U.S. Navy and Marine Corps recruit training deaths in San Diego, California, 1973-1985; a review of 31 cases

J Forensic Sci. 1992 Jan;37(1):185-94.


The deaths of military recruits associated with training activities nearly always fall under close scrutiny from relatives of the deceased recruit and the media. The literature contains isolated case reports of recruit deaths but no comprehensive reviews of all deaths at a single training facility. The purpose of this study is to describe the circumstances and causes of all recruit deaths occurring at the Naval Training Command and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, from 1973 through 1985. Thirty-one male recruits died in training during this period; eight died from medical conditions not detected by preenlistment questioning or examination. In five of these cases, the conditions were probably known to the recruit but were not listed on a medical history form. Seven recruits died in incidents related to training, and there were six cases of "sudden cardiac death," as well as eight deaths caused by infectious diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / mortality
  • California
  • Cause of Death*
  • Death, Sudden*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac
  • Humans
  • Infections / mortality
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / mortality
  • Physical Examination
  • Physical Exertion
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sickle Cell Trait / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Suicide
  • United States
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality