Marine Corps Relieves Commander In Charge Of Deadly AAV Accident - Task & Purpose

Marine commander fired over deadly amphibious assault vehicle mishap off California coast in July

Author:
Updated:
Original:
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner, the incoming commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (MARDIV), speaks during a change of command ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, June 21, 2019. The ceremony represented the transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability from from Lt. Col. Christopher D. Tolliver, the outgoing commanding officer, to Regner.

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner, the incoming commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (MARDIV), speaks during a change of command ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, June 21, 2019. 

The Marine Corps has fired the commander of 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment due to a "loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command" stemming from a deadly amphibious assault vehicle mishap off the California coast in late July.

In a press release issued Tuesday evening, the Marine Corps said that Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner, commander of Battalion Landing Team 1/4, was relieved of command by Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

"Heckl relieved Regner due to a loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command as a result of the assault amphibious vehicle mishap that took place off the coast of Southern California July 30, 2020," the press release stated.

Regner, an infantry officer who commissioned in May 2002, was in command of Marines training at San Clemente Island, California in late July. As the Marines returned to the USS Somerset in their amphibious vehicles, one began taking on water about a mile offshore and rapidly sank with 15 Marines and one sailor on board.

Seven Marines and one sailor died in the incident, which was the deadliest AAV accident in Marine Corps history.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit commanding officer, said in a statement at the time.

"Although the Command Investigation has compiled a substantial amount of information and data which formed the basis for Heckl’s decision, it is still ongoing as the Marine Corps continues to investigate, assess all relevant information, and take appropriate actions," the press release said.

Officials did not immediately respond to questions from Task & Purpose.

Over his 18-year career, Regner had deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his official biography. More recently, Regner served as the top aide to Gen. Joseph Votel when he was commander of U.S. Central Command, and worked on strategic war planning for the Defeat-ISIS Coalition.