CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
In seconds, water filled a sinking hull with four Marines strapped inside. To escape, the men recalled the day’s training, which covered life-vests and underwater breathing devices.
Approximately 200 Marines and sailors with Company L, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, made the Corps’ first egresses from a simulated amphibious assault vehicle, which was dunked in a Pendleton pool Nov. 7-11.
Staff Sgt. David Bowden Jr., a section leader with the unit’s AAV platoon, said that until recently, service members were not required to qualify in an AAV trainer before deploying with the vehicles.
“The trainer is definitely beneficial to the AAV community,” said Bowden. “We used to teach the students how to evacuate and egress from a sinking vehicle. It’s one thing to teach someone how to do something; it’s completely different to actually have them do it.”
Lt. Cmdr Tim Ringo began developing the course in January after a mechanical failure caused an assault vehicle to sink in Camp Pendleton’s Del Mar boat basin, killing Sgt. Wesley J. Rice.
Ringo is a 42-year-old aero-medical safety officer and the first of his kind assigned to a Marine expeditionary unit.
“Being able to create the course exceeded all of my expectations,” said Ringo, a Jonesboro, Ga., native. “Ultimately the intent was to save lives, and I believe that’s what we’ve done.”
Company L is one of three rifle companies with Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the ground combat element for the unit.
A platoon of tracked vehicles from 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, Camp Pendleton, reinforces the Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.
The Marines embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14 beginning a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions.