The battalion commander and battalion sergeant major of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, the unit that lost two rifles in December 2019, were recently relieved for "loss of trust and confidence,” a Marine official confirmed.
The Camp Lejuene, North Carolina, based unit was led by Lt. Col. Clinton Kappel and Sgt. Maj. Elson L. Aviles until they were fired March 12, Task and Purpose first reported.
The decision to fire the two Marines was made by Maj. Gen. David J. Furness, commander of the 2nd Marine Division, 1st Lt. Dan Linfante, division spokesman, told Marine Corps Times on Monday.
”2nd Marine Division must continue to put our subordinate units in the best position to fight and win,” Linfante said. “As such, decisions like this are taken seriously and with the intent of ensuring a given unit’s continued success in future operations.”
The unit lost two rifles while at an on-base training exercise. Both rifles are still missing. After the unit tried unsuccessfully to locate the missing rifles, the Navy Criminal Investigative Service took over the case.
An investigation is still ongoing, an NCIS official told Marine Corps Times.
Linfante did not say whether the missing rifles is what led to the two Marines being relieved.
Kappel took over the battalion in September 2019 and has been replaced by Lt. Col. Ryan Gordinier, Linfante said.
He had enlisted in 1996 and served as radio operator until he earned his commission in 2001, according to an official biography.
Aviles joined the Corps in 1997 and entered the force as a combat engineer, according to his official biography. He was promoted to sergeant major in September 2019.
No new sergeant major yet has been assigned to the unit while the “the battalion’s collective leadership chain” has taken over the sergeant major’s responsibilities, Linfante said.
“3rd Battalion, 6th Marines remains a proficient unit, capable of performing at a high level and carrying out the full spectrum of operations that are expected of an infantry battalion in the Marine Corps,” Linfante said.