Valuable heart and years of Marine noncommissioned officer experience was taken from the Corps in November, from vehicle accidents that claimed the lives of three Marines.
Two motorcycle accidents and Marine struck by a car resulted in the deaths two Marines assigned to the Corps’ air wings and a drill instructor aboard the recruit depot in San Diego.
The Corps says that car and motorcycle accidents were the No. 1 mishap killer of Marines, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all mishap deaths across the Corps in 2018.
On Nov. 16, Sgt. Gary G. Wilson, a drill instructor at the San Diego recruit depot, was killed when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle.
The California Highway Patrol reported the 33-year-old drill instructor deceased at the scene, a press release said.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Wilson,” Brig. Gen. Ryan Heritage, commanding general of San Diego recruit depot, said in a press release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult period. This is truly the loss of a fine Marine, and he will be missed greatly.”
On Nov. 18, Marine Master Sgt. Shane Richardson with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772, 4th Marine Air Wing, was killed after being struck by a car while trying to cross a street early Sunday morning in Philadelphia.
“Our most valued asset is the individual Marine. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Master Sergeant Shane Richardson,” Col. Ted Wong, a Marine spokesman with Marine Forces Reserve, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
And on Nov. 22, Cpl. Thomas A. Mertz, died “from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle motorcycle mishap,” a military mishap report said.
Mertz, a 26-year-old native of Port Huron, Michigan, was an aviation tech with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. He joined the Corps in 2014.
The Corps says that loss of control was the primary cause in the majority of Class A mishaps in 2018 for motorcycles.
“In 9 out of the 13 fatalities, the rider had less than 4 months of motorcycle experience,” a Marine Corps safety report said.
However, motorcycle accident fatalities across the Corps are down in 2018. Eighteen Marines were killed in motorcycle mishaps in 2017 and 13 lost their lives in 2018.
The same is not true for car accidents, however. The Corps reported 11 fatalities in 2017 and 15 in 2018.
“In FY18, nine of the 15 mishaps were single vehicle accidents caused by fatigue or distracted driving. In five instances, the driver was not wearing a seatbelt,” a Marine safety report detailing car accidents said.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.