More Marines Leaving For Panama With PM-Panama, Bjt
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ About 260 Marines flew to Panama today and more were scheduled to leave tonight for jungle training in the troubled country, officials said.
The Marines flew out on a chartered Air America airliner at about 10 p.m. Tuesday from Miramar Naval Air Station, said Gunnery Sgt. Stan Pederson, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base about 60 miles north of San Diego.
He said 240 other members of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, and the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, will leave about 7 p.m. from Miramar.
The departures are unrelated to the U.S. military buildup prompted by Panama’s political turmoil, Pederson said.
The Marines will join about 300 other members of their battalions who left Friday for a three-week course at the Army’s jungle operations training center at Fort Sherman, about 50 miles from Panama City, he said.
″I’m sure that they’re aware what’s happening down there,″ Pederson said. ″We’re going to concentrate on training down there and be back first of May.″
On Monday, a 25-year-old Marine at a U.S. Air Force base in Panama City was mistakenly shot to death by fellow Marine guards while investigating a suspected break-in at the base.
About 1,300 additional U.S. servicemen were sent to Howard Air Force Base outside Panama City last week to provide greater security for the Panama Canal, American installations and U.S. citizens.
The United States is backing deposed President Eric Arturo Delvalle in his attempt to oust Panama’s strongman, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, who was indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.