Marine Corps IDs 9 Troops Lost in Tragic AAV Accident

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MH-60 helicopter conducts aerial search and rescue
A U.S. Navy MH-60 helicopter conducts aerial search and rescue while sailors operate a rigid-hull inflatable boat during search and rescue operations following an AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicle mishap off the coast of Southern California, July 30, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Kassie McDole)

The Marine Corps has identified eight Marines and one sailor who died after their amphibious assault vehicle sank during a July 30 training exercise in the Pacific.

The AAV, which sank after taking on water while training with other assets belonging to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the vicinity of San Clemente Island, had 16 troops aboard in total. One Marine, Lance Cpl. Guillermo Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene, then taken by first responders to Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, officials with I Marine Expeditionary Force said Monday in a news release.

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While seven other troops were rescued and two subsequently hospitalized, eight more remained missing. On Sunday, following a massive search-and-rescue effort involving Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps vessels and aircraft, the Marine Corps announced that the troops were presumed dead.

The missing include:

  • Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, California
  • Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California
  • Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin
  • U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California
  • Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Oregon
  • Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas
  • Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Oregon
  • Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California

All the Marines, including Perez, were riflemen with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, assigned to the 15th MEU. Gnem was a hospital corpsman assigned to the same unit.

The injured include a Marine rifleman with Bravo company and a Marine assault amphibious vehicle crewmember with Mechanized Company, BLT 1/4, who were not identified by name, according to the I MEF release. Both were taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital and were initially in critical condition; the AAV crewmember has been upgraded to stable condition.

Recovery efforts are ongoing for the lost troops. The Marine Corps has also suspended all AAV water operations as officials investigate the cause of the deadly mishap.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

Related: Search Ends for 7 Marines and 1 Sailors in California AAV Mishap

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