Three Marine officers were relieved of command Wednesday in the aftermath of a March mortar accident that killed seven Camp Lejeune, N.C. Marines, 2nd Marine Division officials told USNI News.
Lt. Col. Andrew McNulty, commander of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, the battalion’s Alpha Company commander Capt. Kelby Breivogel and the battalion’s infantry weapons officer Chief Warrant Officer 3 Douglas Derring were relieved of their duties with the 9th Marines, 1st Lt. Peter Koerner with 2nd Marines told USNI News on Thursday and first reported by Marine Corps Times.
The Marines still remain on active duty and are not charged with any crime under military law, Koerner said. Brig. Gen. James Lukeman had “lost confidence,” in McNulty’s ability to lead the battalion. Koerner said the command doesn’t anticipate future charges related to the March, 18 accident.
Early results from the investigation have placed the blame on a malfunction of a 60 mm mortar. Some of the preliminary findings from the investigation were evaluated in the decision to relieve the Marine officers.
The seven Marines killed in the accident had recently completed a winter warfare exercise at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif. and moved to Hawthorne for live fire training. Seven other Marines and a sailor were injured in the blast.
The investigation into the accident is in its final stages, Koerner said.