In 2023, vehicle crashes yet again were the most common kind of accident that killed Marines, significantly surpassing training deaths.

Of the 39 active duty Marines who died in accidents during the 2023 fiscal year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023, 28 died in off-duty car and motorcycle crashes, according to data provided by the Naval Safety Command.

Seven Marines died in accidents while on duty, down from 16 Marines the previous year.

The 39 accidental deaths in the Corps in fiscal year 2023 was the lowest number in at least the past five years, according to the Naval Safety Command data.

Car and motorcycle crashes have been the top cause of accidental deaths for Marines in each of the past five fiscal years, according to the Naval Safety Center data. The Naval Safety Command’s data reflected mishaps and didn’t include other causes of death, like homicide or illness.

These Marines who died were more than a statistic — they were new fathers and music lovers and passionate runners and role models, and each was much more than that.

In fiscal year 2023, suicide almost certainly was the top cause of death for Marines overall.

The Pentagon hasn’t yet released full military suicide data for the fiscal year, but 39 active duty Marines died by suicide in the first three-quarters of the fiscal year alone, according to the available data.

The summer was a particularly difficult time for the Marine Corps in terms of tragic accidents.

In June, four Marines were killed in a single-vehicle car crash in Southern California. The following month, three Marines died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a parked car at a North Carolina gas station, in an apparent accident.

In the second half of August, one Marine was killed during live-fire training, and four Marines were killed in two separate aircraft crashes.

The spate of deadly training accidents prompted the top Marine leader, Gen. Eric Smith, to order a review of the approach to safety within every unit and plan to form a safety center headed by a general officer.

“Safety is a key element of our warrior culture,” Smith wrote in an Aug. 29 message to the force. “When we lose Marines we are not only heartbroken, but we are also less ready for combat.”

The year’s two other fatal on-duty mishaps took place during physical training, according to the Naval Safety Command data.

The death in December of a Marine in a tactical vehicle rollover wasn’t accounted for in that data.

The girlfriend of Staff Sgt. Joshua Moore Jr., one of the four Marines killed in the single-vehicle crash in June, told a San Diego ABC affiliate that Moore was “compassionate, kind, intelligent and loved to cook.”

“He loved serving country, providing safety to the community, and the community it brought him, the brotherhood,” Jacinda Stage told the news station.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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