CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A Marine Corps battalion commander testified Friday that in retrospect he would have halted the exercise that killed nine of his Marines whose amphibious assault vehicle sank off the Southern California coast but at the time he did not have accurate information to make such a decision.
Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner said his decisions were based in part on what other commanders told him, including that all the Marines had completed their swim certifications and that the aging vehicles they were in had been fixed and were ready for the mission.
He said he was also unaware that the Navy had changed plans that day and did not launch a safety boat.
"Had I known that at the time, I would have said 'No we're not going to go into the ocean without a safety boat,'" Regner said.
Regner gave his account to a three-officer panel at a Board of Inquiry. That panel will issue a recommendation to the commanding general of Regner's unit as to whether the decorated officer, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, should be considered for discharge just shy of his 20-year mark and be denied retirement benefits.
However, a decision isn't expected until later this month and will follow Boards of Inquiry pending for other officers, including one scheduled for next Tuesday.