CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.
Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.
Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.
"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."
While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.
"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."
An average of 20 people per minute are victims of abuse in the United States. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Christopher Quail0
An analysis of more than 200 cases of domestic violence at eight military installations has determined that commanders and law enforcement personnel are not following their own rules when investigating and handling these cases and their victims.
CAMP PENDLETON — The moment country music artist Jason Aldean stopped singing at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, two Marines in the crowd heard gunfire and their training kicked in.
"We looked at each other and said, 'We've got to go help,'" Sgt. Austin Cox, a 26-year-old flightline mechanic for Marine Light Training Squadron 303, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said Monday, April 29. "Our adrenaline was rushing. You just full-blown go. As people ran out, we ran towards chaos."
On Monday, Cox and Marine veteran Sgt. Michael Vura, 26, were awarded Navy and Marine Corps Medals for exceptional bravery and selfless actions in saving lives and preventing serious bodily harm of others around them during the largest mass shooting in modern American history. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the shooting.
The awards were signed by Marine Corps Commandant Robert B. Neller for President Donald Trump.
First Lt. Matthew Kraft, who has been missing in the High Sierra backcountry for more than a month, likely has died after being "overcome by severe winter storms," the Marine Corps concluded Thursday, April 11.