18-Year-Old Marine Recruit Dies After Collapsing During Training Exercise at Camp Pendleton

A Marine recruit, age 18, died on September 27 after collapsing during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, according to a statement released by military officials over the weekend.

Private First Class Javier Pong “became unconscious and unresponsive while conducting scheduled training” at the installation outside San Diego, AP reported. He was taken to Camp Pendleton’s Naval Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Task and Purpose reported:

Pong, 18, had graduated from high school in May and had long dreamt of becoming a Marine, according to his obituary, which was posted online by Baca’s Funeral Chapel in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The reason why Marine Corps officials did not initially announce Pong’s death was that his family needed time to mourn his loss, said Marine Capt. Joshua Collins, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

“We are focused on supporting Pfc. Pong’s loved ones during this difficult time,” Collins said on Tuesday. “Out of a desire to provide the family privacy to grieve and put Pfc. Pong’s affairs in order, we delayed releasing any information until the family had confirmed they were comfortable with the news being publicized.”

Little information about the circumstances surrounding Pong’s death is publicly available. An investigation into the incident is ongoing, Collins said.

“At this time, we can only confirm that Pfc. Pong fell unconscious and became unresponsive while conducting scheduled training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton earlier that evening,” Collins said. “All activities are conducted in accordance with existing directives and procedures to provide a controlled environment and maximize the safety of all recruits and permanent personnel.”

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