The commander at the helm of the unit affected by the fatal training mishap that happened off the coast of Southern California has been dismissed by the U.S. Marine Corps. The incident in July took the life of eight Marines and one Navy soldier. On the San Clemente Island, following the sinking of the amphibious assault vehicle, service members were unable to come ashore and drowned.
“Lt. Gen. Karsten S. Heckl, Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force, relieved Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner, Commanding Officer, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit today. Heckl relieved Regner due to a loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command as a result of the assault amphibious vehicle mishap that took place off the coast of Southern California July 30, 2020.” stated a Marine Corps on Tuesday.
The statement further said that the continuing inquiry into the mishap had amassed a vital amount of details and data on which Heckl’s decision was based.
A secure infantry battalion or the landing team is the ground combat aspect of a Marine Expeditionary Unit who sailed abroad three Navy ships in alternating placements with a force of 2000 Marines.
San Clemente is a Navy-owned island in southern California that is used for training purposes. After training on 30th July, a team of 15 Marines and a sailor were on board the AAV as it came back to the U.S. Navy amphibious ship USS Somerset.
Rescue effort by the Marine Corps
A few people were saved from the vehicle before it sank, comprising of a Marine who succumbed to his injuries later on the shore.
The remaining seven Marines and the sailor were stuck on the vehicle and drowned as the AAV sank. A successful attempt to retrieve their remains from the ocean was made after a week.
Death of members of Marine Corps
The service members were between the ages of 18 to 22. Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, Pfc. Jack-Ryan Ostrovsky, Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Gnem were the ones killed in the incident.
Over 10 reports of fatalities have been seen in the past 20 years with the involvement of AAVs. The latest on was a water-based casualty in January 2011.
“San Clemente is a very challenging amphibious training ground,” said Eric Oehlerich, an ABC News contributor and ex-Navy SEAL who’s led trainings on the island. “Night amphibious training is some of the most complex and high-risk training you can do as an amphibious soldier.”