Three Marines court-martialed for hazing after soldier killed himself in Afghanistan

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Three Marines court-martialed for hazing Santa Clara native who killed himself

By Mike Rosenberg
Posted: 10/27/2011 06:02:02 AM PDT
Updated: 10/27/2011 06:02:09 AM PDT

In a case closely watched from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C., the Marine Corps announced Wednesday that three Marines now face court-martial on charges of hazing a fellow Marine, from Santa Clara, so badly that he shot himself to death in a foxhole in Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Harry Lew's suicide stunned family and friends, who learned the 21-year-old wrote a farewell note to his mother just hours after his fellow Marines punished him for falling asleep on duty in April.

The military's action will send three of Lew's combat mates to a general court-martial -- the military equivalent to a trial court -- for the extremely unusual charge. Unless the Marines take a plea bargain, they would stand trial in a way similar to the courtroom drama portrayed in "A Few Good Men," when fictional Marines were accused of murdering their combat mate.

Lew's death has captured the attention of Washington, where his aunt, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, of Southern California, has held congressional hearings on military suicides since his death on April 3. The Marine Corps also have taken a hard stance in announcing the case, saying repeatedly that it "does not tolerate hazing of any kind."

The three Marines have yet to face any disciplinary action, and it's unclear what punishment they would face if convicted by a military panel. In the only other similar case in recent years, two Army soldiers received several months in confinement and a third was fined for
hazing an Ohio soldier who committed suicide.

In August, the Marines recommended charges against Lance Cpls. Jacob Jacoby, 21; Carlos Orozco III, 22; and their 26-year-old squad leader, Sgt. Benjamin Johns.

The Marines then held a tense hearing over several days last month in Hawaii, where the unit was based. Fellow Marines testified that they thought the three accused Marines had gone too far in punishing Lew, The Associated Press reported while covering the hearing. They allegedly kicked Lew in the back, punched and kicked him in the head and forced him to do push-ups, side planks and other exercises in full combat gear before warning him he was going to get his "ass beat."

The accused Marines defended themselves by saying Lew, a Santa Clara High School graduate just a few months from returning home, had fallen asleep at least four times in 10 days while on watch, an extremely serious offense that in some cases can be punishable by death.

Lt. Col. Douglas Gardner acted as the judge in the hearing and gave his recommendations to the general of the Marines' brigade, Frederick Padilla, who, acting like a district attorney, filed the charges Friday. The Marines announced the decision Wednesday, without providing further detail on its decision.

Jacoby faces three counts of assault, one for threatening and one for hazing. Orozco is accused of one count each of assault, cruelty and maltreatment, dereliction and hazing. Johns is accused of dereliction and hazing.

Neither Lew's family, which includes former Sunnyvale Mayor Dean Chu, nor the military attorneys assigned to defend the accused Marines could be immediately reached for comment late Wednesday.

No trial date has been set.

Lew has been described as an avid breakdancer and a happy young man who signed up for the military to "take care of the Taliban." But 10 days before his death, he was transferred to a new unit, where the alleged abuse began.


Well-Lubed Member
So now the new fad of zero hurt feelings is hitting the military? Better hope we can maintain that technological edge in warfare, we're doomed otherwise.

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Unleash The Beast
So now the new fad of zero hurt feelings is hitting the military? Better hope we can maintain that technological edge in warfare, we're doomed otherwise.
You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.


Registered User
sounds like they went easy on the faggot, they should killed him on the spot for falling asleep on duty.

does not agree with court-martial


Registered User
Gonna guess that sleeping on watch duty thing is bullshit. Not that he did it, but under the conditions. They might've had him on duty non-stop or with little rest. Marines treat each other like shit, but they're the toughest so don't be one if you can't deal.


Registered User
Yeah, they don't look too highly on "hazing" anymore. When I was in, there were some new Corporals who almost lost their legs due to blood clots from their Blood Stripe ceremony (look it up, I'm not going to explain it). I (and my entire shop) almost got in serious shit for hazing a new guy, because he got knocked unconscious and a dislocated shoulder.
Falling asleep on watch is a very serious offense, though. Under certain circumstances it's essentially a felony.