CAMP PENDLETON, Calif .– The former battalion landing team commander involved in the deadly 2020 amphibious assault vehicle that sank off the coast of San Diego could be kicked out of service months before it is not eligible for retirement.
A commission of inquiry into his involvement began Tuesday at Camp Pendleton – the second of several scheduled administrative commissions for the Marines after an investigation found they bore some responsibility for the tragedy that claimed the lives of eight young Marines and a sailor. A previously announced administrative separation council for an anonymous platoon sergeant was postponed on Tuesday.
Lawyers for Lt. Col. Michael Regner told the three officers who make up the council on Tuesday that Regner accepts full responsibility for what happened under his command, but that the 19-year-old Marine Corps officer does not deserve not to be kicked out of the Marines.
“He owns it,” said Major Cory Carver, one of Regner’s defense attorneys. However, Carver said, the law does not justify his separation from service just six months before he turned 20 when he would be eligible for military retirement.
“There is no legal basis for separation in this case,” Carver said.
The government attorney – who, unlike a court martial, is not considered a prosecutor on the board of directors – said investigations into the fatal accident showed Regner’s performance in his job was “of substandard ”and that he had not properly prepared, planned and executed the assignment that day.
“(Regner’s) inferior performance set the conditions for the amtrack’s sinking last summer,” Lt. Col. Michael McDonald, government counsel, told the board. AAVs are commonly referred to as “amtracks” among the Marines.
On July 30, 2020, a Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle carrying 15 Marines and one sailor broke down and sank just off San Clemente Island as it returned to the Somerset Amphibious Transport Dock . Marine Battalion Landing Team 1/4, under Regner’s command, was training for a deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit at the time. Eight Marines and the sailor drowned.
Three investigations – two conducted by the Marines and one by the Navy – found that a series of malfunctions contributed to the tragedy, including mechanical problems with the vehicles, communication issues, and missing training for swimming and swimming. water evacuation. A Marine Corps investigation found that the sinking vehicle was in such poor mechanical condition that it should never have been in the water that day.
In addition, the first time that battalion personnel embarked on AAVs during water operations was the same day, when they transited from the ship to the island.
Although the military commission of inquiry works the same way as a trial, there are significant differences, Col. Nathan Miller, a senior commission officer, told Regner at the start of Tuesday’s hearing in a room. military audience of the base.
Unlike a criminal trial, the board need only determine whether a preponderance of evidence supports the government’s contention that the officer’s performance was “substandard”.
The government and Regner are expected to call witnesses during the proceedings. Carver told the panel that Regner also intends to testify.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the close-knit nature of the Marine Corps community involved was on display. During questioning of McDonald’s, a panel member said he worked with Regner when they were both posted to the I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton. McDonald noted that the daughter of another panelist had looked after her children.
All of the officers involved said their familiarity would not affect their roles on the council and the defense did not object.
Family members of three of the slain Marines were also in the courtroom on Tuesday, including Pfc’s parents. Jack Ostrovsky and the mothers of Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco and Pfc. Evan’s bath.
Families have not commented on the procedure in particular, but some also plan to attend the upcoming counseling on base.
A spokesperson for the IMEF Marine Corps, who heads the advice, declined to say what advice is upcoming or provide the timetables on Tuesday.
Regner’s board of directors is now suspended as panel members take the time to review investigations and other evidence submitted by the government and Regner. Testimony is expected to begin Thursday.
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