Soldier barred from local school after incident with child, disrespecting Marine Corps

Soldiers with Gatesville Elementary School students and teachers after loading trucks with food boxes for a local food bank in Gatesville, Texas in 2014. (This was an Army sanctioned event not related to the incident involving a soldier at the school) Photo credit: Sgt. 1st Class Benny Campbell

An elementary school in Texas is saying, “No thank you,” to a soldier whose volunteer service prompted complaints from parents.

Gatesville Elementary School is conducting an investigation after complaints allege the Fort Hood soldier injured a third grader when he turned the boy’s head in order to get him to walk in the opposite direction during a PE class.

There have also been complaints the soldier made derogatory remarks about the Marine Corps while talking with students.

KWTX 10 in Texas reports the alleged injured boy was taken to a doctor, and the State Department of Family and Protective Services is investigating.

According to KWTX 10 the disparaging remarks regarding the Corps came when children mentioned to the soldier they had family members serving in the Marines.

The parents, who did not want to be named in the story, said the soldier told the students: “The Marines are stupid” and that “when they go to war to die, they (the Marines) leave the bodies there so the Army can step on them and not get their boots wet.”

The school board commented Thursday and said school district is denying this soldier any further volunteer opportunities.

“As a result of a recent allegation involving a Fort Hood soldier and Gatesville ISD, GISD launched an investigation, Gatesville Superintendent Eric Penrod said in his statement. “Upon its conclusion, GISD has made a decision to deny this specific individual any future ability to volunteer.”

Penrod also said this one soldier does not reflect on the other soldiers volunteering throughout the community.

“That said, this situation does not reflect on the thousands of volunteer hours many soldiers have dedicated to GISD and surrounding districts,” Penrod said.

“We welcome the positive interactions that Fort Hood provides Gatesville ISD. Again, we are very sorry for this specific situation, but Fort Hood remains a positive partner with Gatesville ISD.”

Fort Hood’s public affairs office said it’s aware of the situation and this soldier was volunteering independent of Fort Hood’s community-relations efforts toward the Adopt-a-School program.

“The Fort Hood School Liaison Office is aware of this situation and is working to gather the facts toward resolution with the school and the parents involved,” Tom Rheinlander, director of Fort Hood public affairs told KWTX 10.

We reached out to Fort Hood public affairs and as of the time of this writing, have not received comment.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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