Marines Accident: 4 Killed During Sweep for Unexploded Ammunition

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 12:46 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Four Marines were killed in an accident at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Wednesday during a sweep for unexploded ordnance.

The Marines were doing maintenance on a live fire training range when the accident happened. The Marines who were killed were explosive ordnance disposal technicians. No live fire occurred at the time of the accident.

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The Los Angeles Times reported the accident occurred on the Whiskey-Zulu artillery range in the central portion of the base, where a live-fire exercise was scheduled for Wednesday. The Marines released limited details of the accident.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment at the Marine base is responsible for clearing the firing ranges of unexploded bombs and artillery shells between training exercises.

The Detachment also teaches military personnel to identify and avoid deadly ordnance, provides technical expertise to local, state, and federal law enforcement, and serves as a 24-hour crisis response team on base.

The Marines announced that the identities of the victims will be announced 24 hours after their families have been notified.

"We offer our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines lost today in this tragic accident," Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Our first priority is to provide the families with the support they need during this difficult time."

Wednesday's incident was the deadliest accident at Camp Pendleton since 2004 and the 10th similar incident in which military personnel died since 2004.

On Jan. 22, 2004, a UH-1N Huey helicopter crashed at Camp Pendleton after striking a power line during a night training flight, killing all four Marines on board.

In March, seven Marines based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., were killed during mortar training at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada.

The premature explosion of the 60-millimeter mortar round in the Nevada incident was determined to have been caused by human error, according to the Marine Corps. The newspaper said a lieutenant colonel, a captain, and a chief warrant officer were fired from their command after the investigation.

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