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Pendleton Fire Started When Marine Amphibious Vehicle Hit Gas Line, Official Says
The armored amphibious vehicle that caught fire on Camp Pendleton Wednesday morning, sending 14 Marines and a Navy corpsman to area hospitals for serious burn injuries, struck a natural gas line during routine pre-deployment training.
Although San Diego Gas & Electric Co. supplies natural gas to the sprawling North County base, the utility said it was not an SDG&E; line that ignited.
“We are aware of a gas incident that occurred on Camp Pendleton on Wednesday. We investigated and determined that an SDG&E; gas line was not involved,” said Sempra Energy spokesman Joe Britton.
An AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion waits as Marines scout ahead during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 19, 2014.U.S. Marine Corps photo
The brass at 1st Marine Division remained tight-lipped about the blaze that engulfed the Assault Amphibious Vehicle — called an “Amtrack” by the troops — around 9:33 a.m. Wednesday in the San Mateo section of the base.
Crewed by members of the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, it was carrying a detachment from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment during the land-based portion of a pre-deployment Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation when the vehicle struck a gas line that was away from the main roadway.
In a Camp Pendleton utility guide published on Aug. 16, 2016, the Marine Corps mandated numerous safety measures for natural gas pipelines latticing the base.
All aboveground pipes and components are required to be primed and painted yellow — which identifies natural gas — and labeled. All new lines located in vegetated areas or located away from paved areas require special markers indicating the presence of natural gas. Markers are mandated on or near all taps, tees and caps continuously along natural gas lines so that Marines can see them from afar, too.
Marine Corps officials at both the Pentagon and Camp Pendleton declined to say whether maps showing known gas lines were provided to the troops planning or conducting the exercise; whether ditches and other areas that held the pipes were marked as out of bounds for vehicle traffic during the training event or whether the unit had been briefed about potential safety risks posed by nearby natural gas lines before they kicked off the exercise.
The San Diego Union-Tribune could not determine if base officials even knew that a natural gas line was there or were aware who installed it.
Officials also declined to say whether the Marines were wearing their flame-resistant organizational gear or FROG, designed to prevent very serious burn injuries.
U.S. Marines with 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (2d MARDIV), prepare to move from shore to water aboard AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicles at Onslow Beach, Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 22, 2017.U.S. Marine Corps photo
FROG comes in both desert and olive color scheme and consists of a long-sleeved tunic or T-shirt, trousers, gloves and a balaclava for the face and head. There’s a hinged face guard that can attach to a Kevlar helmet.
Tougher than steel, the Kevlar plastic used in the head gear and the Small Arms Protective Insert on a Marine’s vest and back — the “SAPI plates” — resists both blunt force trauma and high heat. FROG gear is supposed to protect the body from flames where the Kevlar ends.
When units deploy overseas, the Marine Corps swaps out their FROG kit with the Enhanced Fire Resistant Combat Ensemble, an upgraded flame-resistant material and self-extinguishes fire, drastically reducing the incidence and severity of burn injuries, according to Marine Corps Systems Command.
The level of FROG or EFRCE apparel worn by infantrymen and armor crewman usually is determined by a unit commander, an order that is issued before the training begins.
When contacted by The San Diego Union-Tribune, however, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines personnel referred all questions to division spokesperson 1st Lt. Paul Gainey.
“The accident is under investigation and we will make no comments until it is completed,” Gainey said.
Marine representatives at the Pentagon also declined comment.
Six of the service members taken to area hospitals were listed in critical conditions and another six were marked serious. One was in stable condition.
Eight of the 15 troops were rushed to the burn center at the University of California San Diego medical center. Another four went to the University of California Irvine medical center in Orange County. One was transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.
Two others were treated for minor injuries at Camp Pendleton, but Marine officials declined to say whether any had been released
UC Irvine Medical Center has Orange County’s only Level I trauma center and only regional burn center. One of only five American Burn Association-verified centers in Southern California, it treats about 300 adult and pediatric burn survivors annually.
In 2009, the Burn Center at the University of California San Diego medical center also was certified by the American Burn Association. It treats about 450 burn victims each year.
Since Camp Pendleton is equidistant from both Irvine and San Diego, it made sense to split the majority of patients between hospitals, said UC Irvine Health spokesman John Murray.
©2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.