Marine Families React to Recruit Death - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/24/05

Marine Families React to Recruit Death

Video shows a drill instructor grabbing a recruit. Video shows a drill instructor grabbing a recruit.

West Virginia Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller want a full investigation into the death of Marine recruit Jason Tharp. Tharp drowned during water survival training February 8.

The day before his death, a drill instructor hit grabbed and pushed Tharp several times. A South Carolina television station caught it all on tape. The military suspended the instructor and four other Marines who witnessed it.

Today, Sen. Byrd asked secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld to personally look into Tharp's death. So far, there are three ongoing investigations into Tharp's death. Marine officials at Parris Island say they don't expect to hear any results for a while.

Since his death, it's been nerve racking for many families who have children on Parris Island.

It was an emotional reunion for Tony and Cathy Graziosi as they saw their son for the first time since he went off to boot camp. Although the Graziosis say it's been a tough 13 weeks, they're proud of their son and are just happy to see him.

"He's here, that's what matters now," said Cathy Graziosi.

Especially since their son was still on Parris Island when they saw the video of a drill instructor shoving 19-year-old Jason Tharp the day before he died.

It's an incident that had many parents concerned. "Of course," said Cathy. "I think everyone was."

Jeffrey Davies was a little concerned, but had confidence that his son would graduate. "As a former Marine, I knew the challenges, I knew what he was up against, I knew he could beat the challenge."

Marilan Lee isn't letting the videotape worry her. "Actually not, because I know first of all, God is watching over Marcus in all he does, I knew that someone higher than the ones training him were protecting him, so I had no worries."

But for others it's not the training that concerns them. "The training was fine," said Marine grandmother Myrtle Hott. "It's the going over that bothers me."

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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