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Marine, 26, found dead on Parris Island marks the third death in 2021, officials say

A road sign in Parris Island, SC. (DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen)

A Marine was found dead Sept. 29 on Parris Island, the third to die on the base this year, according to the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office.

Pfc. Brandon Barnish, 26, was found dead at the training depot on Sept. 29, Deputy Coroner Debbie Youmans said. Barnish, from Evans, Georgia, according to an obituary, had graduated from Parris Island with the Delta Company on May 14 and was recovering from an injury before continuing with the next step of training, a Parris Island spokesperson said.

A cause of death has not been identified, according to Marine Corps Recruit Station spokesperson Capt. Philip Kulczewski.

Barnish loved watching movies and had a “childhood dream” of becoming a Marine, his obituary said. He was assigned to the Support Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, a “basic Marine platoon” reserved for Marines with an injury to allow them to heal, Kulczewski said.

Barnish was “rehabilitating an injury before continuing to the School of Infantry-East for follow-on training,” Kulczewski said. Barnish was not included when asked last week about additional recruit deaths because he was not a recruit at the time of his death, Kulczewski said.

This marks the third reported Marine death at the base in 2021 and comes just three weeks after a recruit, Pvt. Anthony Muñoz, was found dead on Sept. 7. Two investigations have been launched by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Command Line of Duty Investigations to look into Muñoz’s “apparent suicide,” Kulczewski told The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette at the time. In June, Pfc. Dalton Beals died during the “Crucible” training, an intense 54-hour exercise that marks the end of a recruit’s training. The investigation into Beals’ death is ongoing.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Command Line of Duty Investigations are looking into Barnish’s death, Kulczewski said.

An autopsy for Barnish took place Oct. 4 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, Youmans said. Autopsies typically take between eight and 10 weeks, but can take up to 12 weeks in some cases, Youmans said.

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