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Four Marines killed in explosion at Camp Pendleton identified

November 14th, 2013 | by Denise Goolsby | Comments
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Vehicles file through the main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base on Nov. 13, 2013, at Camp Pendleton (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

CAMP PENDLETON The names of the four Marines killed Wednesday morning  during a range maintenance operation at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton were released Thursday by Marine Corps officials.

All the men were combat vets – each with two or more tours of duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Mathew R. Marsh, 28, of Long Beach, Gunnery Sgt. Gregory J. Mullins, 31, of Bayou L’Ourse, La., Sgt. Miguel Ortiz, 27, of Vista and Staff Sgt. Eric W. Summers, 32, of Poplar Bluff, Mo. — all members of an explosive ordnance disposal team — were killed in an explosion around 11 a.m. Wednesday while clearing unexploded ordnance in the Zulu impact area at the base.

One Navy Hospital Corpsman and two Marines who were nearby were injured. They were released after receiving medical treatment at the scene.

The Zulu impact area is used for firing explosive munitions such as grenades, mortars, artillery and rockets and for dropping munitions from aircraft. While live-fire training was ongoing at the adjacent Whiskey impact area, there was no live-fire training being conducted Wednesday in the Zulu area.

Former U.S. Marine bomb technician Brian Meyer, who lost an arm, a leg, and part of the other hand defusing an IED in Afghanistan, says “even when everything is done right, things can still go wrong” in reference to the Marines killed at Camp Pendleton, the Associated Press reported.

Staff Sgt. Mathew R. Marsh, 28, of Long Beach, was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton. He joined the Marine Corps in July 2003, and was promoted to his current rank in May 2009.

Marsh’s awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, three Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He deployed twice to Iraq in 2005 and 2008 and twice to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2012 as a team leader.

Gunnery Sgt. Gregory J. Mullins, 31, of Bayou L’Ourse, La., was the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Staff Non-commissioned Officer-in-Charge assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.

Mullins joined the Marine Corps in March 2002, and was promoted to his current rank in February 2013.

Mullins’ awards include two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, three Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He deployed twice to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012 as a team leader.

Sgt. Miguel Ortiz, 27, of Vista, was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.

Ortiz joined the Marine Corps in March 2006, and was promoted to his current rank in November 2009.

Ortiz’s awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, two Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

He deployed to Iraq in 2007, to the Western Pacific in 2008 and to Afghanistan in 2012.

Staff Sgt. Eric W. Summers, 32, of Poplar Bluff, Mo., was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Platoon, Airfield Operations Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, stationed aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Summers joined the Marine Corps in July 2000, and was promoted to his current rank in October 2010. Summers’ awards include three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, three Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

He deployed to Kuwait in 2003, Iraq in 2004 and three times to Afghanistan in 2009, 2011 and 2012 as a team leader.

“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Marines we lost yesterday. Explosive Ordnance Disposal is a small and tight-knit community, not just in the Marine Corps, but in the entire US military. Our focus now is on ensuring these families receive the help and support they need,” said Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard, Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West – Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

This is the second time in two months that a Marine has been killed on a Southern California Marine Corps base.

On Sept. 16, a Marine died and four others were hurt during a training accident at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

Cpl. Nicholas Sell, 21, of Eagle Point, Ore. was killed during an Integrated Training Exercise at the base.

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the Corps’ largest West Coast expeditionary training facility, encompasses more than 125,000 acres of Southern California terrain.

Located approximately 38 miles from downtown San Diego in north San Diego County and 82 miles south of Los Angeles, Camp Pendleton has been the largest employer in North County for more than 60 years.

The base is home to the I Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group and many supporting units.

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