Camp Pendleton Officer Relieved Of Duty After Marine Drowning (Video)
An investigation into the Jan. 13 drowning death of Marine Pfc. Joshua Islam, 18, at Camp Pendleton has prompted Marine Corps officials to relieve Maj. Adam W. Burch of his duties as commanding officer of Reconnaissance Training Company at School of Infantry–West.
The Marine Corps Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get a copy of the 400 page investigative report, which found swim instructors and medical personnel failed to recognize Islam's level of distress while he was treading water during a screening test:
“[Islam] continuously said, ‘I can’t, I can’t,’ and the instructors asked back, ‘do you quit?’” the investigation recounted. “[His] response every time was, ‘I don’t quit.’”
Col. Stefan Bien, commander of School of Infantry–West, wrote in a memo following the probe:
“It is my opinion the instructors ... were so focused on technical instruction of [Islam] and wanting him to succeed ... they were unable to recognize and were unable to assimilate due to lack of knowledge, the signs of instinctive drowning response.”
Marine Corps spokesman Col. Sean Gibson told The Associated Press on Thursday that Maj. Adam Burch was relieved of duty on May 15 "for a loss of trust in his ability to lead."
Islam was a North Carolina native who was an outstanding swimmer, according to his father. James Islam told the Charlotte Observer his son was following in the footsteps of several family members who served in the military:
“A lot of people live their lives and never follow their passion, and he had the guts to do it.”
WSOC-TV profiled Islam shortly after his death in January: