LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A hearing on Capitol Hill was held on Tuesday, nearly a year after eight Marines and a sailor were killed in a training accident off the coast of San Clemente Island.
The victims were identified as:
- Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, Calif.
- Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, Calif.
- Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, Calif.
- U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif.
- Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wis.
- Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore.
- Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, TX.
- Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore.
Two fathers of two fallen marines gave emotional testimony and investigations revealed the deaths on July 30, 2020, were completely “preventable.”
The amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) was full of leaks and not maintained, according to parents who testified, and the men had no training on how to escape.
“Why were AAVs not sea-worthy assigned to a unit and deployed as America’s maritime response force? Why was my son and others not given egress training which would have better prepared him and others for such an emergency?” said Peter Ostrovsky, the father of one of the fallen marines, before the House Armed Services Committee. “A week before the AAV incident, Jack Ryan told me about his concerns with the AAVs and that they sink all the time. It was hard for me to believe that statement but now I know there was more to the story that was the basis for his concern.”
Peter Vienna, who lost his son U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, also spoke on Tuesday via Zoom.
He said the day his son died, there were no rescue boats in the water, the AAV had just lost 23 gallons of transmission fluid and had leaks inside.
“I also refuse to call what happened on July 30th a mishap. The definition of which is an unlucky accident. What actually occurred was a predictable outcome, the reckless disregard for human life… the lives they were supposed to protect,” Vienna said. “When the Marine Corps briefed us on the results of the investigation, we were shocked and disappointed. By the recklessness, negligence and lack of duty of care for our son and all of the sailors and Marines in his company.:
Marine Corps officials agreed that the deaths could have been prevented.
“The sinking of this AAV and the deaths of eight marines and one sailor were preventable. We failed these brave young men,” said Marine Corps Asst. Commandant General Gary Thomas