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SC National Guard investigating allegations of hazing and the use of racial slurs during training

Springdale, SC (06/02/2021 Paul Kirby) – The SC National Guard has initiated an investigation into the conduct of a master sergeant (MSG) who allegedly inserted himself into a recent training exercise, initiated what appears to have been a hazing incident, and then used racial slurs toward music and other soldiers who were using the music during the training. According to Captain Jessica Donnelly, public information officer for the SC National Guard, that investigation is ongoing and the MSG in question has been suspended from his leadership position and duties pending their investigatory findings.

Donnelly was asked for information after The Lexington Ledger received an anonymous email detailing the conduct of an MSG who oversees recruiting in the area. This MSG, an active-duty SC Army National Guard (SCANG) non-commissioned officer or NCO, is alleged to have shown up at a Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP) drill on Mother’s Day in 2021 and conducted himself in an unprofessional manner. This was reported to the SCNG leadership by other soldiers and NCOs who are concerned that this MSG's conduct will negatively affect the Guard and other soldiers serving with pride.

The RSP program where this incident occurred is intended to help new soldiers who have begun training with the Guard but have not attended basic training. It is supposed to help them prepare and acclimate both physically and mentally as they get ready for the rigorous demands of basic.

According to information The Ledger received from another soldier, the master sergeant showed up at the West Columbia, SC Army National Guard Armory on Platt Springs Road in Springdale during that Mother’s Day RSP drill. This training session included new soldiers, many of which who were high school students, and experienced NCOs who oversee them. According to the information we received, the master sergeant in question does not normally attend RSP drills, but typically works a Monday through Friday scheduled.

According to the allegations by other soldiers, the MSG began to insert himself into the training that day. At some point it is alleged that he included a group “forced hydration” formation. In this formation, no longer allowed in training because it can be considered a form of hazing, soldiers stand in line and are forced to drink a full canteen of water. Once the soldiers finished their canteen, the MSG made the soldiers hold the empty container above their head, upside down, to show they had finished it. One soldier was unable to completely drain his canteen, so he poured his remaining water behind his head. At this point, the MSG began berating the soldier, got in his face, and called him a cheater and liar. That soldier was then made to come forward and stand while another soldier poured a full canteen of water over his head.

Again, according to information we received, the NCOs in charge of the RSP typically play lively music while the new soldiers are performing physical training. This would be like playing music during a workout session at a commercial gym. It is intended to break up the monotony and can raise spirits, especially during a long training day.

At the Mothers’ Day drill, the NCOs were playing music that was a mix of pop, rap, and rhythm and blues. This music was intended to be appealing to the young soldiers who were in attendance. When the MSG reportedly heard this music, he began walking around loudly saying, "I don't want to listen to this N****er music!" He is said to have repeated his comment several times and he was being loud enough that he was heard by many of the new soldiers and the NCOs who were either leading or participating in the exercises. All these soldiers and NCOs were of a lesser rank.

According to our source, this MSG has been involved in numerous other incidents involving enlisted soldiers. This has not confirmed by the SCNG. The soldier who emailed us that he believed that the MSG’s behavior, “reflects poorly on the great National Guard soldiers in our State that choose to serve others.”

Captain Donnelly, speaking on behalf of the Guard, closed her statement by saying regarding the investigation, “Upon the completion of the investigation, further appropriate action will be taken.”


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