Remains of Marines, Sailor Recovered From Amphibious Vehicle Sunk Off California Coast

August 8, 2020 Updated: August 8, 2020

The remains of seven Marines and a sailor were recovered Friday from an amphibious assault vehicle that had sunk on July 30 off the coast of California’s San Clemente Island.

Their remains will soon be transferred to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be prepared for burial, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.

They will then be released to their families in accordance with their wishes.

“Our hearts and thoughts of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are with the families of our recovered Marines and Sailor,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a statement. “We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort.”

Marine Expeditionary Unit
Eight Marines and one sailor have died after an accident involving an amphibious vehicle off the coast of Southern California on July 30, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Kassie McDole/U.S. Marine Corps)

As previously reported by CNN, the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) suffered a mishap off San Clemente Island during a routine training exercise.

Sixteen personnel were on board the AAV when the crew reported taking on water during a shore-to-ship waterborne operations training. Five crew members were rescued from the sinking AAV and returned to their ship, the USS Somerset. Two Marines were hospitalized.

Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene. His remains were transferred on Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base.

After an extensive two-day search, the 15th MEU concluded its search and rescue effort for the eight missing service members. The sunken AAV was located Monday.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation and similar training has been suspended while officials learn more about the incident.

The eight other deceased service members were identified on Monday as:

• Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, California, a rifleman

• Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California, a rifleman

• Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a rifleman

• U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California

• Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 20, of Bend, Oregon, a rifleman

• Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 22, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman

• Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 18, of Portland, Oregon, a rifleman

• Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California, a rifleman

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