Montebello Marine killed in coastal training exercise

From City News Service

MONTEBELLO — A member of the U.S. Marine Corps from Montebello was among eight Marines recovered from an amphibious vehicle that sank during a training exercise near San Clemente Island last month.

Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, a rifleman with Bravo Company, was among those killed in the incident July 30.

Military officials are preparing to transfer the remains of the Marines to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be prepared for burial.

The remains were recovered Aug. 7, eight days after the Marines went missing.

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

A group of service members and supporters went on an eight-mile hike Aug. 8 in Carlsbad to honor the dead.

The U.S. military announced Aug. 4 it had located the amphibious assault vehicle that sank off the coast of San Diego County, killing the nine young servicemen, and confirmed the presence of human remains where the vessel came to rest on the seafloor.

The naval Undersea Rescue Command made the discovery near San Clemente Island Aug. 3 using video systems remotely operated aboard the HOS Dominator, a merchant vessel whose crew specializes in undersea search and rescue.

The amphibious troop-transport vehicle was en route to a waiting ship during a maritime training mission about 80 miles west of Encinitas when it floundered for unknown reasons about 5:45 p.m. July 30, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The 26-ton vessel went down roughly 1,600 yards from a beach on the northwest side of the island in water nearly 400 feet deep.

Seven members of the Camp Pendleton-based crew survived the accident.

Medics took two of them to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where both were admitted in critical condition. One was later upgraded to stable condition.   

The other five rescued Marines received clean bills of health and returned to their units.

Rescue crews searched in vain for nearly two days for more survivors or their bodies, finally concluding the operation Aug. 1 after 40 hours of scanning some 1,325 square miles of water by sea and air.