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‘Jack loved being a Marine’: Parents of private first class killed in AAV accident remember their son

Pfc. Jack Ostrovsky was born a fighter long before he joined the Marine Corps, his mother, Lynn Ostrovsky told Marine Corps Times on Tuesday.

The young Marine was born premature at only 26 weeks, forcing him to be rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency care immediately after he was born, the Marine’s mother said.

But he grew up to be adventurous, kind and motivated young man, Peter Ostrovsky, the Marine’s father said in the phone call.

The Marine, a 20-year-old native of Bellingham, Washington, was one of eight Marines who died, along with one sailor, when their amphibious assault vehicle sunk during a July 30 training incident off the coast of California.

The vehicle was returning to amphibious transport dock Somerset after completing the exercise when it began taking on water and “rapidly sank” in 385 feet of water, roughly 1,500 meters off the shores of San Clemente Island, California.

One Marine, Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, was able to escape the vehicle, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other seven Marines along with one sailor, U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California, a hospital corpsman, remained missing at the time of the incident.

“Our hearts sank,” Lynn Ostrovsky said when she first heard that her son was involved in the incident and still missing.

It wasn’t until Aug. 2 that the Corps announced that the missing service members were presumed dead. But for Peter Ostrovsky, he knew there wasn’t much hope as soon as he learned the details of the incident.

Jack Ostrovsky, “was a very strong swimmer, so I knew if he could float he’s going to survive,” his father said. “But I knew if he was inside that vehicle, I knew what the result would be,” he said.

The AAV along with the remains of the missing service members were found on August 4, and pulled out of the ocean on Aug. 7.

‘I feel so much pain inside’

When Jack Ostrovsky decided to join the Corps it was no surprise to his parents.

The young man was also active: He enjoyed hiking, skiboarding, swimming and all the outdoor adventures the Pacific Northwest offered, his parents told Marine Corps Times.

After graduating high school he looked into law enforcement and firefighting, but told his parents he wanted to more, quickly setting his sites on a career in the military as an infantryman.

Before enlisting in the Corps he took part in an Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at a nearby community where he took part in two training exercises, returning home ecstatic about the experience, despite facing the cold and damp climate of the Pacific Northwest.

“Jack came back just wide-eyed and excited,” Peter Ostrovsky said. “He was soaked and wet and shivering and all he could talk about what a great time he had.”

On Memorial Day 2019, shortly before shipping off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Jack Ostrovsky hiked up the steep slopes of the Pilot Butte volcano, in Bend, Oregon, carrying two ammo cans to honor America’s fallen veterans.

Now a Change.org petition with more than 2,700 signatures is circulating, attempting to have a memorial built at the trail for the local fallen Marine.

Once Jack Ostrovsky graduated boot camp his parents knew he made the right choice.

Pfc. Jack Ostrovsky, one of the Marines lost in the July 3 amphibious assault vehicle accident, with his mother Lynn Ostrovsky. (Ostrovsky family)
Pfc. Jack Ostrovsky, one of the Marines lost in the July 3 amphibious assault vehicle accident, with his mother Lynn Ostrovsky. (Ostrovsky family)

“Jack loved being a Marine,” Peter Ostrovsky told Marine Corps Times.

“We loved that he loved being a Marine,” he added.

Eight other families are grieving the tragic and untimely deaths of their loved ones.

“I feel so much pain inside thinking this is not real,” Evelyn Baltierra, the mother of Pfc. Bryan Baltierra, from Corona, California, told Marine Corps Times on August 3.

At 18-years-old Baltierra was the youngest Marine to die in the incident.

He too was excited to serve his country as a Marine, and shipped off to boot camp almost the instant he graduated from high school.

Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 22, from Harris, Texas, was the oldest Marine to die.

He joined the Corps in January of 2017 and had just become a first time father.

The other Marines who died in the vehicle were Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 18, of Portland, Oregon, and Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California.

All eight Marines were riflemen with 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.

“It was pretty rough, it was pretty rough,” Andrew Bath, the father of Pfc. Evan Bath said once he was told his son was missing in the AAV accident.

“I’m just sad because I’ll never get to see him again,” he added.

The remains of the Marines were sent to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where the Corps’ mortuary services prepared the bodies and handed them off to the grieving families.

“It’s very, very difficult,” Peter Ostrovsky said about having to receive the remains of his son.

“It is our obligation to be in Delaware when all of them are brought in, it is our obligation to go down to the unit memorial on the 21 of August, it is our obligation to hold a service for him,” the distraught father said.

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