Remains of 7 Marines, 1 sailor recovered from sunken tank off California coast

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FILE – In this Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, file photo, provided by the U.S. Navy, Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator off the coast of Southern California. Authorities on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, recovered the bodies of nine people killed when a Marine landing craft sank in hundreds of feet of water on July 30 off the Southern California coast, officials said. (Lt. Curtis Khol/U.S. Navy via AP, File)

SAN DIEGO (News Nation) — The military recovered the bodies of seven Marines and one sailor after their landing craft sank last week off the Southern California coast, a statement from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said Friday.

The remains will be flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be prepared for burial by mortuary affairs teams. The remains will then be released to the families “in accordance with their wishes,” the statement said.

The amphibious vehicle sank in 385 feet of water as it headed back to a Navy ship after completing routine training, the military said.

The craft sank less than a mile from San Clemente Island off the coast of San Diego. A diving and salvage ship carrying special equipment arrived on Thursday and recovered the bodies and the vehicle, the military said.

Our News Nation affiliate KTLA identified the Marines and sailor as:

  • Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona
  • Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello
  • Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a rifleman
  • U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton
  • Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Oregon, a rifleman
  • Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman
  • Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Oregon, a rifleman
  • Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, a rifleman

Another Marine, Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas, died at the scene after being rescued. His remains were transferred to the Delaware base on Wednesday.

“We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort” to their families, said a statement from Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The commandant of the Marine Corps has suspended all waterborne operations of its more than 800 amphibious assault vehicles until the cause of the accident is determined.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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