Six Marine Corps officers wearing second lieutenant ranks have been accused of cheating during a nighttime land navigation course at Quantico, Virginia.
It’s a sad day when America’s most-esteemed fighting force faces dings for something so sullied. America loves its Marines — but the stigma of cheating is a tough one to overlook.
And there’s more.
The very investigation into the cheaters led to an investigation into the investigators, after more allegations flew about botches to the investigation.
Yet there’s still more.
On top of all that — well, here’s how the Marine Times put it: “The episode was further complicated by the alleged illegal confinement of female officers and allegations of sexual harassment. In the end, numerous Marines faces discipline and one Marine’s claims of innocence led to a private polygraph test.”
What the heck happened here?
The Marine Times said the incident originated in December 2017, when a student complained to the upper brass that some of his peers cheated during the night land navigation exam by sharing key grid points. These grid points were then used to find stashed boxes in the woods — something students of the night course are supposed to undertake by themselves, using only a compass, in order to prove their knowledge of land navigation.
Investigators began to question the students and confiscate cellphones to check for pertinent texts.
Ultimately, the Marine Times reported, the students “began to rat each other out.”
Six officers are now facing forced separation from the Marines. Two others — the captains who initially investigated — were slapped with letters of reprimand, something that will surely dent their files and dramatically decrease their chances for promotion.
And the sexual harassment claims?
One of the female officers swept into the scandal alleged she was wrongfully confined, pre-trial, for 24 hours.
Semper Fi — “always faithful” — is the motto of the Marine Corps.
“Honor, courage and commitment” are the “core values” of the Corps.
And its legacy?
“Founded in 1775, the United States Marine Corps shares its legacy with that of the United States of America. Intrinsically bound, the Marines have fought battles throughout time,” as Marines.com states.
This scandal, however temporarily, has put a bit of a stain on those creeds.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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