A Marine officer is facing discharge and potentially losing his retirement benefits over a deadly training mishap that resulted in the death of 9 service members.
The accident occurred in the ocean off the coast of San Clemente in July, 2020, and resulted in the sinking of an amphibious assault vehicle.
This week a Marine Corps panel is convening to determine whether Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner should be discharged.
Shortly after the accident, Regner was relieved of his command.
The hearing is expected to take 4 days.
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Here’s more details on the deadly mishap from Marine Corps Times:
On July 30, 2020, a platoon of AAVs carrying infantry Marines from the battalion landing team were returning to the transport dock Somerset from San Clemente Island, California, after completing a training raid as part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
On the return trip one vehicle sank resulting in the deaths of eight Marines and one sailor.
Multiple investigations into the sinking found the vehicle involved was in an unacceptable state of repair, both the AAV crew and platoon failed to follow standard operating procedures, and the infantry Marines on board did not have the necessary training.
One Marine on board had failed his swim qualification, while the sailor, Hospitalman Christopher Gnem may have never passed a swim qualification, his stepfather, Peter Vienna, told Marine Corps Times in April.
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It was the deadliest training accident involving an AAV in the Corps’ history.
It was up to Regner to make sure all his Marines received adequate training before getting on an AAV for operations in the water.
Ronald Brinegar says
All military personnel, particularly Marines, should have to pass a swimming proficiency test before they complete boot camp/basic training.
Brett Podinker says
Not just Marines. There are MOSs’ that require being able to stay afloat in ALL Branches. As someone who served in 2 Branches ( Navy then Army) I needed it, and so did my brother services Airforce, Marine Corps, and obviously the Coast guard. This is an indictment on all traing for all branches. This “mishap” as they call it, is unacceptable; and needs immediate attention. Your fellow Soldier/ Airman
Jose M Andujar says
It is always a heartbreaking to loose a serviceman. We trained as we fight. Even in best situation when everyone had done their safety requirements someone is going to loose their life. To be fair, let not just pin the responsibility over an officer who is entire career as a marine led by example. I don’t know all the circumstances prior and during the training. If they want to punishes the officer for this tragic accident then let take look at the entire change of command. Pressure to met the standards to look good on reporting card is always has been a issue, but don’t discharge him without his military retirement benefits. Because if you do you are punishing his family who sacrificed a lot to support him. Accidents are going to happen, blame Congress for the lack of maintenance and training money.
REV. DR. OLLIE NELSON - CANDIDATE FOR TENNESSEE 9TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT says
As always, there have to be a “fall-guy”. that is the nature of the beast! No matter what it ultimately falls on the man or woman who is in charge. I don’t feel sorry for them, nine service men are dead.
FORMER MARINE SGT/E-5
Kris Freeman says
In my opinion if this officer had direct supervision and control of this unit, then responsibility to ensure training is on this officer. However, and we all know this, I seriously doubt this officer had direct control/supervision and to discharge him does NOT address the loss of lives or the lack of training or the maintenance of the vehicle. Unless SOP/directives change, this will happen again. The discharge is not any part of a solution, it is making him the ‘fall guy’ – which is political in nature…… follow the chain of command and find out why our taxes are not supporting the military personnel AND equipment. I disagree with discharge without benefits. This officer served many years and to treat him like that is disrespectful to him and every OTHER service personnel AND their families. – Navy Mom!
Ray Manspeaker says
The LT. Commander can not check all the item’s his self. He has personal below him that should be the one’s for this accident. What about the Platoon Leader? He should be the first one to see that everything and everyone is trained and safe!
Gary L Beck says
Every single military personnel and boots should have been qualified in swimming, should have required. But, having swimming proficiency doesn’t mean anyone could have been expected to wiz through high waves or ocean currents. I think superiors “should have considered these factors”. A long shot the loss of life might occur!? The safety of these men didn’t seem to carry much weight.
USMC Combat-veteran, 0311, Vietnam 68-69
Former S/SGT USMC R. Walker says
Platoon SGT’S and squad leaders are NCO’s that are responsible for the safety and training of a platoon. If they inspect the AAV before the operation and find it unsafe or in need of maintenance, it should have been reported to their CO. If they can show that they have followed the chain of command and reported unsafe conditions or actions, they cannot be held accountable for the accident. If they found unsafe equipment, and or personal not properly trained for the mission, and did not report to superrior officers, they are part of the problem. If the comanding officer of this unit had knowledge of an issue with safety of personal, or equipment maintenance required, and did not order action prior to the training mission, he or she should be held responsible.
