SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Marine who died during a live-fire training at Camp Pendleton last month was killed due to accidental gunfire, according to a military safety report.
Lance Cpl. Joseph D Whaley was fatally shot on Aug. 17 while participating in the training. According to a recent report on deadly or costly incidents from the Naval Safety Command, he was “fatally injured due to negligent discharge” during the small arms exercise.
Further details about the incident remain under investigation at this time, according to Marine officials.
Whaley was a student from Tennessee in the School of Infantry-West at the time of his death. He was roughly four weeks into a 13-week Basic Reconnaissance Course, which is an entry-level offering under the school, officials said after the incident.
His previous training included rifleman training at the U.S. Marine Corps School of Infantry East, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Recruit Training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. He also received the National Defense Medal.
“The family and loved ones have our deepest condolences as we continue to work with them during this difficult time,” Marine Corps spokesperson Maj. Joshua Pena said in a statement.
It was the only fatality during live-fire arms training at U.S. Naval facilities reported by the Naval Safety Command between October 2022 and August 2023. The leading cause of death among members of the Marine Corps was car accidents, the report said.
It remains unclear if there have been any previous casualties during live-fire training at Camp Pendleton. However, Marines have died following incidents in recent years at the Riverside County Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.
Whaley’s passing came days before another U.S. Marine was killed in a San Diego-area training incident.
Maj. Andrew “Simple Jack” Mettler was killed in a jet crash near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Aug. 24 while officials say his squadron was participating in Service Level Training Exercise 5-23 at the time of the incident. No new details were available in the report regarding the crash.
Camp Pendleton released the following statement to FOX 5 regarding the matter:
“A Marine assigned as a student to the School of Infantry-West aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton died while participating in a night live-fire training event, 17 August 2023. An investigation into the circumstances of the death is ongoing and the command is fully cooperating with the investigation efforts. SOI-W is providing support to the family and peers of the deceased during this difficult time. There is no additional information available at this time.”