Okinawa-based Marines offer little reaction to verdict
CHATAN, Okinawa — Reaction by Americans here to Monday’s decision in the conviction of an Okinawa-based Marine sentenced to 40 years for raping a Filipina in Subic a year ago was muted.
Few of the people interviewed Monday night were even aware of the case that garnered international media attention and aroused heated anti-American sentiment in the Philippines.
Army Sgt. Paul Rodrique, 37, assigned to the 58th Signal Battalion, said he was aware of the case but had not been following it closely.
“My opinion is that if he’s guilty he deserves to be prosecuted and punished,” Rodrique said. “As servicemen, we’re supposed to be ambassadors for our country. And if you trip up and commit a crime like this, 40 years isn’t too severe.
“But who knows what the real facts are?” he added. “Marines get a bad rap wherever they go and anti-American sentiment can get in the way of the facts. I remember when I was in Korea and saw how a lot of the Koreans really don’t like Americans and are still angry about things that happened 40 years ago. So, I can just imagine what being on trial there would be like for an American.”
Marine officials denied a Stripes request to interview Marines on Okinawa bases concerning the verdict.
However, in the Mihama shopping district of Chatan, near camps Foster and Lester, four Marines who asked not to be identified said they had not followed the news.
“It was a year ago and involved Marines I don’t know in a place I haven’t been,” one young Marine said. “So who cares?”
Outside of a Starbucks in the district, Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen McCrillis, assigned to Camp Foster, said there has been no talk about the case in his unit.
“Not a word, not anything,” McCrillis, 19, said.
His liberty buddy, Lance Cpl. Tyler Johnson, also 19, said he, too, didn’t know anything about the case.
“But I guess I’ll be hearing about it at battalion formation tomorrow morning,” Johnson said. “I don’t have time to watch TV or read the papers.”
Officially, the command of the III Marine Expeditionary Force was already looking onto the next phase of the case — the appeal process for Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison, and whether or not the three acquitted Marines — lance corporals Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier — will face disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice when they return to Okinawa.
“The Marine Corps has fully cooperated with the Philippine authorities throughout the investigation and trial stage of this case in accordance with the Visiting Force Agreement,” said 2nd Lt. Brian Block, a III MEF spokesman.
“This has been a difficult and emotional matter for all involved and for their family and friends,” he said. “With their acquittal on criminal charges, Carpentier, Duplantis and Silkwood will return directly to III MEF. The Marine Corps will continue to fully cooperate with the Philippine authorities in the next phase of the legal proceedings involving Lance Cpl. Smith.”
What happens next for Smith’s three friends is yet to be determined.
“The Marine Corps is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the incident to determine if the Marines acquitted by the Philippine court violated the UCMJ,” Block said. “Appropriate action will be taken based on the results of that investigation.”