Deceased Okinawa Marine identified in Twenty-nine Palms training accident

by 1st Lt. Michael Maggitti
III Marine Expeditionary Force

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP BUTLER, Okinawa, Japan – One Marine was pronounced deceased by medical authorities at Bush Naval Hospital, Twentynine Palms, California, and another Marine is in critical condition following a live-fire training mishap in preparation for the start of Integrated Training Exercise 2-17, January 13, 2017.

Lance Corporal Austin J. Ruiz, 19, of Naples, Florida, served as a combat engineer with 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan. He was attached to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, at the time of the incident and transported via ground MEDEVAC before being declared deceased.

A second Marine was injured during the incident and flown via air MEDEVAC to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, California. The Marine is assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

“The Lava Dogs of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, along with the rest of the Marine Corps, mourn the tragedy which befell two of our Marines and their families. Both Marines answered a higher calling to put service before self and there is nothing more admirable or unselfish,” said Lt. Col. Jeremiah Salame, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

Our thoughts and prayers are with both families during this difficult time. As this incident remains under investigation, there is no further information at this time.

Media may contact 1st Marine Division Public Affairs Officer matthew.k.gregory@usmc.mil for further details pending the results of the investigation. Additionally, media may contact Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Public Affairs SMBPLMSCombatCenterPAO@usmc.mil for further details regarding training specific to the Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.

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