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Marines: Human error to blame for deadly accident

Posted May 29, 2013

— A military investigation has determined human error was to blame for a March mortar explosion that killed seven U.S. Marines in Nevada.

First Lt. Oliver David, a spokesman at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said in a press release Wednesday that a Marine operating a 60-mm mortar tube and ammunition "did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position."

The Marines did not release a copy of the investigative report and declined to provide any further details about the nature of the deadly mistake. Officials also would not say whether changes to training procedures were enacted as a result of the review, but they noted that the investigation determined that the mortar section hadn't conducted appropriate training before the live-fire event..

Marine officials announced earlier this month that two officers and a non-commissioned officer were removed from command following the March 18 accident at Hawthorne Army Depot. Seven Marines and a sailor, all members of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, were also wounded.

No Marines or sailors have been charged with a crime or violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and no charges are anticipated, officials said.

The investigation also determined that the mortar system functioned properly at Hawthorne and found no reason to question the safety of the system when it is employed as designed and as Marines are trained to employ it.


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  • Bob3425 May 29, 2013

    XLAW--absolutely right on, too many times in my career have I seen men injury over a dumb mistake, that why it call a training accident. The combat arms is a dangerous job, it happens.

  • mojaintsmall May 29, 2013

    training deaths have always been a part of every military organization that has ever existed...mojaintsmall

  • XLAW May 29, 2013

    There's nothing new in this tragedy. Many years ago, when I was a draftee assigned to the artillery, we heard of a mid-western reserve unit that placed its guns 180 off - in other words in the exact opposite direction and blew up a farmhouse off the artillery range. While in training too many powder bags were removed from the charge and a 105mm shell landed 50 feet in front of us. Thankfully we had dug our foxhole deep and had it securely covered. By the time we got back to base the young Lt. in charge had been shipped off to be in charge of a mess hall. And while in training in Germany there were many problems with the proximity fuses in the nose of the artillery shells. They should have been set for 50 feet above the target. Quite often they would explode at the top of the arc and rain shrapnel over the troops. At night it could be a deadly fireworks show! Bottom line - any time you're near explosives everything must go right or be ready for possible injury or death.