Remains of missing Marines, sailor recovered after training accident near San Clemente Island

CAMP PENDLETON (KABC) -- The remains of seven Marines and a sailor who died in a training accident near San Clemente Island were recovered on Friday.



Seven Marines, three of them from Southern California, and one Navy sailor were presumed dead on Sunday after going missing when their landing craft sank off during a training exercise July 30 near San Clemente Island.

"Our hearts and thoughts of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are with the families of our recovered Marines and Sailor," said Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort."

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Cpl. Cesar Villanueva of Riverside was just 21 years old and 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."



Officials with the 15th MEU, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), identified the Marine who was killed and seven Marines and one sailor who were presumed dead after the accident.

Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas was pronounced dead at the scene before being transported by helicopter to Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego. He was a rifleman with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/4.

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Officials also identified:

Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wis., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, a hospital corpsman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore. a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

A Marine rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4 and a Marine AAV crewmember with Mechanized Co., BLT 1/4 were injured. Both were transported from the scene to Scripps Memorial Hospital by helicopter.

According to the Marines, the accident happened at about 5:45 p.m. on July 30 when Marines in the amphibious assault vehicle reported taking on water.

Fifteen Marines and one sailor were inside the AAV at the time. Eight Marines were rescued.

All of the Marines involved were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based out of Camp Pendleton.

The I Marine Expeditionary Force is a Marine Air Ground Task Force whose mission is "generating, deploying, and employing ready forces and formations for crisis response, forward presence, major combat operations, and campaigns."

The amphibious assault vehicle involved has been recovered since the training accident.

Officials said the cause of the July 30 incident is under investigation.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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