Marine's Parents Want Justice for Son's Beating
Posted October 14, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT
LILLINGTON — The parents of a Marine beaten into a coma wonder if he'll ever fully recover and whether justice will ever be served. The past two months have been a nightmare for Fred and Jeanette McNeill of Harnett County.
Two months ago, Marine Sergeant Frederick McNeill was found unconscious in a ditch outside a U.S. base in Okinawa, Japan. There were initial reports that a group of servicemen repeatedly punched and kicked McNeill, but investigators have since focused on one airman. McNeill's parents aren't sure what to believe. The only thing they know for sure is that their son is no where near the person he used to be.
Fred McNeill flew to Japan to see his son after the beating. The Marine eventually emerged from the coma and was sent back to the United States. A few weeks ago, his family shot videotape of him at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
"He still couldn't say anything," said Jeanette McNeill, beaten marine's mother. "He couldn't stand, and they had him restrained in the bed."
McNeill has since been moved to the V.A. hospital in Richmond, where he can use a wheelchair and talk a little, but all is not well.
The McNeills are not only upset about their son's condition, but also the investigation. They've heard conflicting stories, including one that had nine airmen in custody.
The Air Force says its investigation found one airman responsible for McNeill's injuries.
Senior Airman David Paaaina is charged with maiming and obstructing justice. A motive is unclear, although there may have been a previous argument in a bar.
As for other airmen near the scene, they will be disciplined for hanging out in a bar district that's off-limits for U.S. servicemen in the early morning hours.