Authorities Identify Dead Marine, 8 Presumed Killed

August 3, 2020 Updated: August 3, 2020

The Marine who died after an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) mishap was named late Sunday as Lance Cpl. Guillermo Perez.

Authorities also identified the seven Marines and one sailor who are presumed dead.

After scouring more than 1,000 square nautical miles, the search efforts ended earlier Aug. 2.

Those presumed dead are:
Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra of Corona, Calif.
Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco of Montebello, Calif.
Pfc. Evan A. Bath of Oak Creek, Wis.
U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem of Stockton, Calif.
Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky of Bend, Ore.
Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd of Harris, Texas.
Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood of Portland, Ore.
Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva of Riverside, Calif.

All were part of Bravo Company.

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, who commands I Marine Expeditionary Force, in a statement expressed condolences to friends and family of the deceased.

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The U.S. flag was lowered to half-staff at Park Semper Fi in San Clemente, Calif., on July 31, 2020. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)
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An aerial view of the coast and Pacific Ocean taken flying in to San Clemente Island, in San Diego on July 16, 2013. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

“To not have all of the answers right now is heartbreaking,” he said. “Our hearts break for their friends and families. We pray they find comfort during this difficult time.”

Two Marines were injured in the accident, which took place late Thursday off the coast of Southern California. A rifleman with the company was rushed to Scripps Memorial Hospital and is in critical condition. An AAV crew member with Mechanized Company was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but has since been upgraded to stable condition.

The 16 service members were in the vehicle for a routine training exercise when it began taking on water before sinking.

While the cause of the accident is investigated, all amphibious assault vehicle water operations are suspended, Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, told reporters last week.

“Once we determine what the cause was then we’ll make a second decision on whether we continue,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, called the accident a “very tragic situation.”

“When the AAV began to take on water, they signaled to the rest of the unit that they were, in fact, taking on water,” he said. Nearby ships responded to help the sinking ship, rescuing eight of the Marines.

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