California Marine unit loses M110 sniper rifle

by Vern Evans

A sniper rifle went missing on March 8 at a Marine base in California.

Battalion Landing Team 1/5, the ground combat element of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, reported an M110 semi-automatic sniper system unaccounted for “following a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle movement” at Camp Pendleton, California, Marine spokesman Capt. Brian Tuthill told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement Thursday.

The unit immediately began searching the rifle along the truck’s route and elsewhere on the base, according to Tuthill. More Marines from the battalion — 1st Battalion, 5th Marines — helped out with the search in the next two days.

But the rifle still is missing, Tuthill said.

“The incident is under investigation by NCIS and no further information is available at this time,” Tuthill said in the statement.

Some Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit already have deployed aboard the amphibious transport dock Somerset and, on March 8, wrapped up an exercise in Thailand. A shortage of ready-to-go amphibious ships, however, means the rest of the unit will deploy from California sometime in March, Defense News previously reported.

This isn’t the first time a weapon has gone missing from a Marine unit.

Between 2010 and 2019, 204 Marine firearms were lost or stolen, and only 14 were later recovered, a 2021 Associated Press investigation found.

In January 2023, the North Carolina-based 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, lost one M18 service pistol and two pistol magazines — a little more than three years after two rifles went missing from the same unit.

Editor’s note: The photo accompanying this story was updated at 2:10 p.m. Eastern Time to present an accurate depiction of an M110. In the previous photo the Marine Corps incorrectly identified in a caption as showing an M110.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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