Remains of 7 Marines, 1 sailor recovered from sunken tank off San Clemente Island

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Crews deploy a remotely operated vehicle from the deck of a ship on Aug. 3, 2020, in the recovery of the seven Marines and one sailor missing off the coast San Clemente Island. (U.S. Navy / Lt. Curtis Khol)

Crews deploy a remotely operated vehicle from the deck of a ship on Aug. 3, 2020, in the recovery of the seven Marines and one sailor missing off the coast San Clemente Island. (U.S. Navy / Lt. Curtis Khol)

The military on Friday recovered the bodies of eight troops who went missing after their seafaring tank sunk last week near San Clemente Island, officials said.

The remains of the seven Marines and one sailor will be taken to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where they will be prepared for burial. The bodies will be carried by military pallbearers and later released to their families, the U.S. Marine Corps said in a news release.

They have been identified 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.

The 26-ton amphibious assault vehicle sank July 30 into waters hundreds of feet deep with a total of 15 Marines and one Navy sailor aboard.

“Our hearts and thoughts of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are with the families of our recovered Marines and Sailor,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort.”

All of the Marines were stationed at Camp Pendleton and attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The sunken vehicle has also since been recovered. What caused it to plunge remains under investigation.

The craft was one of 13 amphibious tanks that had just finished an exercise. It was heading to be loaded onto a Navy ship when it began taking on water about a half-mile from the island, officials said.

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