Bend Marine among 9 killed in sea-tank sinking off Calif. coast

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A 21-year-old Bend Marine is among the nine killed when a landing craft sank in hundreds of feet of water off the Southern California coast.

Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky and the others were aboard an amphibious assault vehicle that was heading back to a Navy ship Thursday evening after a routine training exercise when it began taking on water about a half-mile from Navy-owned San Clemente Island, off San Diego.

Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, was also among those killed.

Other assault vehicles quickly responded but couldn’t stop the 26-ton, tank-like vehicle from quickly sinking, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

“The assumption is that it went completely to the bottom” several hundred feet below, Osterman said. That was too deep for divers, and Navy and Coast Guard were discussing ways to reach the sunken vehicle to get a view inside it, Osterman said.

Only one of their bodies was found, despite an intense days-long search involving helicopters and boats ranging from inflatables to a Navy destroyer.

Found at the scene was Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels Texas. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit announced on Sunday that the others, from California, Texas, Wisconsin and Oregon, are “presumed dead.”

They include: 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; Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas; and Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California.

“Literally every asset we have available” was mobilized in the search for seven Marines and a Navy corpsman, Osterman said Friday.

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