A U.S. Marine who was critically injured during a training exercise on Camp Pendleton has undergone painful skin grafts, lost 30 pounds and was on a ventilator to treat scorched lungs -- but is determined to return to duty once he fully recovers.
The Gillette News Record reported Wednesday that Tagen Schmidt is up and walking and has been weaned off the ventilator.
Fourteen Marines and one Navy sailor were hospitalized -- three critically -- after their amphibious vehicle caught fire during a training exercise on September 13.
Schmidt remains in the burn center at the University of California San Diego Hillcrest Hospital.
On Sunday, he was surprised by his platoon and was promoted to lance corporal.
An exposed gas line appears to have caused the fiery training accident that engulfed the armored vehicle according to the Washington Post.
The Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) had pulled off the road in what is known as a "herringbone" formation.
While completing the maneuver, the vehicle seems to have busted a gas line, severing the pipe with its tires, the official told the Washington Post. Somehow, a spark hit the gas leak, igniting a blaze under the AAV.
Camp Pendleton is a U.S. Marine Corps base located north of San Diego.
A Pendleton spokesman said the vehicle has been used to transport Marines from sea to land since the 1970s.