Hundreds attend vigil for Montebello Marine presumed dead in training accident off San Clemente Island

Local news

Hundreds gathered Wednesday outside the Montebello home of a fallen Marine who was presumed dead in an amphibious assault vehicle training accident near San Clemente Island last week. 

Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco, 21, was among 16 aboard the craft last Thursday when it began taking on water and quickly sank. Only eight were rescued from the water, but one later died at the scene.

Crews searched for days but ultimately called off search and rescue efforts and said those still missing, including Barranco, are presumed dead.

Barranco’s mother, Lupita Garcia, was left overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for her family as she stood among the crowd honoring her son outside their home Wednesday.

“I knew a lot of people were going to come up, but seeing it… amazing,” she said.

Friends and family said they took comfort in knowing Barranco died doing what he loved.

His sister, Selma Barranco, said her brother always wanted to be a service member, recalling how he would dress up as a G.I. Joe for Halloween.

A group of bikers drove past the memorial in a show of support, while the Marine Corps League of East L.A., clad in red uniforms, also arrived to honor the young man.

“We just want to express our love for his sacrifice for our country,” said Aurora Rueda of the Marine Corps League. “He’s given the biggest sacrifice, which is his life.”

Military officials on Tuesday said they located the seafaring tank and found human remains, but recovery efforts are still underway.

“Once I have my son’s body, that’s going to be the closure for me,” Barranco’s mother said. “I’m just waiting for that.”

Barranco and all of the other Marines aboard the sunken tank were in the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. 

Others presumed dead include 19-year-old Pfc. Bryan Baltierra of Corona, 21-year-old Cpl. Cesar Villanueva of Riverside, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Wisconsin, U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Oregon, Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Texas and Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Oregon.

“My heart goes out to the other families as well, because we’re going through the same thing,” Garcia said.

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