The sergeant major at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island was arrested Friday, accused of assaulting a protester outside the base Thursday, according to the Port Royal Police Department.
Sgt. Maj. Paul Archie, 44, turned himself in to police and was charged with third-degree assault and battery.
Archie, who serves as senior enlisted adviser to Parris Island's commanding general, approached a protest taking place on Parris Island Gateway near Marina Boulevard, police said.
The group was protesting negotiations that led to the release last month of a U.S. Army soldier held captive by a Taliban-aligned group in Afghanistan, police confirmed. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners in a swap negotiated by the U.S. government.
Archie got into a heated argument with a protester who wore a military campaign hat. At one point, Archie's head struck the hat, knocking it off the protester's head, the release said. Archie took the hat and proceeded onto Parris Island, where he was stopped at the gate, according to the release. Staff retrieved the hat and returned it to its owner.
The Port Royal Police Department would not release the protester's name.
Archie told officers he had spoken with the man before the incident and asked him not to wear the campaign hat at the protest. When Archie drove past the group and saw the man wearing the hat, he stopped his car, got out and exchanged words with the protester, the report said.
Archie told police he "felt spittle strike his face," then told the protester his hat was government property and tried to retrieve it. The protester told officers that Archie lunged at him and had to be restrained by police who were already at the scene of the protest, the report said.
The police investigation was interrupted by a severe thunderstorm, and officers told Archie he could leave the area. They contacted him later that evening to inform him a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
Archie told police his supervisors instructed him to wait before turning himself in. Police contacted the supervisors and requested they allow Archie to turn himself in, which he did Friday morning.
The depot is cooperating with police, base spokeswoman 1st Lt. Jean Durham said. Officials there will await the police's investigation to decide whether to take disciplinary action against Archie, she said.
"We're taking this matter very seriously," Durham said.
Archie has served as sergeant major of the depot and the Eastern Recruiting Region since February 2014, according to the Marine Corps website.
According to the jail log, Archie was granted a $1,092.50 bond Friday and released from the Beaufort County Detention Center on his own recognizance.