Marine from New Braunfels killed in training accident off Southern California coast

Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels died at scene

SAN DIEGO – Two Marines from New Braunfels and Houston are among those dead after their landing craft sank off the Southern California coast during a training exercise last week.

Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, was pronounced dead at the scene on Thursday, according to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at nearby Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego.

A news release states Perez was a rifleman with the Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team.

Cpl. Wesley A Rodd, 23, of Harris County, is listed among the Marines missing after the amphibious assault vehicle sank with 15 Marines and one Navy sailor aboard.

Officials with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit announced Sunday that they called off the search.

Rodd, six other Marines and one Sailor are presumed dead, a news release states. Rodd was a rifleman.

Eight Marines were rescued; Perez died and two others are in critical condition.

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The 26-ton, tank-like craft took on water and quickly sank in hundreds of feet of water — too deep for divers — making it difficult to reach.

“It is with a heavy heart that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

All of the Marines aboard were attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at nearby Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. They ranged in age from 19 to early 30s and all were wearing combat gear, including body armor and flotation vests, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The craft was one of 13 amphibious assault vehicles that had just completed an exercise. It was heading back to a Navy ship when it began taking on water about a half-mile from the Navy-owned island off San Diego.

Troops on board two other amphibious assault vehicles responded quickly but couldn’t stop the sinking, Osterman said at a Friday news conference.

Over the course of the search, dozens of helicopters and ships searched more than 1,000 square nautical miles (2,590 square kilometers) of sea.

*Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said Perez was 20 years old. His family says he was 19, and would have turned 20 in November.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.