Two Marines connected to the July 30, 2020, sinking of an amphibious assault vehicle will face boards in early January that will determine their future in the Corps.
A board of inquiry for Lt. Col. Michael Regner, the former commander of Battalion Landing Team 1/4, will be held on Jan. 4, while Gunnery Sgt. John Lacea, the former platoon sergeant for the AAV platoon will face an administrative separation board, according to a release.
Both boards are scheduled to be completed by Jan. 7.
“The purpose of these boards is to give officers and enlisted personnel a full and impartial hearing at which they may respond to and rebut the allegations which form the basis for separation for cause or retirement in the current grade or a lesser grade, and present matters favorable to their case on the issues of separation and, if applicable, characterization of service as necessary,” the release noted.
On July 30, 2020, a platoon of AAVs carrying infantry Marines from the battalion landing team were returning to the transport dock Somerset from San Clemente Island, California, after completing a training raid as part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
On the return trip one vehicle sank resulting in the deaths of eight Marines and one sailor.
Multiple investigations into the sinking found the vehicle involved was in an unacceptable state of repair, both the AAV crew and platoon failed to follow standard operating procedures, and the infantry Marines on board did not have the necessary training.
One Marine on board had failed his swim qualification, while the sailor, Hospitalman Christopher Gnem may have never passed a swim qualification, his stepfather, Peter Vienna, told Marine Corps Times in April.
It was up to Regner to ensure all the Marines in 1/4 received proper training before boarding an AAV for waterborne operations.
Regner was fired from his role as commander of 1/4 in Oct. 2020 for his role in the sinking.
In December, the Marine Corps announced it was stopping all waterborne training and pulling AAVs from future deployments, unless a crisis happens, due to the “state of the amphibious vehicle program (the program that manages both AAVs and ACVs).”
Former 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Keith Brenize is currently going through a board of inquiry that will determine his fate in the Marine Corps.
Brenize’s board of inquiry started on Dec. 6 and is in recess until February 2022.
Multiple witnesses at Brenize’s board testified that the platoon failed to follow the standard operating procedures, a failure that may have played in a role in the accident.
They testified that it was on Lacea and the other leaders in the platoon to ensure that the procedures were followed.