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Hearings on military AAV sinking

 February 22, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Speaker 1: (00:03)

Good morning. I'm Anica Colbert. It's Tuesday, February 22nd. Families of troops killed in training, awaiting justice, more on that next, but first let's do the headlines. A winters storm warning is officially in effect for San Diego county's mountains through tomorrow, snow icy roads and reduced visibility is expected. Division chief halt Hayes with the us forest service says people should wait for the storm to pass before traveling to the mountains. He also says that there's a silver lining to the storm.

Speaker 2: (00:40)

We're behind the air on our rainfall and snow this year. So we're actually very excited about getting this snowfall and rain. It's, uh, kind of a two edge sword. We do need the precept and the water, but also that comes with additional hazards of driving.

Speaker 1: (00:54)

He also says snow chains will be required on mountain roads. He says, you should inspect your car before you travel up to the mountains and be sure to have emergency supplies on hand San Diego gas prices are climbing again. After a one day pause over the weekend, the average price of unleaded hit $4 and 74 cents a gallon yesterday. That's up four tenths of a cent from Thursday, like from many people, electrician, William Glasson says the rising gas prices are impacting his finances,

Speaker 3: (01:24)

But I'm not making as much money cuz I'm dumping 40 bucks. Instead of 20 bucks,

Speaker 1: (01:29)

AAA says they don't expect gas prices to go down. Anytime soon, today is Worldpay day a day dedicated to reducing the number of pets in shelters. The San Diego humane society is marking the day, buying, encouraging local pet owners to spay or neuter their pets. The humane society offers low cost spay and neuter services to qualified individuals in the San Diego region, including those receiving government assistance and active members of the military from K PBS, you are listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news. You, you need Parents of eight Marines and a sailor who died in a training accident in 2020, say they are worn down by a system that is slow to change. K PBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh spoke with some of the families.

Speaker 4: (02:23)

Very loving boy loved his dad. His sisters, me

Speaker 5: (02:30)

It's been over 18 months since LEED Garcia's son was killed in a training accident. 21 year old lances, corporal Marco Barranco drowned along with eight other troops. When his vehicle sank off the coast of Southern California, July I 2020,

Speaker 4: (02:45)

I always thought the military was very organized. They knew what they're doing.

Speaker 5: (02:51)

Garcia wanted to meet me at a park in Montello, just east of LA when he was still in high school. Marco worked out in this park with a group of Marines to prepare him to enlist. His name has since been added to a local veteran's Memorial at the other end of the park.

Speaker 4: (03:07)

I, I believe in God of faith and sometimes I just, this is what God wanted regardless, but I, I don't accept that it was and training. That's what really, really gets me so angry. Why in training

Speaker 5: (03:26)

Garcia is among a group of parents who have sat in the audience during a series of hearings at camp Pendleton hearings, to determine whether some of the leaders involved that day will be kicked out of the core.

Speaker 4: (03:38)

It's just, it doesn't end. You're you know, our wounds are like still open and they're putting salt on it, you know? And yeah, I just didn't feel anything like, oh, okay. I feel better now. Absolutely not.

Speaker 5: (03:54)

July 30th, 2028 Marines in one sailor drowned returning to the USS summers set from San CLE island in an amphibious assault vehicle. The armored personnel carriers become boats in the water. Some of the aging vehicles broke down. Their unit was so far behind scheduled that their shipped moved away to another exercise. Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel, Michael Regner testified that in the fusion, he didn't understand which AAV was sinking. 45 minutes later. The track with Garcia's son went under with several troops, still fighting to get out.

Speaker 6: (04:30)

I don't feel like we're getting justice, but all I hear in these boards, they're going in circles, pointing fingers at each other.

Speaker 5: (04:37)

Ali bath is the mother of 19 year old PFC F in bath of Wisconsin. She has been at nearly all of the hearings, at least three officers in charge that day have been allowed to stay in the core. Each officer said, they told their commanders about problems. None of them stopped the exercise. They're

Speaker 6: (04:55)

Supposed to be Marines, but no one's taken responsibility. No one is being held to be responsible. So me sitting in that chair, if nothing else, they have to look at me.

Speaker 5: (05:11)

The Marines and Navy produce multiple reports pointing to serious lapses in training and equipment breakdowns. And this isn't the only accident 60 Marines have died in, in the last five years. Congressman Seth Moton of Massachusetts is on the house arm services committee. Moton is also a former Marine officer who rode on an AAV in combat.

Speaker 7: (05:34)

To be honest, I was worried. They might say, and that seemed to be the prevailing, uh, sentiment. He

Speaker 5: (05:38)

Says they didn't feel safe riding inside the vehicle while cross a river leading into Baghdad during the initial invasion. So they rode on top.

