In early January, three women made history by becoming the first female combat Marines to join a unit at Camp Lejeune as a rifleman, a machine gunner, and a mortar Marine. Two months later and 2,000 steps back, female military personnel are making news for a much different reason.
The Center For Investigative Reporting reported Saturday that the Department of Defense was investigating hundreds of Marines who might have used a secret Facebook group—30,000 members strong—called “Marines United” to post thousands of naked pictures of female military members. More than 2,500 Facebook comments relating to the nude photos were made by members of the group, which was established in 2015 and is limited to male Marines, Navy Corpsman, and British Royal Marines.
The images of the women were either uploaded to Facebook or were linked out to a Google Drive folder.
According to the report, more than two dozen women have been identified by their name, rank, and military duty station.
“We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other: This behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members, and civilians. It is a direct attack on our ethos and legacy,” Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green told the Center For Investigate Reporting in an email. “It is inconsistent with our core values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.”
One female Marine at Camp Lejeune was apparently followed by a male Marine and secretly photographed. She told the War Horse, the nonprofit news organization that originally uncovered the Facebook page, that “he was standing close enough to smell my perfume. This is going to follow me—just like he did.”
The War Horse spoke to five of the women in the pictures. Some said they thought former love interests had leaked the photos, and others worried they had been hacked.
More from the report:
“Within a day of [the War Horse’s Thomas Brennan] contacting the Marine Corps headquarters on Jan. 30, social media accounts behind the sharing had been deleted by Facebook and Google at the Corps’s request and a formal investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has been launched.
“However, it is clear that the actions taken so far have not fully stopped the activity: photos of the woman followed at Camp Lejeune were posted on Marines United on Feb. 16, more than two weeks after the linking accounts had been shut down. The Marine who shot those photos has been discharged from active duty, Marine Corps officials confirmed.”
War Horse also reports, “While writing about one woman, a Facebook member said the person uploading the photos should ‘take her out back and pound her out.’ Another wrote, ‘And butthole. And throat. And ears. Both of them. Video it though… for science.’”
Brennan, the author of the War Horse report, has also been threatened online.
There’s a “bounty on pictures of my daughter,” Brennan told the Marine Corps Times. “It has been suggested that my wife should be raped as a result of this, and people are openly suggesting I should be killed… Can you imagine being one of the victims?”