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Encyclopedia > Ribbon Creek Incident

The Ribbon Creek Incident is the most common term for events which occurred on the night of April 8, 1956, when Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon, a junior Drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, marched his assigned platoon into Ribbon Creek, a swampy tidal creek. The incident resulted in 6 dead United States Marine Corps recruits. McKeon was found guilty of negligent homicide and drinking on duty. April 8 is the 98th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (99th in leap years). ... Year 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... SSgt Matthew McKeon Matthew McKeon (born 1924 and died November 15, 2003) was a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps who gained notariety during Ribbon Creek Incident which occured at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on April 8, 1964. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is an 8,095 acre (32. ... Platoon is a term from military science. ... The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is a branch of the U.S. military responsible for providing power projection from the sea,[1] utilizing the mobility of the U.S. Navy to rapidly deliver combined-arms task forces to global crises. ... Recruit (from the French recrue, from the verb recroître to grow again, i. ...

Contents

The event

On April 8, 1956, at 20:00 hours, Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon, a decorated veteran of World War II and the Korean War, led Platoon 71, his assigned platoon of 74 recruits, on an extra exercise to Ribbon Creek as a disciplinary measure. McKeon led the platoon toward a swampy tidal creek on Parris Island, South Carolina, near the eponymous Marine Corps recruit depot, and, upon arrival 45 minutes later, McKeon jumped into the creek and ordered the platoon to follow. From that point forward, the platoon marched along the creek bed. However, some of the young men could not swim and the platoon marched into deep water. There was a sudden burst of screaming and panic and then a mad dash for the shore. After a short while, it was noticed that some recruits were missing. Six men had drowned. April 8 is the 98th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (99th in leap years). ... Year 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... SSgt Matthew McKeon Matthew McKeon (born 1924 and died November 15, 2003) was a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps who gained notariety during Ribbon Creek Incident which occured at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on April 8, 1964. ... Former crewmembers of the battleship Missouri pose for photos shortly after the Anniversary of the End of World War II ceremony, held aboard the famous ship. ... Combatants Allied Powers: United Kingdom France Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Axis Powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Charles de Gaulle Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33... Combatants United Nations: Republic of Korea  Australia  Belgium Canada  Colombia Ethiopia  France Greece  Netherlands  New Zealand  Philippines South Africa  Thailand  Turkey  United Kingdom United States Medical staff:  Denmark  India  Italy  Norway  Sweden Communist states: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea People’s Republic of China  Soviet Union Commanders Syngman Rhee... Platoon is a term from military science. ... Tides are the cyclic rising and falling of Earths ocean surface caused by the tidal forces of the Moon and the Sun acting on the Earth. ... In United Kingdom usage, the term creek refers exclusively to a tidal water channel. ... Parris Island is a census-designated place located in Beaufort County, South Carolina. ... Official language(s) English Capital Charleston(1670-1789) Columbia(1790-present) Largest city Columbia Largest metro area Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Area  Ranked 40th  - Total 34,726 sq mi (82,965 km²)  - Width 200 miles (320 km)  - Length 260 miles (420 km)  - % water 6  - Latitude 32°430N to 35... Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is an 8,095 acre (32. ...


Investigation

Staff Sergeant McKeon was brought to a court of inquiry directly on the following day. At first, he was classified mentally and "emotionally stable" and "a mature, stable appearing career Marine." The court recognized that the detailed directives regarding and prohibiting certain Marine training methods were "correct and adequate," and that McKeon had launched an unnecessary and unauthorized disciplinary action. It was also found that he had been drunk and McKeon was recommended to be court-martialled. McKeon himself claimed he held a minor degree of guilt, and suggested only being "part of the system," and that the supervision regarding basic training should be restructured. SSgt Matthew McKeon Matthew McKeon (born 1924 and died November 15, 2003) was a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps who gained notoriety during the Ribbon Creek Incident which occurred at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on April 8, 1956. ... A court-martial (plural courts-martial) is a military court that determines punishments for members of the military subject to military law. ...


Consequences

Staff Sergeant McKeon was brought to court martial amidst a howl of public condemnation about the "brutality" of Marine Corps training. Many Marines came to McKeon's defense pointing out such training was necessary for survival in combat. McKeon's supervisor, Staff Sergeant E. H. Huff, testified in his defense. He called McKeon an outstanding drill instructor and said that night marches were very common on Parris Island. He said the discipline in the platoon was so poor that he would have taken the recruits on the march himself if he had the time. A court-martial (plural courts-martial) is a military court that determines punishments for members of the military subject to military law. ...


