The former commanding officer of the the battalion landing team involved in the 2020 deadly assault amphibious vehicle sinking off the San Diego coast could be kicked out of the service months before he’s eligible for retirement.

A board of inquiry into his involvement began on Camp Pendleton Tuesday — the second of several planned administrative boards for Marines after an investigation found they bore some responsibility for the tragedy that cost eight young Marines and a sailor their lives. A previously announced administrative separation board for an unnamed platoon sergeant was postponed Tuesday.

Attorneys for Lt. Col. Michael Regner told the three officers that comprise the board Tuesday that Regner accepts full responsibility for what happened under his command but that the 19-year Marine Corps officer does not deserve to be kicked out of the Marines.

“He’s owned it,” said Maj. Cory Carver, one of Regner’s defense attorneys. However, Carver said, the law does not justify his separation from service just six months ahead of his 20-year mark when he’d be eligible for a military retirement.

Advertisement

“There’s no legal basis for separation in this case,” Carver said.

The government’s attorney — which, unlike a court-martial, is not considered to be a prosecutor at the board — said investigations into the fatal accident show Regner’s performance in his job was “substandard,” and that he failed to properly prepare, plan and execute the mission that day.

“(Regner’s) substandard performance set the conditions for the sinking of the amtrack last summer,” Lt. Col. Michael McDonald, the government’s lawyer, told the board. AAVs are commonly referred to as “amtracks” among Marines.

On July 30, 2020, a Marine Corps assault amphibious vehicle carrying 15 Marines and a sailor broke down and sank just off San Clemente Island as it was making its way back to the amphibious transport dock Somerset. The 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.

U.S. Marines operate AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicles into the well deck of the amphibious landing dock USS Somerset.

Marines with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, operate assault amphibious vehicles into the well deck of the amphibious landing dock Somerset during training in the eastern Pacific.

(Staff Sgt. Kassie McDole/15th Marine Expeditionary Unit)

Three investigations — two by the Marines and one by the Navy — found a series of failures contributed to the tragedy, including mechanical problems with the vehicles, communications problems and missing swim and water evacuation training. One Marine Corps investigation found the vehicle that sank was in such poor mechanical condition that it should have never been in the water that day.

Further, the first time battalion personnel had embarked on AAVs during waterborne operations was that very day, during their transit from the ship to the island.

While the military board of inquiry functions similarly to a trial, there are significant differences, Col. Nathan Miller, the board’s senior officer, told Regner at the beginning of Tuesday’s hearing in a military courtroom on the base.

Unlike a criminal trial, the board only has to determine whether a preponderance of evidence supports the government’s contention the officer’s performance was “substandard.”

Both the government and Regner are expected to call witnesses during the proceeding. Carver told the panel that Regner intends to testify as well.

On display at Tuesday’s hearing was the tight-knit nature of the Marine Corps community involved. During questioning from McDonald, one panel member said he’d worked with Regner when they were both assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton. McDonald noted that another panelist’s daughter has babysat his kids.

All of the officers involved said their familiarity would not affect their roles in the board and the defense did not object.

Family members of three of the Marines killed also were in the courtroom Tuesday, including the parents of Pfc. Jack Ostrovsky and the mothers of Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco and Pfc. Evan Bath.

The families did not comment on the proceeding specifically but some plan to attend upcoming boards on the base as well.

A Marine Corps spokesperson from IMEF, which is conducting the boards, declined to say whose boards are upcoming or provide the schedules Tuesday.

Regner’s board is now in recess as the panel members take time to review the investigations and other evidence submitted by the government and Regner. Testimony is expected to begin Thursday.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Benedict Cumberbatch reveals he got nicotine poisoning THREE times filming The Power Of The Dog

Benedict Cumberbatch has detailed how he got nicotine poisoning three times during…

Mastriano Has ‘Heard Nothing From The RNC’ Despite Ronna McDaniel’s Claim That She Is Working Hard For Election Integrity

During an appearance on Newsmax TV this week, State Senator Douglas Mastriano…

Giovanna Fletcher ‘claimed £30k from the government’s furlough scheme’

Giovanna Fletcher reportedly claimed up to £30,000 from the government’s furlough scheme.…

Trump urges Republicans to halt infrastructure negotiations until they get a majority

Partisan wrangling over a $1.2 billion infrastructure deal erupted into the open…