Court-Martial at Parris Island: The Ribbon Creek Incident

Overview

On the night of April 8, 1956, marine drill instructor Matthew McKeon led Platoon 71 on a forced march through the backwaters of Parris Island in an effort to restore flagging discipline. Unexpectedly strong currents in Ribbon Creek and an ensuing panic led to the drowning of six recruits. The tragedy of Ribbon Creek and the court-martial of Staff Sergeant McKeon became the subject of sensational national media coverage and put the future of the U.S. Marine Corps in jeopardy. ...
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Overview

On the night of April 8, 1956, marine drill instructor Matthew McKeon led Platoon 71 on a forced march through the backwaters of Parris Island in an effort to restore flagging discipline. Unexpectedly strong currents in Ribbon Creek and an ensuing panic led to the drowning of six recruits. The tragedy of Ribbon Creek and the court-martial of Staff Sergeant McKeon became the subject of sensational national media coverage and put the future of the U.S. Marine Corps in jeopardy.
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Editorial Reviews

Armed Forces and Society
It's hard to imagine a more qualified guide to the Ribbon Creek story. . . . At each point in the narrative, the author carefully explains the military background, legal relevance, and public relations significance of statements, events, and decisions. . . . The effort is so convincing that this work will certainly be the definitive statement on the facts of Ribbon Creek.
Boston Sunday Herald
[A] fascinating look at the episode.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570037030
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 605,034
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John C. Stevens III, a retired Massachusetts trial court judge, was a practicing attorney for more than twenty-five years. Judge Stevens is a graduate of Brown University and Suffolk University Law School and a contributing author for the Massachusetts Family Law Manual. He spent the summer of 1957 as a Parris Island recruit and experienced firsthand the aftermath of the Ribbon Creek drownings and the McKeon court-martial. He lives in Beaufort, South Carolina.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2007

    My Recollection of Parris Island in 1956

    I was a member of Platoon 26, A Company, 4'th Recruit Training Battalion in 1956. Platoon 26 formed up on February 3, 1956, just three weeks before Platoon 71. I graduated with Platoon 26 on April 13, 1956, only five days after the infamous incident at Ribbon Creek. In my opinion , the book accurately describes the training at Parris Island at that time. I learned of the tragedy only after leaving Parris Island. Until I read this book, I was aware only of the information provided by the often biased and sensational reporting by the media. This book is a 'great read' for anyone wishing to understand recruit USMC training of that time, and more importantly to understand what happened from the author's detailed analysis. Memories of my days as a Marine recruit flooded back when I read this book. I was appointed Section Leader, by the Senior Drill Instructor a few days after the platoon formed up, and served in that position throughout my training. Platoon 26 was a squared away platoon of guys mostly from New England. There was no problem with motivation or discipline in my platoon. Before I enlisted, a Marine veteran gave me sage advice 'when you're ordered to do something, do it right, do it fast, and never question or complain'. 'Take my advice and you'll have no problem'. He was right. At graduation exercises on April 13, 1956, Major General Joseph C. Burger, Commanding General, MCRD Parris Island, prsented me with a Citation as the outstanding recuit of Platoon 26. General Burger also awarded me the American Spirit Honor Medal for 'high example to comrades in arms'. After reading this book, I can't help but wonder what my fate would have been if I had been a member of Platoon 71.

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