Speaker 7: (05:47)

This gets back to the culture. If, if that, if I had that concern as a, as a young second Lieutenant, 20 years ago, then you know, why has the Marine Corps not satisfactorily addressed that since then?

Speaker 5: (06:01)

It took another 18 months after the accident for the Marines to finally pull the aging AAVs from sea duty. Moton says the harder question is whether the Marines can create a culture where officers are empowered to halt an exercise. When they see a Nancy and Peter Vienna's son, Navy hospital, Corman, Christopher Bobby NEM drowned that day

Speaker 8: (06:23)

For a while. He was the guy that was joking around trying to make everybody stay calm. But what he was doing was trying to help other people take off their, their gear.

Speaker 5: (06:32)

Technically they aren't even gold star families. Congress reserves that title for families of those killed in combat, not training. Steve Walsh, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: (06:49)

California has entered a new phase in the fight against COVID 19, but not everyone is ready to ease into the new normal, just yet KPBS health reporter. Matt Hoffman has more

Speaker 5: (07:01)

Kearney Mesa resident, Bianca Santos received a kidney from her cousin a few years ago. She since had to take immune compromising drugs to keep her body from rejecting the organ. That means the flu or even food poisoning can be enough to send her to the hospital being high risk. She's mostly been staying at home during the, the pandemic.

Speaker 9: (07:19)

I don't wanna regret it at the end of the day, knowing that, oh, I hung out with someone who's actually positive. That's what scares me right now.

Speaker 5: (07:27)

Those who are immunocompromised may not get full or any protection from COVID 19 vaccinations. So extra doses are being recommended, but Santos. Isn't sure how to feel about transit into the next pandemic phase.

Speaker 9: (07:40)

In the last few days, I keep thinking about the words like the world has moved on without me or without people who are undergoing the same things as I do.

Speaker 5: (07:51)

Santos is hoping to take a new antibody treatment that should give her some immunity against infection. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: (08:02)

The statewide mask mandate has been lifted, but not for California schools, state health officials plan to review the policy. Next week in the meantime, schools continue to face resistance to masking. Carrie Avila is a teacher and the president of the Vista teachers associate. She spoke to K P S midday edition about how it's leaving local teachers in the middle.

Speaker 9: (08:25)

The educators are also frustrated about the constant changes and the lack of clarity in some of our policies. I want them to know that our profession has profoundly changed. And just to know that they're doing what's best for your student, you know, and we all wanted to return to how it was before. Take the politics out of the classroom.

Speaker 1: (08:46)

She also says teachers are divided on the issue of whether or not masks should continue to be warning classrooms. Check out the KPBS midday edition podcast for the full interview Coming up. The Oceanside film festival starts today. We'll have more on what's being screened next just after the break. The Oceanside international film festival kicks off today. It's being held in person this year after being virtual for two years because of the pandemic K PBS arts reporter, Beth Amando spoke with the festival's executive director, Lou Niles. She begins by asking him about the start of the festival,

Speaker 10: (09:59)

Our opening night. We're extremely excited about it's the 20th anniversary of the film, blue crush, Carly, my wife, and also the co programmer and artistic director of the film festival worked on that film back in, uh, early two thousands. So she called up a bunch of her friends. We decided to have a see if, Hey, can we pull together a 20th anniversaries? Nobody else is doing it except us. So the director, John, Stockwell's really excited. Uh, Sonoa lake who's one of the actresses and surfers in the film. And, and of course Kate Bosworth is coming to, and she's really excited. And

Speaker 11: (10:38)

Let's listen to a little bit of a scene from blue crush.

Speaker 6: (10:41)

Who is that

Speaker 12: (10:42)

You, that was the first time he beat me at the Mene contest in Oliva. He's talking all that trash and how you would be number one, I was so at you, cuz I knew you would be the boys spinning. Remember that they had to throw up some [inaudible] rule, barring you from the boys' context.

Speaker 11: (11:04)

Talk about how this film is appropriate for the Oceanside film festival, cuz you are a beach community and you are interested in things like surfing and others, outdoor sports like this.

Speaker 10: (11:15)

It, it, it really is. I mean, we feel like we're not reaching and just picking some random film that had its 20th anniversary because of course, Carly worked on the film. I went and visited her for 10 days in Hawaii and experienced the, the wildness that was shooting on set at pipeline. John Stockwell, the director of the film, he was in top gun, he plays Cougar and top gun and, and there's kind of a weird tie to Oceanside there too. So it, it all kind of worked together to really be something that, that we thought could happen and, and it is happening.