McKeon was defended by colorful civilian attorney Emile Zola Berman. Berman would later go on to defend Sirhan Sirhan. Berman put on a vigorous defense that swayed both the court and public opinion. Marine Corps Commandant General Randolph Pate testified. One reporter pointed out this was like "calling J. Edgar Hoover to testify about a problem within the FBI". The trial's most dramatic moment, however, was the arrival of General Lewis "Chesty" Puller, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps. Berman called Puller to testify about training methods. Although having some very harsh private words for McKeon, Puller called the incident in Ribbon Creek "a deplorable accident", but one that did not warrant court martial. He said that discipline was the most important factor in military training. He quoted Napoleon in saying that an army becomes a "mob" without it. He mentioned his experiences in the Korean War and one of the reasons troops failed was because of lack of night training. General Puller felt that the press had blown this incident out of proportion because of prejudice they had against the Marine Corps. He mentioned a similar accident at an Army post where ten soldiers drowned and pointed out that none of their superiors had been charged and that it had never made headlines the way Ribbon Creek did. Sirhan Sirhan Sirhan Bishara Sirhan (born March 19, 1944) was convicted of murdering Senator Robert F. Kennedy. ... The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps is the highest ranking officer of the United States Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reporting to the Secretary of the Navy but not to the Chief of Naval Operations. ... General Randolph McCall Pate (February 11, 1898–July 31, 1961) was the twenty-first Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from 1956 to 1959. ... Hoover in 1961 John Edgar Hoover KBE (January 23, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was an influential but controversial director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). ... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a Federal police force which is the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ... Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell Chesty Puller (June 26, 1898 – October 11, 1971) was an officer in the United States Marine Corps and was the most decorated Marine in history. ...


In the end, McKeon was acquitted of manslaughter and oppression of troops. He was found guilty of negligent homicide and drinking on duty. The sentence was a $270 fine, nine months of confinement at hard labor, rank reduced to private and a bad conduct discharge.


The Secretary of the Navy later reduced the sentence to three months in the brig, reduction to private with no discharge and no fine. McKeon went back on active duty. He was never able to regain his former rank and was forced to medically retire from the Marine Corps with a back injury in 1959. He worked as an inspector of standards for his home state of Massachusetts. In a 1970 Newsweek interview, he talked of his lifelong burden of guilt and how he prayed to God every day to keep the boys in his safekeeping and for forgiveness. Matthew McKeon died on November 11, 2003 at the age of 79. Flag of the United States Secretary of the Navy. ... The Newsweek logo Newsweek is a weekly news magazine published in New York City and distributed throughout the United States and internationally. ... November 11 is the 315th day of the year (316th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 50 days remaining. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


John C. Stevens wrote a book about the Ribbon Creek incident called Court Martial At Parris Island. He tracked down and interviewed many of McKeon's recruits. Stevens pointed out that, with one exception, all of them spoke in favorable terms about their former drill instructor. They claimed he was not the sadist portrayed by the prosecution.


Public opinion and media coverage

The Ribbon Creek incident was the subject of significant media coverage. Several publications, including TIME Magazine reported thoroughly on the development of the trial. Additionally, The U.S. Congress launched its own investigation. (Clockwise from upper left) Time magazine covers from May 7, 1945; July 25, 1969; December 31, 1999; September 14, 2001; and April 21, 2003. ... The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America. ...


See also

Lee Mirecki was a 19-year-old U.S. Navy airman recruit who died during a military training exercise on March 2, 1988. ... Isaac Woodward is the name of a highly decorated African-American WWII veteran whose maiming hours after being discharged from the U.S. military sparked national outrage and had a profound impact on the growing civil rights movement in the United States. ...

References

  • John C. Stevens III. Court-Martial at Parris Island: The Ribbon Creek Incident. ISBN 1-55750-814-3. 

External links

  • Complete History of Parris Island, including Ribbon Creek
  • Selection of pertinent text from the above document
  • Information regarding Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller and his testimony after the incident

  Results from FactBites:
 
Ribbon Creek Incident - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1005 words)
The Ribbon Creek Incident is the most common term for events which occurred on the night of April 8, 1956, when Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon, a junior Drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, marched his assigned platoon into Ribbon Creek, a swampy tidal creek.
McKeon led the platoon toward a swampy tidal creek on Parris Island, South Carolina, near the eponymous Marine Corps recruit depot, and, upon arrival 45 minutes later, McKeon jumped into the creek and ordered the platoon to follow.
The Ribbon Creek incident was the subject of significant media coverage.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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