MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Service members and families gathered on the morning of Aug. 21 to pay tribute to nine fallen service members of Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The memorial was held at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s Camp Horno area to honor eight Marines and a Sailor from the 15th MEU who died in an assault amphibious vehicle mishap July 30:
Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, California
Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California
Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (Fleet Marine Force) Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California
Lance Cpl. Jack-Ryan Ostrovsky, 20, of Bend, Oregon
Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas
Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 22, of Harris, Texas
Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 18, of Portland, Oregon
Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California
Gnem was posthumously advanced to the rank of petty officer third class and posthumously awarded his enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist qualification, having met the criteria set by the Navy for both before his death.
Ostrovsky was posthumously advanced to the rank of lance corporal, having met the criteria set by the Marine Corps before his death.
"...I remain confident that the days ahead are shot through with hope – hope because men like them had the courage, the fortitude, and the commitment to train for and dedicate their lives in defense of this great nation.” Col. Christopher J. Bronzi, 15th MEU's commanding officer
Many Marines and Sailors took the opportunity to meet the families of their fallen brothers and offer condolences prior to the start of the ceremony.
A row of battlefield crosses and portraits of each Marine and Sailor were displayed at the outdoor event.
Col. Christopher J. Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th MEU provided opening remarks.
“I think you’ll have an opportunity this morning to interact with and meet some of the men and women that knew your husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers better than anyone, other than yourselves,” said Bronzi. “As we experience this deep sadness at the loss of our brothers, I remain confident that the days ahead are shot through with hope – hope because men like them had the courage, the fortitude, and the commitment to train for and dedicate their lives in defense of this great nation.”
This was followed by an invocation from Navy Lt. Samuel Cho, BLT 1/4 chaplain, and the national anthem played by the 1st Marine Division Band.
Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner, commanding officer of BLT 1/4, addressed attendees.
“As our fallen hail from across this country and represent what’s finest about it, this truly is a national loss,” said Regner. “Our fallen brothers honor us by the manner with which they lived their lives, and we will never forget the last time we saw them … and now we remember them as they slip their earthly bonds, to give us overwatch from on high with God.”
The service concluded with 1st Sgt. Daniel Jacobson of Bravo Company, BLT 1/4 conducting the final roll call, a military ritual which pays tribute to fallen members of a unit by calling their names in formation for the last time in the Marine Corps to signify their absence, followed by the firing of a three-volley salute and the playing of “Taps”.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy E. Black; Lt. Gen. Karsten S. Heckl, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force; Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, commanding general, 1st Marine Division; and Rear Adm. Gregory N. Todd, Chaplain of the United States Marine Corps.
Final funeral arrangements for each Marine and Sailor will be made individually by their families.