Posted on May 30, 2014 at 4:35 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As we get more answers about what happened, Islam's father says he doesn't blame the Marines.
Private First Class Josh Islam wanted to be the best of the best.
The 18-year-old graduate of Weddington High and popular baseball player was at the top. His dad remembers the pride in seeing his son graduate from marine boot camp where he earned several top honors.
“It really was the fulfillment, for a young person, of a longtime dream,” James Islam told us by phone from his home in Gainesville.
But just days later, in January of this year, he died during elite water training in a pool at Camp Pendleton. A just released, 400 page investigation by the Marines describes Islam as a weak swimmer who repeatedly said "I don't quit" during the exercise. The report goes on to say witnesses saw his head go under several times and blames instructors for not recognizing the difference between a distressed swimmer and one who is actually drowning.
Josh was one of seven kids part of a close family, now struggling to understand losing such a passionate patriot.
“Obviously this is a very intensely emotional experience but as a father and as a family we feel an intense combination of grief and great pride.”
As a result of Josh's death, the Marines have removed a top training commander from his duties and are changing the way they train instructors. But James Islam says his family does not blame the Marines for Josh's death.
“He was raised to believe you live each day like it’s your last one and I believe he died living that day like it was his last day. And that’s the part that fills us with great pride and inspires us to do the same.”
The Marines are continuing to investigate Josh Islam's death and tell us further action may be taken.
Islam's family started a foundation to help causes that were close to his heart. You can check it out here