Negligent Discharge Killed Marine During Camp Pendleton Training, Navy Report RevealsGo Back to News and Updates
Camp Pendleton, California - September 19, 2023 - A Marine was killed on August 17 during a live-fire training exercise at Camp Pendleton, and a subsequent safety report from the Navy has provided new details about the incident. The report's finding that the Marine died from a careless discharge is a grim reminder of the dangers military personnel confront every day.
Last month, a report from the Naval Safety Command was released detailing fatal occurrences in the Marine Corps and the Navy during the previous decade. According to the report, on that day, a military man at Camp Pendleton was killed during a live-fire small weapons training exercise because of a careless discharge.
In the first draft of the report, four days after the sad death of Lance Cpl. Joseph Whaley at the School of Infantry-West on the base, the occurrence was reported as a "Ground Class-A Mishap" fatality happening on August 21. However, the Naval Safety Command has recently updated the date, confirming that Whaley's unfortunate death was also the result of a negligent discharge on August 17.
In response, Safety Command Spokesperson Jeffrey Jones said, "There is just one occurrence, not two. The accident report has been revised to include the right date.
The Marine Corps had previously confirmed the date of Whaley's death, but no other information about the circumstances of his passing had been disclosed at that time. Similarly, the Navy and the Marine Corps have not provided details on the negligent discharge incident, leaving open the issue of whether or not it might have been averted and whether or not other service members were involved.
Nearly two weeks earlier, Military.com asked for proof that the Marine Corps report of Whaley's death was related to the Navy safety report, but they never heard back. Maj. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for the Marine Corps headquarters, was notified of the impending publication of the report and repeated his August remarks.
According to the Marine Corps, they are still looking into what happened to Whaley. While in the Basic Reconnaissance Course, which trains Marines in amphibious reconnaissance, patrolling, surveillance, and communication, Whaley, a native of Tennessee, tragically lost his life.
Prior to enrolling in the Basic Reconnaissance Course, Whaley had previously completed rifleman training at the School of Infantry-East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Whaley's relatives were not reachable for comment despite repeated attempts. Whaley was a successful high school football player in Tennessee and was a passionate outdoorsman, according to his obituary.
The Marine Corps has suffered many high-profile casualties this summer, including Whaley's. Carbon monoxide poisoning from the vehicles was ruled the cause of death for three Camp Lejeune Marines who were discovered dead in their vehicle in July. It was unclear what exactly led to their being exposed to the poisonous gas.
In addition, four more Marines were killed in August accidents. Maj. Andrew Mettler, the plane's pilot, was killed on August 24 when his F/A-18D Hornet crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Soon later, during a multinational exercise, a V-22 Osprey crashed off the northern coast of Australia, killing everybody aboard.
A Marine Corps University student in Quantico, Virginia, was discovered dead in his car earlier this month; the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear. These events emphasize the constant necessity for safety precautions and attentiveness during training exercises and bring attention to the dangers and sacrifices that are inherent to military service.