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Eight sailors discharged from Navy after hazing incident

February 4, 2012 |  2:31 pm


Eight enlisted sailors have been booted from the Navy after an investigation into a hazing incident aboard the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, a Navy spokesman said Saturday.

The eight were allegedly involved in assaulting and choking a sailor as part of an initiation rite, the spokesman said, adding that the Navy has a "zero-tolerance" policy toward such initiations and hazing.

The eight received general discharges after a "captain's mast" proceeding held by the ship's commander, Capt. J.L. Harnden. Although each could have appealed the captain's decision, none has done so, and all are now out of the Navy, the spokesman said.

The investigation into the Jan. 17 incident included testimony by witnesses and statements that were the equivalent to confessions, the spokesman said.

The sailors were in the junior ranks and worked the flight deck and other general duties. The captain of a Navy ship has the authority to mete out punishment meant to ensure "good order and discipline."

Hazing in the military has recently become controversial after the suicide of a Marine in Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, from Santa Clara in Northern California, killed himself after hours of punishment meted out by three Marines angry that Lew kept falling asleep while on guard duty. One of the three this week pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 30 days in the brig and a reduction in rank.

Lew's aunt, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), has called for a congressional hearing on the issue of hazing in the military.


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard. Credit: Associated Press