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Marine killed, four injured in AAV fire at 29 Palms

Sep. 18, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
MarineSafety_Base
A Marine died Monday in a training accident at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Four other Marines were injured. (Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun)
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A Marine was killed and four others injured when an Amphibious Assault Vehicle caught fire Monday morning at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Cpl. Nicholas Sell of 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., was participating in a battalion assault course as part of the Integrated Training Exercise when his AAV caught fire around 11:20 a.m., Combat Center spokesman Capt. Justin Smith said in a release. Sell, 21, was a native of Eagle Point, Ore., who had been in the Marine Corps since 2010. He had deployed once to Afghanistan.

The Marines who were injured in the AAV fire have not been identified by Marine officials.

One of the injured is in stable condition and is being treated at Arrowhead Medical Center in Los Angeles. The other three were treated and released from Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital at the Combat Center.

According to Combat Center officials, two units are currently participating in the ITX: 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, out of Hawaii; and 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. Sell’s unit had been supporting 2/1.

Thousands of Marines go to the Combat Center annually for ITX, which is a nearly month-long workup to build skills before a deployment, from the personal and squad level up to a battalion-wide final exercise.

ITX replaced Enhanced Mojave Viper as the Marine Corps’ premiere pre-deployment training program in January.

Monday’s incident marks the second training death this year for the Combat Center and the second death during ITX.

Pfc. Casey J. Holmes died March 11 in a bulldozer mishap during the training program.

The Chico native was based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

According to Naval Safety Center, no other Marines have been killed in ground ashore on-duty mishaps this year since seven Camp Lejune Marines were killed by a mortar explosion March 18.

Seven other Marines and a sailor were also injured during the blast, which happened during live-fire training at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada. Human error caused the blast, a command investigation concluded.

Crystal Chatham of The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs contributed to this report.

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