Pfc. Evan Bath

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The mother of a Wisconsin Marine missing after a training exercise off the Southern California coast said Monday her son wanted to be a Marine when he was young and enlisted as soon as he could.

Pfc. Evan Bath, of Oak Creek, a 19-year-old rifleman, is among the eight troops missing and presumed dead after their landing craft sank last week.

Bath joined the Marines in July 2019, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. His mother said she is in shock.

“When he was very young he wanted to be either a firefighter, a deep-sea diver or a master truck driver,” his mother, Aleta Bath of East Troy, said of her only child. “But then he decided at a young age it was the Marines and that was the only way.”

Aleta Bath attended his boot camp graduation in San Diego last year.

The Marines said Sunday they had called off the search that started Thursday when the amphibious assault vehicle sank with 15 Marines and one Navy sailor aboard. Eight Marines were rescued, but one later died and two are in critical condition.

The 26-ton craft took on water and quickly sank in hundreds of feet of water making it difficult to reach.

All of the Marines aboard were attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at nearby Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego.