Sgt. Colin Arslanbas and Cpl. Miguel A. Maya. Photos courtesy U.S. Marines.

Two Marines have died in separate on-duty incidents five days apart, one of whom was killed in a parachute mishap during a training exercise, Corps officials said. Both deaths underscore the inherently dangerous daily reality of military life.

“Safety is a priority for the Marine Corps, we train our Marines to the highest standards to ensure we are accomplishing our mission in a safe and professional manner,” Marine Corps spokesman Ryan Bruce told Task & Purpose. “The loss of these Marines has impacts across our Corps and we offer our sincerest condolences to their families, friends, and peers.  It would be inappropriate to speculate while these incidents remain under investigation.”

On Tuesday, Cpl. Miguel A. Maya, a Marine assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 died around 5 p.m. at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California during “routine military operations, a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing news release says. 

No further information was immediately available about the circumstances of Maya’s death, which is under investigation, according to the wing.

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That death comes just days after, Sgt. Colin Arslanbas, a Reconnaissance Marine assigned to  Camp Lejeune, North Carolina died in what Marine officials have confirmed was a parachuting accident. Capt. Emma Thompson, a spokeswoman for II Marine Expeditionary Force confirmed on Thursday that Arslanbas had been killed on April 18 in a parachute mishap during the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Composite Unit Training Exercise.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or 24th MEU, temporarily paused training for roughly 24 hours in the aftermath of Arslanbas’ death, Thompson told Task & Purpose.

“This provided an opportunity for the Marines and Sailors to process and mourn the loss of their teammate,” Thompson said. “Despite the pause, essential leadership continued to focus on deliberate planning for the upcoming operations critical to the 24 MEU’s Composite Unit Training Exercise.”

Marine Corps Times first reported that Arslanbas died in a parachute mishap. Little else has been released about the circumstances of his death. Thompson deferred questions to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS.

NCIS spokesman Darwin Lam told Task & Purpose that the agency is supporting the Naval Safety Center and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation of Arslanbas’ death. 

“Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS will not comment further while the investigation remains ongoing,” Lam said. “We will respectfully defer to the Naval Safety Center as the primary lead on this matter.”

Although not common, on-duty deaths are a part of Marine Corps life. Five Marines were killed in February when their CH-53E helicopter crashed. One Marine was killed and 14 were medically evaluated after their Amphibious Combat Vehicle rolled over in December at Camp Pendleton, California.

Two Marines have also died during physical training: One collapsed during a run in April at Bardufoss, Norway; and the other Marine died in October after collapsing while taking a Physical Fitness Test at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, according to the Naval Safety Center. Another Marine was killed in a motorcycle accident in March that happened during a command ride in San Diego.

UPDATE: 4/26/2024; This article has been updated with the identity of Cpl. Miguel A. Maya after it was released by the Marine Corps.

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