Speaker 11: (11:48)

So how would you define the personality of the festival in terms of the kind of programming you do and the kind of films you look

Speaker 10: (11:54)

For? I think we've talked about this before, where you like that, that we have the kind of these little curated special events that aren't, it's not just wall, the wall films. Sometimes we have these interesting things. It may have something to do with TV, like animal kingdom, or may have something to do with music like, uh, Mrs. Henry's last waltz. We had Taylor deal to a, kind of a curated talking story about some of the scenes that were cut from his films. And that's what we really like. We like to kind of base that as kind of the anchors throughout our, our festival. And we always have a surf block. We always have some kind of cause environmental related films, but we really let it, our festival become what was sent to us that year. And then Carly and Sterling do an amazing job of curating the film blocks that there may be an animated, uh, narrative and a documentary in the same block.

Speaker 10: (12:47)

So you're not going to see a, a block of documentaries or a block of narrative shorts. Um, they tie together with different themes. You know, like we have extraordinary people as one of our themes, our sustainable planet thrills and kills family dynamics. And we have our surf skate block, of course. So some of 'em are really kind of creative titles that tie together some sort of theme that's going on in the different films. And it's some of 'em a little bit more literal, but we like to just see what comes in and that's kind of what grows the festival each year.

Speaker 11: (13:22)

You have this fabulous documentary, the whale of Lareno, which really gets to some very complicated issues because it's not, it's not necessarily what you think it's going to be because it ends up showing how complicated environmental issues can be.

Speaker 10: (13:37)

I, I work my regular job in sustainability, in health and wellness. And so I, I, I think it's wonderful when we can show these amazing films and kind of tell some of the truths that, that people are living, that it might be easy from, you know, a desk in Southern California somewhere to say, oh, well, we need to do this. We need to recycle. And we need to be not farm those types of animals or fish, these types of fish. Um, when it's something that, you know, maybe for hundreds of years, certain people have done, it's, it's their way of life. It's how they even, you know, have energy or light in their shack, these, these animals. So it's really fascinating to me. And I that's, I think the wonderful thing about filmmaking is some of these stories that just come in and blow us away over the years, you know, like a top rack from Turkey a couple years ago. And I feel like the whale of Lono is another one that just really takes you deep into a place you never even would've thought, uh, existed or that you would never experience in your normal life.

Speaker 11: (14:39)

Were there any films that particularly stood out for you that are your favorites?

Speaker 10: (14:44)

Well, I'm, I'm a little biased to the, to the surf block. I, I really like this. Uh, keep it a secret, which is our headliner on Saturday night, it's a surf film about surf discovery in the seventies in Ireland, which that's interesting Ireland and surf discovery. There's a lot of films about that, but it doesn't just focus on surfing it dives in a lot to the troubles. You know, what it was like to, you know, be a youth trying to go surfing and then trying to, you know, run a machine gun gauntlet or, you know, anything terrible could happen. It was definitely scary and threatening. Let's

Speaker 11: (15:20)

Hear a clip from that film.

Speaker 13: (15:21)

You have a surfboard on top of the car, the British army would be what the hell is that? And they would be bringing you in to check that there wasn't. So in those surfboards, that was a, I don't know, a rocket or whatever, but you just got used to it. I mean, that was just the way. And you learn when you were driving from way to B, you just learned the areas not to go into

Speaker 11: (15:42)

And tell people about your venue.

Speaker 10: (15:44)

Our venue is, uh, the Brooks theater it's in the heart of downtown Oceanside, right in the middle of the Oceanside cultural district. It's a historic theater and we've been there for quite a number of years now. Um, we will have our opening night, uh, red carpet on Tuesday, the 22nd at the Oceanside museum of art. So it's outside. They have a beautiful patio doing the red carpet with, uh, the stars of, and crew from blue crush. Uh, and then we'll walk the couple blocks that it is over to the Brooks theater and enjoy the screening and have a great Q and a afterwards.

Speaker 1: (16:20)

And that was Lou Niles, executive director of the Oceanside international film festival. He was speaking with K PBS arts reporter Beth Amando, the Oceanside international film festival runs to today through Sunday. And that's it for the podcast today as always, you can find more San Diego news I'm Anica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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Hearings into leadership have yielded few answers for parents after the tragic July 20 accident where 9 troops drowned off the coast of San Clemente Island. Also, not everyone is ready for California’s move into an endemic phase of covid-19. Those who are immunocompromised may not receive full or any protection from COVID-19 vaccines. Plus, the Oceanside International Film Festival opens for in-person events today.