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Navy's bid to pin blame ends in sailor's suicide.

Distraught parents Dennis and Mary O'Brien want to know why their son Dennis Jnr became one of over 4,000 U.S. servicemen whose deaths have been classified as suicide since 1980.

The 2l-year-old Irish-born seaman, described by his superior as an ideal candidate for officers' training school, was found lying on the deck of the nuclear submarine USS Los Angeles. He died from a bullet wound to the head.

The O'Briens, immigrants from Limerick who settled in Providence, Pennsylvania, have discovered it all started when their son was presented with his submarine warfare pin by the ship's commander on the pier at Pearl Harbour.

After the ceremony, friends took part in an old ritual - punching and slapping Dennis' newly acquired badge, a silver coloured dolphin pin.

The so-called `hazing' was enough to bruise his chest.

Although Dennis didn't complain, the submarine's chief-of-boat triggered an investigation when he noticed the bent dolphins.

He announced over the vessel's public address system that those involved in the ritual would be punished and shore leave was cancelled. At a subsequent inquiry, two sailors said they'd lightly tapped the dolphins in a congratulatory manner - but that didn't end the probe.

Pressured from above, ship commander Capt John Boulden lll insisted O'Brien tell who had hazed him.

O'Brien, who admitted he'd been threatened by his pals if he gave their names, refused. He said: "If someone calls me a snitch, then I'm never going to be able to work with anybody on this boat again."

With the Navy's new zero tolerance policy on hazing being enforced to the letter, the culprits would have been dismissed from the service.

On the last day of his life, just five days after the pin ceremony, Dennis heard the vessel's executive officer tell the crew that O'Brien and others "know the truth...but are not man enough to come forward".

Dennis was assigned that night to patrol the deck. He was later found with a head wound, his gun in his hand.

"The Navy killed my son," says Mary O'Brien. "If Dennis had an obligation to give them names, and he did not, he should have been punished.

"But he should not have been persecuted by the top brass. He never was a snitch."

JFK TO TOUCHDOWN FOR HIDEAWAY HOL

John F. Kennedy Jnr and bride Carolyn Bessette, pictured right, are planning a holiday in Co Cork.

His aunt, US ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, helped arrange a rented mansion for them overlooking the coast.

The location is being kept a secret in an attempt to keep the paparazzi at bay.

According to New York gossip columnists, they're due to arrive some time in the middle of July until the first week in August.

Perhaps he'll be taking time to show her where his ancestors came from.

FIGHTING TALK AS MALACHY LAUNCHES HIS BIG COMEBACK

The multi-talented Malachy McCourt is unaccustomed to being overshadowed by his author brother Frank.

But he has been forced to take a back seat recently while Frank took plaudits - and the Pulitzer Prize - for his book Angela's Ashes, the story of their upbringing in Ireland.

Now Malachy has come out fighting - at a boxing match at New York's 69th Street Armoury last night.

The actor and raconteur was master of ceremonies at a boxing exhibition between the city's Police Department and a bunch of bruisers from the An Garda Siochana.

Proceeds are to go to the Jerry Lisker Memorial Scholarship Fund, named after the late, great sports editor of the New York Post.

The legendary Jerry always claimed over a Guinness that he was half-Irish - one set of grandparents being from Co Clare, one quarter English and one quarter Blackfoot Indian.

A rare, fighting combination.

GETTING RID OF GETAWAY

Actress Geena Davis and her director husband Renny Harlin have their holiday getaway in Killarney up for sale after announcing they've been "separated since April".

Bizarrely, they intend to remain business partners.

In 1994 they paid pounds 250,000 for their four-bedroom, three-bathroom house on l5 acres outside Tralee.

Now they are asking pounds 650,000 for it.

CRIMEBUSTER COP FITS BILL

Word here is that Bill Bratton, the former NYPD Commissioner who formulated the zero-tolerance crime policy in the Big Apple, is heading for Ireland.

Sources say he's been asked by Dublin's top cops to visit as a consultant, giving advice on how to clamp down on gangsters and druggies.

Villains should be warned: he's tough, determined and absolutely uncompromising.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 14, 1997
Words:745
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