WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper has paid tribute to the youthful eight Marines and one Sailor, aged 18 to 23, who died in tragic circumstances off the Californian coast on Friday, as the names and origins of the nine service members were released.
"A grateful nation and the Department of Defense grieves the tragic loss of the Marines and Sailor lost in the amphibious assault vehicle accident off the coast of San Clemente Island. Our prayers and condolences are with the family and friends of these brave young men," Esper said late Monday night.
Those who died, the average age of which was twenty, were named as:
- Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas
- Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, California
- Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California
- Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin
- U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California
- Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Oregon
- Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas
- Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 18, of Portland, Oregon
- Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California
"Their service, commitment and courage will always be remembered by the nation they served. While the incident remains under investigation, I want to assure our service members and their families that we are committed to gathering all the facts, understanding exactly how this incident occurred, and preventing similar tragedies in the future.
Pictured - Top row: Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, Navy Seaman Christopher Gnem and Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez; Second Row, Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva and Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky. (Not pictured: Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco).