CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — The rhythmic echoes of running cadence are a familiar sound on any military installation, but the usual "lo-right-lay-oh" was accompanied by screams last Friday when an entire battalion was run over by a 7-Ton truck after a road guard failed to assume his post.
The Marines of 9th Communications Battalion are known for their penchant to engage in "boots and utes" battalion runs every Friday morning, led by their Battalion Commander, Col. Randall "Randy" Walker. Normally, formations are preceded by a pair of "road guards" wearing reflective vests to prevent vehicles from entering the roadway as the Marines run by.
However, when Walker shouted for road guards to "post" on the intersection they were about to pass through, one of the designated road guards, Private First Class Daniel Goodman, couldn't hear him over the cadence call and remained in formation.
Cpl. Nicholas Farina, a Motor Vehicle Operator with 7th Engineering Support Battalion, was towing a generator to a field exercise when he suddenly found himself bouncing over the bodies of the men and women of 9th Comm.
"I was just driving along 17th Street towards the FEX [sic] when I came upon an intersection. I looked both ways and saw a large group of Marines running towards me but they didn't post a road guard, so I assumed I was okay to drive," said Farina in his official statement of the tragedy. "The next thing I know, blood is spraying across my windshield."
According to forensic reports, The 7-Ton collided with the squad leaders while going roughly 30mph and just kept on going. Cpl. Farina will not be facing charges for the deaths of nearly a hundred Marines, however, as PFC Goodman failed to indicate that there was a formation nearby and that it was unsafe to enter the roadway.
"Posting a road guard is crucial to the survival of Marines during formation runs," said Safety Officer Mrs. Lizette Horton, the civilian in charge of ensuring the battalion is always in compliance with Department of Defense safety protocols.
"Without a road guard in the street, it is sometimes impossible for motorists to notice a formation right in front of them. Despite the fact that each individual Marine wore a reflective belt around their waist or hydration system, it is very plausible that Corporal Farina didn't see them — which is why it is so important that a Marine in a full reflective vest stand in front of the oncoming traffic and not allow them to pass."
Currently, the three surviving Marines of 9th Communications Battalion, who were not present due to being on light duty, are engaged in a safety stand-down.