- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The commander of a Marine Corps battalion has been fired in connection with the drowning deaths of seven Marines and one sailor in late July when their amphibious assault vehicle sank during exercises off the coast of southern California.

Lt. Gen. Karsten S. Heckl, commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force, relieved Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner “due to a loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command,” Marine Corps officials said.

Lt. Col. Regner was commander of 1 Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment on July 30, 2020 when his unit was training at San Clemente Island in California. The unit was returning to the USS Somerset, an amphibious transport ship, when one of the AAVs began taking on water. It rapidly sank, trapping the victims inside.

The remains of the Marines and the sailor were recovered about a week later after an intensive search in almost 400 feet of water.

“Although the command investigation has compiled a substantial amount of information and data which formed the basis for Heckle’s decision, it is still ongoing as the Marine Corps continues to investigate, assess all relevant information and take appropriate actions,” officials said.

During an August 24, 2020 memorial service, Lt. Col. Regner said the victims represented what is finest about the country.

“We remember them as they slip their earthly bonds, to give us overwatch from on high with God,” he said.

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