Marine Corps fires commander after 9 service members died when their amphibious assault vehicle sank into the sea

Ryan Pickrell
·2 min read
  • The Marine Corps has decided to fire the commander of the unit involved in an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) accident that left nine service members dead in July, the Marine Corps said in a press statement Tuesday evening.

  • The Marine Corps said that Lt. Col. Michael Regner, the commander of Battalion Landing Team 1/4 attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was relieved "due to a loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command as a result of the assault amphibious vehicle mishap."

  • The Marine Corps investigation into the AAV accident that killed eight Marines and a Navy sailor is still ongoing.

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The Marine Corps has fired the commander of the unit involved in the tragic amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) accident in July that left eight Marines and one Navy sailor dead, the Marine Corps said in a statement Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Michael Regner, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion 4th Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit was relieved of his command Tuesday by Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, who commands I Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Marine Corps explained in its statement that Regner was relieved "due to a loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command as a result of the assault amphibious vehicle mishap that took place off the coast of Southern California" on July 30.

In late July, an AAV, a 26-ton tracked amphibious vehicle built to move Marines between ship and shore, sank rapidly off the coast of California during a training exercise. Of the 16 troops in the vehicle at the time of the accident, less than half survived.

Eight Marines and a Navy sailor died. Most appear to have never made it out of the sinking vehicle, which was recovered days after it sank. The training incident, the deadliest in the nearly five-decade history of the Corps' AAVs, is currently under investigation.

The Corps explained in its statement that "although the Command Investigation has compiled a substantial amount of information and data which formed the basis for Heckl's decision, it is still ongoing as the Marine Corps continues to investigate, assess all relevant information, and take appropriate actions."

Regner was commissioned as an infantry officer in 2002. He completed multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and he also worked on war plans relating to Iran, served as an aide to the commander of US Central Command, and contributed to strategic planning for the Defeat-ISIS Coalition, among other assignments. He took command of the 1/4 in June of last year.

The Marine Corps did not say who will be replacing Regner as the new unit commander but noted that "the Marines and Sailors of the 15th MEU continue to train in preparation for crisis and contingency response."

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