand. Rct Tharp will receive justice, let the investigation take its course. To Sidharta Saenz I say this PFC Humpich and his comments were out of line and definately lacked taste, however he is a young motivated marine with esprit de corps and I would never want to make his life miserable because he wants to be hardcorps. A true leader would give him guidance on having tact. I take it you have never been on the drill field Sidharta, but you seem to have all figured out about being a DI and all. My challenge to you is put your money where your mouth is and pick up a belt and cover and get on the boys/girls!

  59. PVT. Lepper says:

    I recently graduated from Parris Island on Febuary 25th, I was shocked to find out about a recruit drowing at the pool, I thought it would almost be impossible to drown because they have about 15 lifeguards there and you get pulled out of the pool even if you look like youre having difficulty. About the DI “abusing” the recruit, it was said that the recruit was refusing to train. Hes lucky that he didnt have MP’s jumping on him. From my experience the physical contact in that video is common. We are being trained to kill, we dont have to be babied and it didnt really bother any of us. He was going through the same thing every one else went through. Even the strong want to quit at times.

  60. LCpl Ski says:

    I too was surprised about the drowning. From my experience at that same exact pool, I don’t think anything short of intentional suicide can cause drowning; though it is possible a mistake was made. But a few folks seem to be under the impression that the recruit drowned because the DIs were pushing him too hard… I call BS. When it comes to dangerous things like the pool, the DIs are more concerned for your safety than you are. If the recruit met his limit at the pool, he would have been pulled out and recycled. I know I was punished for not grabbing a buoy that was trhown to me because I looked like I was struggling a little bit.
    As far as striking the young man, we don’t know the whole story behind why it happened from the video. He did indeed get within one arm’s distance, and it is common to be pushed away if you violate that distance. My SDI was attacked by a recruit (or rather, an attempted attack), so the DIs will not hesitate to put some distance between them and you if you come too close. And the grabbing of his jacket is OK as far as I know, since one of the allowed intances of touching is to correct a recruit (though I’ve heard this only applies to drill and shooting stances, which would make it not allowed). But if you watch the video even closer, you see he ran right into him; it’s not like the kid was standing five feet away and got slapped.

    But then comes the ethics: should he have been pushing the recruit if he wanted to go home: absolutely. EVERY SINGLE recruit wants to go home at some point in training. The DIs have to push those they think can make it to get past thier own mental hurdles. Those that prove they cannot are recycled. This kid probably could have made it, and he certainly deserved the chance to prove it, even if he didn’t want to try. If you’re determined to fail, you can eventually prove it, and the Corps doesn’t want someone like that; but just about everyone will be glad thier DIs had faith in them and pushed them to succeed.

    It’s a tragedy this kid died, but let NCIS and Jag decide if the drowning was due to negligence or not. But no matter what, that SDI and the seried CO are probably finished.

  61. tcox says:

    My heart goes out to the family of Jason Tharp. I was sickened when I watched that footage, I cried for days and the images still haunt me. I also watched an interview of his parents and during the interview they read one of his letters. He indicated that he had been in the infirmary for a few days, so he was obviously very ill. In retrospect when I recall the footage I really think he looked ill, his face was pale and he was shaky on his feet. If in fact he was really ill, then maybe this contributed to his drowning, maybe he suffered a cardiac arrest during the exercise. I really hope the family get answers soon from the military. I think of my own sons and can only imagine their loss.

  62. Ceegup says:

    For someone to bring up the idea of suicide is just plain heartless. There has been nothing to insinuate that. This story is not an attack on the Marine Corp. It’s about recruit,Jason Tharp, and specific DI’s. Without the video, Jason’s drowning would have been dismissed and his parents would probably not have gotten much of an answer to their question of how this could have happened. They deserve that answer.