Wife reacts to sentencing of Fort Jackson Drill Sergeant involved in 2017 double fatal accident
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Waiting comes with the territory for military spouses. It’s no different for Shunkeua Marrow.
She’s waiting for her husband to return home, but he’s not deployed: Army Staff Sergeant Andrew Marrow is serving 18 months in a military prison in Charleston for his role in a horrific accident at Fort Jackson that killed 2 privates, Timothy Ashcraft, and Ethan Shrader.
"I really feel for the mothers that lost their kids," she said.
“No one wants to send their child to basic training and get that phone call, that knock on the door saying ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’"
Shunkeua can't shake the surreal moment when her friend called her with the news of the accident on October 6th, 2017. It's been a struggle ever since. Sergeant Marrow faced two counts of negligent homicide and one count of dereliction of duty for failing to stay awake behind the wheel of the one-ton truck following a formation of army trainees killing the two privates and injuring 7 others.
At his court-martial, Sgt. Marrow said he was exhausted the evening of the accident after working late on the base the night before, and got very little sleep before he returned for duty.
Shunkeua explains, "He didn't get any more than 4 maybe 5 hours. He didn't get a lot of sleep because he was the late man."
From the witness stand, those who saw the accident happen spoke about the horror and the heroism in the aftermath, but some also testified that Marrow was otherwise an excellent Drill Sergeant, whose years of service to our Nation included a tour in Iraq.
Marrow's wife says her husband is a great father, raising the couple's 2 teenage sons, 18 and 16 years old. She regrets that this incident is a scar on his otherwise outstanding reputation.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back. He’s an awesome person. I mean, I’m just sad that people couldn’t see that.”
But in court, government prosecutors and the judge said in his fatigued condition, Marrow should not have been driving that truck. Shunkeua, who served 6 years in the army herself, believes her husband had no choice because he had a job to do and orders to follow. She insists he could not have pulled over because of fatigue or asked someone else to take the wheel, saying "9 times out of 10...He would have still been driving that truck. I'm almost sure."
Much of the testimony in Marrow’s court-martial centered on training procedures, and the decision to have a utility truck following behind marching soldiers. Questions surrounding the nature of the rigorous physical demands of training were also discussed. It’s not clear whether any policies will change on the base as a result of the accident.
Marrow testified the incident happened 13 hours into his shift that included working outside in the heat all day. He also testified that he called his wife earlier in the day, and complained of fatigue. Shunkuea said, "In a way, I feel it could have been avoided. But I'm not going to say it could have... Because we don't know."
The not knowing, and the waiting is difficult to take. But Shunkeua says with God's help, she will make it through.
Sergeant Marrow originally faced 7 1/2 years in military confinement for his charges, but as a result of his plea agreement, the sentence was reduced to 18 months confinement and his pay was lowered from E-6 to E-1.
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