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5 Marines injured by ‘danger close’ mortar impact just before unit’s leadership was fired

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U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, conduct marksmanship drills on Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan, March 13, 2020. One of the drills Marines utilize to maintain their lethality involves firing at close ranges as well as gradual movements towards a target to simulate closing with the enemy. This drill is being executed by an activated reserve unit currently attached to 3rd Marine Division as part of the unit deployment program. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ujian Gosun)

The top-end leadership of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines were reportedly relieved after five Marines were injured by friendly mortar fire during a training exercise.

The incident happened a week prior to the Marines’ firings, after an 81mm mortar round landed forty meters away from ground troops during a March 6 exercise at Range 400 in Twentynine Palms, California.

The Marines hit were peppered with shrapnel and are all back to doing what Marines do best.

“The Marines are now back on full duty,” said Twentynine Palms base spokeswoman Capt. Nicole Plymale in a comment to Task & Purpose. “The incident is currently under investigation.”

It is believed that the mortar tube that fired the near-fatal shot was a bit off during the live-fire exercises.

Less than one week later, battalion commander Lt. Col. Clinton Kappel, and battalion sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Elson Aviles were relieved of duty by the 2nd Marine Division.

“The circumstances surrounding the relief are specific to the leader-led relationship and thus not open for discussion,” said 1st Lt. Dan Linfante, a 2MARDIV spokesman.

Kappel had less than half a year of time with the unit at the time of his firing.

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