November 26, 2022



Marine Corps fires commander following deadly July assault vehicle accident

The Marine Corps has fired a commanding officer following the deaths of nine service members killed in an amphibious assault vehicle accident this summer off the coast of Southern California.

Lt. Col. Michael Regner, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment was relieved “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command as a result of the assault amphibious vehicle mishap” on July 30, according to a service statement released Tuesday.

The firing comes months after the fatal training accident which involved the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based out of Camp Pendleton near San Diego. Eight Marines and one Navy sailor were killed when their vehicle sank in 385 feet of water off the coast of San Clemente Island.

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, relieved Regner after an investigation “compiled a substantial amount of information and data which formed the basis” for his decision, the statement notes.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Of the 16 men onboard at the time, eight were able to escape — two of whom were injured and one, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Guillermo Perez, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The lost service members’ remains were recovered a week later in August.

The remaining eight that were killed were Pfc. Bryan Baltierra, 19; Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco, 21; Pfc. Evan Bath, 19; U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22; Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21; Cpl. Wesley Rodd, 23; Lance Cpl. Chase Sweetwood, 19; and Cpl. Cesar Villanueva, 21.

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