Originally created 05/31/97

Marine recruit injured



PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - A Marine recruit at the Parris Island training depot was critically injured Friday in the same boxing drill that led to the death of another recruit in February.

The recruit, 27-year-old Eugene J. Kennedy III of Bensalem, Pa., apparently was hit in the head during supervised combat hitting skills, Maj. Rick Long said.

Kennedy was in critical but stable condition at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, Ga.

In February, 19-year-old Michael J. Cecil of New Haven, Ky., died after suffering a head injury in the same drill.

In combat hitting skills training, recruits fight three rounds of 15 seconds each and wear protective headgear, gloves, mouth guards and groin protectors.

Kennedy wore the protective gear and was supervised by a drill instructor, Long said. About seven seconds into the third round, he stopped fighting and the drill immediately ended, Long said.

Medical personnel checked Kennedy at the scene, Long said, and "he appeared conscious and alert and left the ring under his own power."

He was walking back to his platoon when he collapsed unconscious. Long said he did not know how far Kennedy walked before collapsing.

The cause of Cecil's death in February was listed as a blow to the head, Long said. His parents said he had a history of headaches and fellow recruits said he had complained of headaches, but no pre-existing medical problem was found, Long said.

Investigations by the Naval Investigative Service and the Defense Department cleared anyone on base of negligence, the spokesman said.

Since then, recruits have been required to recite to their instructors the rules for stopping a fight before they can box. If a recruit stops fighting and goes down on one knee or otherwise makes his head vulnerable, the fight is to be stopped, Long said.

Cecil's death was the first as a result of combat hitting training since the 1970s. Thirty-three recruits have died at Parris Island from various causes since February 1970, when officials started keeping records.