RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- An 18-year-old from Corona and a 21-year-old newlywed from Riverside are among the eight U.S. servicemembers presumed dead after a training accident involving an amphibious vehicle off San Clemente Island.
A memorial of flowers sits below the Marine Corps flag outside the home of Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra. The 18-year-old Marine from Corona died on the anniversary of his enlistment into the Marine Corps, his mother said.
3 Marines from Southland presumed dead in accident
"He said, 'Mom don't worry. I don't want you to have to worry about me. I'm going to take classes, I know it's online, and I want to get a degree because I want to build my future so you don't have to worry about me,'" recalled Baltierra's mother, Evelyn Baltierra.
Cpl. Cesar Villanueva, 21, of Riverside was a newlywed. Sarah, his wife of one month, says her husband was a beautiful soul.
"He was more than just a man in uniform. He was a great guy, the greatest person I ever got a chance to meet," she said.
Baltierra and Villanueva, along with 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco of Montebello, were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Pendleton.
Their group was on an amphibious vehicle that sank during a training mission. On Sunday, the search and rescue operation was called off and turned into a recovery effort.
Marine killed, 8 missing in accident near San Clemente Island
The three are among seven Marines and one Navy sailor who are presumed dead following the accident.
Villanueva says she wants to know what happened and why.
"Personally, I would like to see some action taken to ensure this doesn't happen again, to make sure that no other family, no other wife, brothers siblings have to go through this again," she said.
Eight Marines were rescued, and one other died at a San Diego hospital. Two others remain in critical condition.
The military is investigating and has suspended all amphibious training missions for now.