Robert G. Kutney says
‘Drownproofing’ was the term used for swimming qualifications back in 1967 boot camp @ Parris Island. For all intents and purposes, it was to a lesser degree, similar to ‘Seal’ water survival training. Anyone, I repeat, anyone who failed this rigorous water survival training did not graduate from Marine Corps boot camp…at least when I was there. Period, end of story.
Some drill instructor and his superior officers in the chain of command are responsible for this individual’s death for allowing him to graduate from boot camp without having been certified appropriately in this water survival training.
As far as the vehicle involved in this catastrophe, someone along the way simply ‘rubber stamped’ its operational readiness. As the old military adage applies, “shit rolls down hill.” The Lt. Col. is somewhat responsible, but not totally. A full and impartial investigation is mandatory.
Let’s not forget too, that the military, et al, has been politicized beyond comprehension, even our beloved Corps. When one swears the oath of service, it is to the Constitution of our country and its rule of law, including the uniform which they wear. Our military’s requisites and loyalties have been compromised by the recently defeated, former president, Donald Trump. Military personnel do not swear allegiance to a president, but to the Constitution, of which, that president is sworn to serve, defend, and uphold. Trump did not meet that requisite as CIC, and apparently, the after effects of his unprecedented, unprofessional, unpredictable tenure as our president, is end result of what has transpired since he held office. For example, military members refusing a vaccine because the then president said it was okay to do so, especially Marines. WTF!! For example, these individuals and their refusalbto be vaccinated is totally unacceptable by any military standard, and I blame the former president and his alleged leadership, loyalty, and duty to the Constitution as Commander in Chief. He demanded only loyalty to himself from active duty military, and is responsible for today’s politicalization of our military personnel.
This accident, in my opinion, was a direct result of our military’s non-compliance to the protocols and procedures of their oath to service, its mandatory protocols, procedures, and rules, et al.
This military tribunal needs to place blame for this deadly incident at the top of the chain of command where it deserves to be. It is not necessarily or totally this Lt. Colonel’s fault alone.
The UCMJ needs to be reviewed, revised, and reevaluatd to eliminate compromise and politicalization of the same.
There have always mishaps and accidents in the military and its exercises and training exercises. To scapegoat one man for this deadly mishap would be inappropriate. Investigate the negative aspects of the obvious politicalization of today’s military and its collective leadership. In my opinion, therein lies the overall problem in today’s military.
RGK/USMC/1967-71/MOS-6012/jet engine mech. Flight Line Plane Captain/VMA-211/ Chulai, RVN
phillip COSSTICK says
I FEEL SORRY FOR THE TREATMENT OF LT.COL REGNAR FOR BEING PLACED IN THIS POSITION. NOT KNOWIING ALL THE FACTS DOESN’T HELP. I RETIRED IN 1974 AS A E-7 AND I KNOW HOW THE SERVICE
USED TO OPERATE. BUT IN THIS DAY AND TIME I FEEL THE HIGHER NCO RANKS DON’T SEEM TO BE
AWARE OF IT NOW.
I WAS STATION AT THE BOMARAC MISSILE SQDN IN 1960 WHEN WE HAD A MISSILE CATCH ON FIRE AND BURN DOWN WITH THE MISSILE .IT WAS QUITE A WHILE BEFORE ANY DECISIONS WERE MADE TO GET TO THE CAUSE OF IT. I WAS ONE OF 5 PEOPLE LAST IN THE SHELTER DOING MAINTENANCE.WE WERE ABOUT 40 YARDS AWAY WHEN IT HAPPEN.
BUT AFTER A LONG INVESTATION THE CAUSED WAS FOUND TO BE A MALFUNCTION OF A FUEL AND OXIDIZER BLADDER.THIS WAS FAULTY FROM THE FACTORY. I KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE ACCUSED OF SOMETHING THAT WAS NOT MY FAULT. I AM GLAD NO QUICK CHARGES WERE MADE OR 5 PEOLPE WOULD HAVE BEEN ACCUSED AND DISCHARGED AND THEIR MILITARY CAREER RUINED FOR NO REASON.
I FEEL IN THE LAST 40 YEARS THE QUALITY OF THE PEOPLE HAS REALLY CHANGED.THERE SHOULD BE A LAW PASSED THAT A PERSON RUNNING FOT PRESIDENT MU8ST HAVE SOME SORT OF MILITARY BACKGROUND. WE ARE NOT A FEARED COUNTRY ANY MORE. I FEEL THAT OUR WEAPON SYSTEMS ARE OBOSLETE AND THE PERSONNEL NOT TRAINED TO THE POSITION NEEDED TO PERFORM TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL. CHINA IRAN, IRAQ, RUSSIA DONT FEAR THE US ANYMORE.BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO GAIN. WE WON’T FIGHT BACK WITH THEIR AGRESSION.