OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) -- The mother of one of the 15 Marines injured in a fiery training accident at Camp Pendleton said she panicked when she learned her son was one of the wounded.
“It made my heart hurt to see him for sure, you know, with his face all burnet and knowing how bad burns hurt,” said J.R. Koontz, mother of Marine Samuel Koontz.
Fifteen members of Charlie Company with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion were hurt when the AAV they were in exploded during a training exercise on land.
A photo posted to social media shows an AAV in a ditch engulfed in flames.
“He’s burnt on his face, and his ear and his hand. And he’s got a few abrasions here and there,” J.R. Koontz said of her son, who was released from the hospital. “He seems to be healing pretty well."
J.R. Koontz said she flew to San Diego the morning after the accident and visited her son at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.
“It was really comforting because there was like eight Marines there in uniform. They stood there all night. They never leave him alone,” she said.
Samuel Koontz posted on Facebook he has second and third-degree burns to his face but won’t have permanent scars.
He wrote the vehicle, also called a Track, “Exploded and the track caught fire, me and my squad exited out multiple ways some being injured more than others. Me and some of my squad mates got out and went back to pull the rest of our brothers out that couldn’t do it for themselves for various reasons.”
He also asks people to pray for the Marines still hospitalized and some badly injured.
“it’s just kind of a traumatic thing I think when you go through something like that,” J.R. Koontz said. “I believe they put all the guys that were hurt in the accident in the wounded warrior battalion so that gives them time to go over what happened."
The Marine Corps is not paying the flights and hotel stays for the families visiting the injured Marines. The Newport Beach 1st Marines 1st Battalion Foundation is picking up those bills to help the families.
“They paid for our hotel when we were up there and our flight to get back,” she said on the phone from her home in Washington state. “That was really unexpected and really, really nice.”
If you would like to donate, the Foundation asks you do so on their website.