A Marine staff sergeant from Long Island has been identified as one of two Marines facing court martial for their alleged involvement in urinating on deceased Taliban fighters, then posing for photographs in Afghanistan last year, according to a federal government source.
Edward Deptola, 27, of Southold in Suffolk County is a former football player and a 2003 graduate of Southold High School, according to family friends and neighbors.
"It's kind of sad because he was a pretty good kid in the neighborhood here," said George Terry, who lives next door to Deptola's parents.
No one answered the door at their home Thursday, but a Marine Corps flag flew outside.
At Southold's American Legion Post 803, on a road lined with American flags, the news that a local Marine may have been involved in the infamous incident was greeted with disbelief.
"There are good people in the world, there are bad people in the world, and they have some in each and every community," said post commander Earl Brock. "This may just be one big mistake."
The alleged incident came to light after a video appeared on YouTube in January. According to the Department of Defense, it happened in July,2011 during a counterinsurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
"The charges are accusations and the accused are presumed innocent and are guaranteed the right to due process under the Uniform Code of Military Justice," said a Marine Corps statement.
Deptola and his co-defendant, Staff Sergeant Joseph Chamblin, are assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine regiment in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Several calls to Deptola's home in North Carolina were not returned.
The trial date for the court martial has not been released. Last month, three other Marines received nonjudicial punishment for misconduct in this incident. Disciplinary actions against them have yet to be announced.