A memorial service was held at Camp Pendleton Thursday morning for four U.S. Marines killed in an accident on base on Nov. 13.
Family, friends, colleagues and senior Camp Pendleton leaders gathered at the Base Theatre to pay respects to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Marines Gunnery Sgt. Gregory J. Mullins, Staff Sgt. Mathew R. Marsh, Staff Sgt. Eric W. Summers and Sgt. Miguel Ortiz.
According to base officials, the EOD Marines were killed in an explosion during range maintenance operations to dispose of unexploded ordnance in the Zulu impact area at Camp Pendleton.
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The four young Marines hailed from all over the U.S. and had each earned a multitude of awards and medals over their respective careers.
Sgt. Ortiz, 27, was from San Diego’s Vista area, while Staff Sgt. Marsh, 28, was from Long Beach, Calif. Gunner Sgt. Mullins, 31, was from Bayou L’Ourse, La., while Staff Sgt. Summers, 22, hailed from Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Thursday’s somber service included eulogies delivered by close friends, EOD personnel, scripture readings, a three-volley rifle salute and a ceremonial final roll call. “Amazing Grace” and Taps were also played.
The Commandant and First Lady of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos and his wife, Bonnie Amos, attended the memorial service and met with each of the Marines’ families prior to the ceremony.
Camp Pendleton’s Commanding General, Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard, delivered the following statement:
"Today, we pause for a moment to remember our fallen comrades: their lives, service and sacrifice. We, their Marine family, mourn alongside their loved ones. We will always remember their commitment and devotion to duty."
Officials say the cause of the accident remains under investigation. At this point, few details have been released regarding the events leading up to the deadly explosion, but officials say that information will be released as it becomes available.
A Marine official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity last week said the Marines were killed during a routing sweep to make a range safer for future training exercises at the base. According to the official, there was no live firing on the range at the time.
Three others – two additional Marines and a Navy Corpsman – were nearby at the time of the blast and sustained minor injuries, but survived. Their names were not released.