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US Marine guarding US Embassy dies in Guatemala

U.S. Marines and other officials stand outside the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. (U.S. State Department photo)
May 16, 2022

A U.S. Marine assigned to guard the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala died last week and the incident is now under investigation.

Task & Purpose first reported the death of Marine Sgt. Dylan F. Pena on Saturday.

“It is with heavy hearts that the Marine Corps confirms that Sgt. Dylan F. Pena has died while serving as a Marine Security Guard at U.S. Embassy Guatemala City,” Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Kevin Stephenson told Task & Purpose.

Marine officials gave no details about the circumstances of Pena’s death. It is unclear what led to his death or precisely when it happened. The Marine Corps is now investigating the incident.

“The loss of Sgt. Pena is deeply felt by all those who served with him and our thoughts are with his family and friends who knew him best. The circumstances of Sgt. Pena’s death are currently under investigation,” Stephenson said.

The Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG) provides security at U.S. embassies around the world. The primary job of Marines assigned to this duty is to protect embassy personnel and prevent the compromise of national security information and equipment. They are also trained to respond to intrusions, bomb threats, demonstrations and riots, fires, natural disasters and other security concerns that may arise at embassies or consulates.

MCESG serves at 180 different locations in 150 different countries. Over 50 of these locations are eligible for Hazardous Duty/Imminent Danger/Combat Tax Exclusion pay. 

According to Task & Purpose, some embassies can have as few as five Marines as guards while others can have much larger contingents. After the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the MCESG established the Marine Security Guard Security Augmentation Unit (MSAU). The MSAU is able to provide additional support during periods of increased security concern and act as a quick reaction force in response to immediate threats.

Deaths of Marine embassy security guards are relatively uncommon.

Sgt. Amanda Brazeal, a Marine Security Guard assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, Iraq, died while taking part in physical training in July of last year, Marine Corps Times reported.