CAMP PENDLETON — Conditions of two service members injured when an assault amphibious vehicle burst into flames aboard this seaside base Wednesday, Sept. 13, were downgraded — one to critical and one to serious — base officials said Thursday.
In all, 14 Marines and one sailor from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion were injured around 9:33 a.m. Wednesday, during a pre-deployment training exercise in the base’s most northern training area at Camp San Mateo, not far from San Clemente.
Six are in critical condition, six are in serious condition, one is in stable condition, and two have minor injuries, said 1st Lt. Paul Gainey. All remained hospitalized, Thursday, in Orange and San Diego counties. All families have been notified, officials said.
Eight of the 15 injured are in the burn center at the University of California San Diego medical center; four are at UCI Medical Center; one is at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla; and two others are at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital with minor injuries, according to 2nd Lt. Mallory Martinez.
The armored full-track vehicle in which they were riding, known as an amtrack, can transport as many as 20 Marines from sea to land.
These vehicles, in operation since the 1970s, weigh more than 25 tons and are armed with a .50 caliber machine gun and a 40mm rapid fire grenade launcher. They can travel across land at 45 mph and can surf 10-foot waves.
Wednesday’s incident was not the first involving an assault amphibious vehicle during a training exercise.
On Jan. 22, 2013, an amphibious vehicle with the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina sank while being towed. There were no significant injuries.
On Sept. 12, 2013, the engine of an amphibious vehicle burst into flames at Camp Pendleton at Assault Amphibian Training School. Again, there were no significant injuries.
On Sept. 16, 2013, Cpl. Nicholas Sell, of Oregon, was killed when the amphibious vehicle he was…