Marine Officer Blames Unhealthy Info for Sinking Tragedy

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — A Marine Corps battalion commander testified Friday that looking back he would have halted the train that killed 9 of his Marines whose amphibious assault car sank off the Southern California coast however on the time he didn’t have correct info to make such a choice.

Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner stated his selections had been primarily based partly on what different commanders instructed him, together with that every one the Marines had accomplished their swim certifications and that the growing old autos they had been in had been fastened and had been prepared for the mission.

He stated he was additionally unaware that the Navy had modified plans that day and didn’t launch a security boat.

“Had I identified that on the time, I might have stated ‘No we’re not going to enter the ocean with out a security boat,'” Regner stated.

Regner gave his account to a three-officer panel at a Board of Inquiry. That panel will subject a advice to the commanding common of Regner’s unit as as to if the embellished officer, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, needs to be thought-about for discharge simply shy of his 20-year mark and be denied retirement advantages.

Nevertheless, a choice is not anticipated till later this month and can comply with Boards of Inquiry pending for different officers, together with one scheduled for subsequent Tuesday.

A Marine Corps investigation discovered that insufficient coaching, shabby upkeep and poor judgment by leaders led to the July 30, 2020, sinking of the amphibious assault car in one of many deadliest Marine coaching accidents in many years.

The car — a sort of seafaring tank — had 16 folks aboard when it sank quickly in 385 toes of water off the coast of San Clemente Island. Seven Marines had been rescued because the vessel was returning to a Navy ship on a coaching train.

Regner was relieved of command of the touchdown staff of the first Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, fifteenth Marine Expeditionary Unit, shortly after the sinking. A Marine Corps assertion on the time stated his elimination was primarily based on a “substantial quantity of data and knowledge” and cited a lack of belief.

The federal government argued at Friday’s listening to that whereas Regner will not be the one one in charge for the tragedy, his “substandard” management set the groundwork for issues to go as badly as they did.

Lt. Col. Michael McDonald stated within the army’s closing assertion that Regner determined to threat sending his Marines who had been inexperienced and had not accomplished their coaching, together with how one can escape the autos, into the ocean.

“That was simply an absolute comedy of errors,” McDonald stated. “This did not come out of the blue.”

Regner’s lawyer stated the panel’s job is to find out if Regner is of worth to the Marine Corps and has potential for future service, which he argued his shopper clearly has demonstrated.

“He’s by no means shirked his duties,” stated Maj. Cory Carver, Regner’s lawyer.

Regner turned emotional when he talked about how he has served his nation his “total maturity,” turning into a Marine as the USA went to struggle following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror assaults.

He stated he has excelled all through his profession, together with within the final 18 months after he was relieved from his command and assigned to a different job.

“Hell I grew up on this,” Regner stated, wiping a tear. “My dad was a Marine. I used to be raised by the Marine Corps.”

Regner stated he was conscious that 12 of the 13 amphibious assault autos his Marines could be utilizing within the coaching had issues however {that a} fellow battalion commander who abroad the autos assured him they’d be fastened earlier than the train.

He stated he tried to get his Marines further coaching within the water and warned senior leaders that his troops had by no means accomplished one of these train.

He stated he was constrained by quite a lot of elements together with the truth that Marines needed to squeeze of their preparations after being deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border beneath the Trump administration, after which they confronted restrictions as a result of coronavirus pandemic that interrupted their coaching.

However he stated he was led to imagine by an organization commander that every one had been licensed as swimmers, although two of the troops had not.

Different Marines are anticipated to face attainable discharge. Col. Christopher J. Bronzi, who supervised Regner, was relieved of command of the fifteenth Marine Expeditionary Unit final yr.

The panel was anticipated to overview 6,000 pages of investigative stories and proof earlier than making its resolution.

The Marines use the autos to move troops and their gear from Navy ships to land. The armored autos outfitted with machine weapons and grenade launchers appear like tanks as they roll ashore for seaside assaults, with Marines pouring out of them to take up positions.

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