CALIFORNIA—The remains of the seven marines and a sailor who were missing from a training accident involving an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) that occurred off the coast of San Clemente Island, were recovered on Friday, August 7, the I Marine Expeditionary Unit announced.
On August 1, the search and rescue operations for the eight service members were concluded and they were presumed deceased. According to a press release from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, it was determined that due to the conditions of the incident, the likelihood of a successful rescue was low.
Early on the week, the AAV was located at approximately 1,500 meters off the coast. It had sunk about 385 feet. The crew of a HOS Dominator stayed in position and specialized equipment arrived on Thursday, August 6, to recover the remains. According to the statement from the I Marine Expeditionary Unit, the U.S Navy led the underwater efforts.
The announcement said that the remains of the marines and sailor will be transferred to the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for burial preparation. Then they will be released to their families.
The eight service members who were recovered were identified as: Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, and Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21.
The marine who was pronounced dead at the scene was Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, whose name was released early on the week.
In the announcement made by the l Marine Expeditionary Unit, Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, expressed his thoughts to the families of the deceased.
“Our hearts and thoughts of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are with the families of our recovered Marines and Sailor. We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort,” said Bronzi.
The mishap is still under investigation.