Marine killed in live-fire training exercise in Southern California

A U.S. Marine was killed and another was injured last week during a live-fire training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

The Marines were participating in small arms live-fire training Friday just after 5 p.m. in preparation for an integrated training exercise, said Lt. Karen Holliday, a spokeswoman at the training center, which is in San Bernardino County. Few details were released about the accident.

The combat center announced the Marine's death on Facebook on Saturday.

"We send our prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines killed and injured," the base's commander, Brig. Gen. William F. Mullen III, said in the statement. "Our first priority is to support them during this difficult time."

The Marine Corps has not identified either Marine.

But the Naples (Fla.) Daily News reported the dead Marine was Lance Cpl. Austin Ruiz. His family and friends told the newspaper the 19-year-old Naples resident always wanted to be a Marine.

According to Ruiz's Facebook account, he got engaged around the Christmas holiday.

Marines from throughout the United States are routinely sent to Twentynine Palms to participate in integrated training exercises, which usually involve firing live ammunition and other hazardous activities.

© REUTERS/Mario Anzuon FILE: A U.S. Marine from Fox Company, 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit aims his weapon during a non-live fire Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training at US Marine Corps: Marines Air…


Marine killed in live-fire training exercise at Twentynine Palms

One U.S. Marine was killed and another was injured Friday during a live-fire training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

The Marines were participating in small arms live-fire training just after 5 p.m. in preparation for an integrated training exercise, said Lt. Karen Holliday, a spokeswoman at the training center. Few details were released about the accident.

The combat center announced the Marine’s death on Facebook on Saturday.

“We send our prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines killed and injured,” the base’s commander, Brig. Gen. William F. Mullen III, said in the statement. “Our first priority is to support them during this difficult time."

The Marine Corps has not identified either Marine.

But the Naples (Fla.) Daily News reported the dead Marine was Lance Cpl. Austin Ruiz. His family and friends told the newspaper the 19-year-old Naples resident always wanted to be a Marine.

According to Ruiz’s Facebook account, he got engaged around the Christmas holiday.

Marines from throughout the United States are routinely sent to Twentynine Palms to participate in integrated training exercises, which usually involve firing live ammunition and other hazardous activities.


Fla. Marine died during live fire training exercise

A Naples Marine killed in a training exercise had been at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California for about 1½ weeks when the fatal incident occurred, his mother said Tuesday.

The Marine Corps released few additional details Tuesday about the death of 19-year-old Austin Ruiz, killed during a live fire training exercise at the military base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., on Friday.

Nell Ruiz confirmed the death of his son. The base, "with heavy hearts," announced the death in a Facebook post Saturday but did not identify Austin Ruiz and noted that another unidentified Marine was injured in the incident.

"We send our prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines killed and injured," Brig. Gen. William F. Mullen III, commanding general of the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, said in the post. "Our first priority is to support them during this difficult time."

Austin Ruiz landed in California on Jan. 4 to join the base, Sheara Ruiz, his mother, said in an interview at her Golden Gate Estates home. Twentynine Palms is in the Mojave Desert of Southern California's San Bernardino County, about 150 miles east of Los Angeles.

The Marines were conducting unit training in preparation for the start of Integrated Training Exercise 2-17. The exercise, typically knows as ITX, is a 29-day training regimen that focuses on "combined-arms maneuver warfare during global contingency operations," according to an email statement Tuesday from base spokeswoman Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo.

The exercise is "kinetic in nature," Ayala-Lo said, and includes live fire training to test the Marines' "offensive, defensive and stability operations."

Ayala-Lo offered no more details about the incident, which is under investigation, according to the base's Facebook post. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Office is not involved in the investigation, spokeswoman Cindy Bachman confirmed Tuesday.

The Ruiz family also doesn't know more about the training or Austin's death. They do know that the live fire involved small arms, Nell Ruiz said, and that it might "get them ready for the noise of the close-quartered" combat.

The family hopes to bring Austin Ruiz's remains home to Naples for a memorial service.

Austin told his family he was excited about the training during a call home Thursday night and in a text message to his mother before the exercise Friday.

His family said they are aware that Marines complete this training before an upcoming deployment. After completing the training, Austin was supposed to deploy to Japan, Nell Ruiz said.

Austin Ruiz had just visited Tokyo in December during a mandated pre-deployment training, his mother said. He posted pictures from the trip with his new fiancée on his Facebook page. They were engaged Christmas Eve, according to a Facebook post.

"Christmas this year was perfect," one post read. "i (sic) couldn't have asked for more."

The Ruiz family has received an outpouring of support from family and friends who knew the Marine, who attended Naples High School. In 2015, his junior year, Austin earned his GED before joining the Marines and completing basic training in December 2015 at Parris Island, S.C.

Family described Austin as someone who loved life and touched everyone around him.

"He didn't live long, but he lived hard," Sheara Ruiz said.

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