An incident involving Marines embarked with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, in Italy is currently under investigation, according to Corps officials.
The Corps provided few details of the incident, but Marines aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock New York recently ported in Gaeta, Italy, on April 21 for a regularly scheduled port visit and left the area on April 25. The ship is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the 26th MEU.
“Regarding an incident involving alleged misconduct of 26th MEU Marines in Gaeta, Italy, I cannot comment on the ongoing investigation,” Capt. Natalie Poggemeyer, a spokeswoman for the 26th MEU, told Marine Corps Times in an email. “The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps take all cases of misconduct very seriously and NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service] is working with local law enforcement officials to investigate the alleged incidents.”
It’s been a busy and bumpy deployment for the 26th MEU. On May 19, Lt. Col. Marcus J. Mainz, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, embarked with the 26th MEU, was relieved of his command.
Corps officials have provided few details surrounding the abrupt firing, and it is unclear if the incident in Italy is connected.
In a press release sent in late May the Corps said the commander was fired “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to continue to lead the battalion.”
The firing was the latest in a string of incidents to plague the 26th MEU.
In early April, the 26th MEU suffered two air mishaps while conducting exercises in Djibouti as part of exercise Alligator Dagger. An AV-8B Harrier crashed shortly after takeoff and the pilot ejected, and separately a CH-53E Super Stallion suffered structural damage while landing at Arta Beach, Djibouti.
The pilots in both incidents were ok. The remainder of Alligator Dagger was canceled, and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command temporarily halted flight operations in the region.
The MEU recently took part in an annual exercise in Jordan dubbed Eager Lion. That exercise culminated on April 26, a day after the New York left Gaeta, Italy.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.