The Marine Corps is taking steps to better prevent heat-related injuries and deaths after a North Carolina-based corporal died during a 6-mile hike last summer.
Cpl. Alexis Aaron Alcaraz, a 22-year-old field radio operator assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, fell out of a unit hump just before sunrise Aug. 13 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Officials concluded that he died of heat stroke, according to the investigation into his death, which was obtained by Marine Corps Times via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The investigating officer determined Alcaraz might have been more susceptible to heat illness because: he didn’t have a full night’s sleep, he went on the hike on an empty stomach, his normal routine had been disrupted while on temporary assignment duty in the days leading up to his death, or that he had consumed alcohol while on that trip.
Knowing temperatures would rise throughout the day, Alcaraz’s leaders scheduled the Aug. 13 hike for the 1/8 Marines to kick off at 4:40 a.m., about two hours before the sun was scheduled to come up that day. While the temperature stayed below 73 degrees throughout the duration of the hike, the early start meant the Marines participating couldn’t hit the chow hall, which opened at 6 a.m.