News and Commentary

Eight Service Members Presumed Dead After Marine Training Accident Off California Coast
SAN CLEMENTE, CA - JULY 31: Former San Clemente Mayor Wayne Eggleston lowers the U.S. flag to half-staff at Park Semper Fi in San Clemente, CA on Friday, July 31, 2020. A day earlier one Marine from Camp Pendleton was killed and several remained missing after an accident during training off San Clemente Island.
Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The military has called off the search for eight missing troops who were aboard an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) off the coast of Southern California when a training accident caused it to sink late Thursday evening. All eight are presumed dead.

Sixteen service members, fifteen Marines and one sailor in total, were on board the AAV when it began to take on water near San Clemente Island, which is owned by the U.S. Navy and is about 80 miles from Camp Pendleton, where the troops were stationed.

Half of the sixteen service members on board were rescued, and of those rescued, one died en route to the hospital. Two others remain in critical condition as of Saturday.

“It is with a heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th Military Expeditionary Unit Commanding Officer, in a statement on Saturday. “The steadfast dedication of the Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen to the persistent rescue effort was tremendous.”

According to ABC News contributor Eric Oehlerich, a former Navy SEAL who has trained in that area, “San Clemente is a very challenging amphibious training ground.”

“Night amphibious training is some of the most complex and high-risk training you can do as an amphibious soldier,” he said.

The circumstances of the accident remain under investigation, and all AAV water trainings have been suspended until the cause of the accident can be determined, a military official said Friday during a press conference.

“Our thoughts and prayers have been, and will continue to be with our Marines’ and Sailors’ families during this difficult time,” said Bronzi. “As we turn to recovery operations, we will continue our exhaustive search for our missing Marines and Sailor.”

“The 1 MEF family mourns the loss of the 7 Marines and a Sailor of the 15th MEU. To not have all of the answers right now is heartbreaking,” said Lt. General Karsten Heckl, GC, 1 MEF, in a statement. “Our hearts break for their friends and families. We pray they find comfort during this difficult time.”

The Associated Press reports that several Camp Pendleton training accidents involving those types of vehicles have occurred in the last decade, but none have been as deadly as the accident last week.

In 2017, 14 Marines and one Navy sailor were hospitalized after their vehicle hit a natural gas line at the camp, igniting a fire that engulfed the landing craft.

And in 2011, a Marine died when an amphibious assault vehicle in a training exercise sank offshore of the camp.

The military will now try to find and recover the bodies of the eight missing troops, reports the news agency.

Create a free account to join the conversation!

Already have an account?

Log in

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Eight Service Members Presumed Dead After Marine Training Accident Off California Coast