Marine dies during live-fire training at Camp Pendleton

The main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base
The military did not release information about what happened at Camp Pendleton or how the Marine died but said an investigation is underway.
(Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)
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A Camp Pendleton Marine died Thursday night while taking part in live-fire training at the sprawling military base, officials said.

Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Whaley was four weeks into a 13-week Basic Reconnaissance Course — an entry-level Marine Corps Reconnaissance course under the School of Infantry-West — when the incident happened. Whaley was an infantry student.

“The family and loved ones have our deepest condolences as we continue to work with them during this difficult time,” officials said. Whaley’s family was notified of his death Friday morning. Military officials publicly identified the Tennessee resident Saturday.


The military did not release information about what happened or how Whaley died but said an investigation is underway. The command “is fully cooperating with the investigation efforts,” officials said.

Military prosecutors have charged a Marine with sexual assault of a minor after a 14-year-old girl was found inside Camp Pendleton barracks.

Aug. 11, 2023

Whaley had previously completed rifleman training at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, officials said. He had received the National Defense Medal.

It was not immediately clear the last time a Marine died while taking part in live-fire training at Camp Pendleton. However, Marines have been killed in live-fire training incidents at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in Riverside County in recent years.

Ten years ago at Camp Pendleton, four Marines were killed while performing maintenance on a live-fire training range in the Zulu impact area. They were explosive ordnance disposal technicians who died in an explosion during a range sweep for unexploded munitions.

Off-base training incidents involving Camp Pendleton Marines have also turned deadly, including in April 2020, when an amphibious transport sank near San Clemente Island, killing nine service members.

In June 2022, five Camp Pendleton Marines died when their MV-22B Osprey crashed during a training mission near Glamis in Imperial County.


This story originally appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.