SAN DIEGO A Marine drill instructor convicted of abusing 23 recruits says he has been ordered to testify against the very men who taught him the practices that led to his jail sentence and dishonorable discharge.
In his first interview since being charged, former Sgt. Jerrod Glass told The Associated Press that he expects to testify against his two drill instructors Sgt. Robert C. Hankins, the senior instructor, and Sgt. Brian M. Wendel, whose court-martial begins Monday.
Glass, whose rank was reduced from sergeant to private, said he was ordered to testify by the commanding general at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Brig. Gen. Angela Salinas.
"I'm going to tell the truth. I'm going to tell them that everything I learned, I learned from Wendel and Hankins, and that they supervised it and condoned it. And that there were other members of the chain of command that condoned it as well," Glass said.
Wendel and Hankins have been charged with assault, maltreatment, dereliction of duty and making a false official statement for their alleged roles in abusing recruits between December 2006 and Feb. 10. Wendel, 30, of Columbus, Ohio, and Hankins, whose age and hometown were not provided, have pleaded not guilty.
Glass, 25, was convicted last month of eight counts of cruelty and maltreatment, destruction of personal property, assault and violating orders on how to properly treat recruits. He was sentenced to six months in the brig, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and the reduction in rank.
Glass said Friday by phone that he and his fellow drill instructors have been singled out as the Marine Corps tries to show the public that it is taking recruit abuse seriously.
"Recruit training is not being conducted any differently than it was before. It's not like all of the sudden this is happening," Glass told the AP. "I think it has to do with the Marine Corps not wanting to admit to the public what it takes to train somebody ... to go to war."
Glass said he wanted to shed light on what he said were long-standing training practices.
"I just want the Marine Corps to say this is the way we conduct our recruit training so the individuals, and by individuals I mean drill instructors, aren't singled out," he said. "I'm not trying to force anything on Hankins and Wendel, I'm just going in to say what happened."
Wendel's attorney, Capt. Jahn Olson, and Hankins' attorney, Capt. Bow Bottomly, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
Glass was accused of ordering one recruit to jump headfirst into a trash can and then pushing him deeper in the container. He was also accused of striking recruits with a tent pole and a heavy flashlight. None of the recruits was seriously injured.
Initially charged with 225 counts of abuse, Glass was eventually tried on 11 and convicted of eight.
Witnesses testified Glass routinely stomped on recruits' toiletry kits, breaking razors and soap containers for minor infractions like not displaying name tags properly. They also said Glass and another drill instructor forced them after meals to down liters of water in a ritual known as "waterbowling," an act banned by the Marine Corps' standard operations procedure manual.
"These terms ... 'waterbowl' and 'hygiene stomp,' I didn't invent them," he said. "How come everybody they brought in there to testify knew what those terms meant? I'm not the first person to invent that stuff."
Glass had only been a drill instructor for two months when the abuse allegations were made. Weeks before the investigation, Glass had been nominated for an award given to new drill instructors for their dedication, work ethic, positive attitude and demeanor with recruits.
"In his short time with the company, Sgt. Glass has already proven himself to be one of the top performers," read the nomination letter signed by Capt. Jason E. Mansel and obtained by the AP.
But prosecutors maintain Glass abused recruits mercilessly, even giving one a black eye. Glass admits it happened.
He said Hankins reported the incident to a superior. That report led to the investigation, which ultimately led to charges being filed against Glass, Wendel and Hankins.
"The evidence in the case was pretty overwhelming. Ultimately, they convicted me because those things happened," he said.
But Glass said he was only playing the role of the "drill instructor you hate," saying that was his job as his squad's junior instructor.
"The problem is that Hankins didn't play his role, the guy who smooths out the problems," he said.
He maintains he was doing his job the way he was taught.
"I had been a drill instructor for three months. Where did I learn to do these things? I learned them from other drill instructors," he said.