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2nd Top Marine Gets Boot Over Island Training Accident That Killed 9 in 2020

Posted by 
Times of San Diego
Times of San Diego
 7 days ago
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Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi. Image via hqmc.marines.mil

The U.S. Marine Corps announced Wednesday that another high-ranking officer has been relieved of duty over an ocean-training accident that killed nine service members near San Clemente Island last summer.

Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi, commander of the 1st Marine Division when the amphibious-assault vehicle the Camp Pendleton-based personnel were aboard sank off the coast of northern San Diego County, had been assigned to the post of inspector general of the Marine Corps following the disaster.

Last month, Gen. David Berger, commandant of the USMC, suspended Castellvi from all military duties. Berger’s latest decision regarding Castellvi permanently removed him from the IG position, said USMC public-affairs Maj. Jorge Hernandez.

“In addition, the commandant took adverse administration action against him,” Hernandez said. “The commandant personally and formally counseled him for his failure to properly train the Marines and sailors for whom he was entrusted and for the inadequate evaluation of the AAV platoon before it was attached to the 15th (Marine Expeditionary Unit).”

Such a reprimand “typically prevents an officer from being promoted or serving in a role where he/she would be charged with the responsibility of caring for Marines and sailors,” the spokesman noted.

Eight Marine Corps riflemen and a Navy hospital corpsman ranging in age from 18 to 22 died when the amphibious troop-transport vehicle foundered late on the afternoon of July 30 during a maritime training mission about 80 miles west of Encinitas and went down in water nearly 400 feet deep.

Seven members of the crew aboard the AAV were able to escape the sinking craft and survived.

The body of one Marine was recovered shortly after the accident. The naval Undersea Rescue Command recovered the other victims’ remains from the sea floor eight days later.

In March, the commanding officer of the 15th MEU, Col. Christopher Bronzi, was relieved of command “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command following completion of the command investigation into the assault-amphibious-vehicle mishap,” according to a USMC statement.