Update: Since this story originally aired, the remains of the other service members killed in the accident have been recovered. Click here for the latest.
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles-area family is mourning the loss of a 21-year-old Marine who they say wanted to serve in the U.S. military from the time he was a child.
Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco was one of eight service members killed in an amphibious assault vehicle training accident near San Clemente Island last week.
Barranco was with 15 others aboard the 26-ton craft when crew members reported they had taken on water. The amphibious assault vehicle then quickly sank in hundreds of feet under water, making it difficult for divers to reach the service men.
Eight Marines were rescued from the water, but one later died at the scene. The remains of the other seven Marines, and one sailor, were recovered Tuesday.
A memorial has grown outside Barranco’s Montebello home, where his family was left heartbroken.
“I’m going to miss him. He was such an amazing soul … he had so many goals,” his sister, Selma Barranco, said through tears.
She said her brother always wanted to be a service member, even as a young boy, when he would dress up as a G.I. Joe for Halloween.
Barranco and all of the other Marines aboard the sunken craft were attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County.
“He always told me if he died —we always talked about it— ‘don’t be sad, just know I died doing something I loved,’ and that’s all I can hold on to,” Barranco recalled.
Last week’s training accident was the deadliest of several involving the amphibious tractors that have occurred during Camp Pendleton exercises in recent years, the Associated Press reports.
A 2017 incident left 14 Marines and one Navy sailor hospitalized after their vehicle hit a natural gas line and caught fire. In 2011, a Marine died when the vehicle sank offshore of the camp during a training exercise, according to AP.