Lt. Col. Michael Regner, commander of the unit involved in July’s amphibious assault vehicle accident, was relieved of his command on Tuesday by Lt. Gen. Karsten S. Heckl, commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, the Marine Corps said.
Regner, the former 1/4 Battalion Landing Team commander with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was relieved on Tuesday “because of a loss of confidence in his ability to command following the incident at amphibious assault vehicle that took place off the coast of southern California on July 30, 2020, ”said a Marine Corps press release.
The incident AAV was returning to the Somerset amphibious transport dock after conducting a training raid on San Clemente Island, Calif., When it “quickly sank” in about 1,500 meters of water with 15 Marines and a sailor on board.
Half of the Marines managed to escape the vehicle, but one, Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, a 19-year-old from New Braunfels, Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene, while two other Marines were rushed to hospital, Marine Corps Times has previously reported.
Still aboard the AAV when it sank were Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, Calif., A rifleman, Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, Calif., Rifleman, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wis., Rifleman, US Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif., Hospital man, Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 20, of Bend, Ore., A rifleman, Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 22, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman, Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 18, of Portland, Ore., A rifleman and Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, Riverside, Calif., Rifleman.
The sinking was the deadliest training accident in AAV history, Marine Corps Times has previously reported.
The bodies of the eight deceased soldiers were collected with the vehicle.
“Although Command Investigation has compiled a substantial amount of information and data that formed the basis of Heckl’s decision, it is still ongoing as the Marine Corps continues to investigate, assess all relevant information and take appropriate action, ”the press release said.