By Michael O’Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News
President Barack Obama sharply condemned an epidemic of sexual assaults within the armed forces, telling a crowd of Marines on Wednesday that the crimes threaten to undercut the military‘s integrity.
“It undermines what this military stands for and what the Marine Corps stands for when sexual assault takes place within our units,” Obama told a crowd at Camp Pendleton.
Obama said his administration would take every stride to “stop these crimes of sexual assault and upholds the honor and integrity that defines our military services,” adding that “that message is coming all the way from the top,” referencing his own role as commander in chief.
President Barack Obama speaks to troops at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Wednesday, stressing the importance of eliminating sexual assaults in the military.
The military has weathered growing outrage involving its handling of allegations of sexual assault, particularly against enlisted women. A Pentagon report in May was particularly alarming for its finding that sexual assault within the military is on the rise, and that as many as 26,000 instances of sexual assault went unreported in 2012 alone.
By Michael Isikoff
A 23-year-old Washington, D.C. woman who alleges she was raped on a Marine Corps base just blocks from the U.S. Capitol said she never thought she’d be in danger among members of the military
“I thought I was going to a place where I would be safe,” said Karalen Morthole in an exclusive interview with NBC News. “In my head, I thought these are people who are supposed to be protecting me.”
This week a Marine Corps general ordered that Master Sgt. Ronald E. Bohlayer be charged with raping Morthole after a night of partying and drinking last July at the historic Marine Barracks on Capitol Hill. The charges come as the entire U.S. military is under fire for its handling of sexual assault cases, and barely a year after the release of an Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War,” that featured allegations of sexual assault and raucous drinking at the Barracks. The allegations got widespread attention from Congress despite strong denials from the Marine Corps.
By Scott Stump, TODAY contributor
U.S. Marine Corps captain Matthew Phelps asked, and his partner Ben Schock said yes.
On Saturday night, Phelps was photographed getting down on one knee in what is believed to be the first same-sex marriage proposal ever made in the White House. The couple’s engagement came 14 months after the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy officially ended, and the joyful photo was quickly passed around on social media shortly after it was posted online by the American Military Partner Association. The proposal occurred while Phelps and Schock were taking a Christmas tour of the White House together.
“Such a special night surrounded by wonderful people in an amazing place, and the best is still yet to come,” Phelps wrote on his Facebook page. “Thanks for all the wonderful greetings and messages, and thanks to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for lending us your home for the occasion!”
“Such a wonderful night for us, and it’s received so much attention on Facebook!’’ Phelps also wrote on his blog. “Really, the only thing on my mind was making it a memorable and unforgettable night for Ben. Thank you all for the well wishes!!” FULL ARTICLE
Uploaded by usmarineband on Dec 8, 2011
“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band recorded John Philip Sousa‘s march “Semper Fidelis” on March, 3, 2009, in the John Philip Sousa Band Hall at Marine Barracks Annex in Washington, D.C. This video was recorded for the National Museum of the Marine Corps gallery titled “A Global Expeditionary Force 1866-1916,” where visitors will find an interactive Marine Band exhibit.