The Vega Family

Patrick Vega

February 15, 1997- March 25, 2018

At the age of 21, Patrick enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a Marine.  On March 12, 2018 Patrick shipped out to Marine Recruit Depot San Diego, to start his 13 weeks of Marine Corp boot camp.  As Patrick went through his first week of training, he was not able to make the required time for the 1 ½ mile run and was moved to the Physical Conditioning Platoon.   

While in his second week of training he fell ill and reported several times to “sick bay ” for medical treatment.  As his condition began to worsen he was given anti-nausea medication and Mucinex which he was expected to take orally even though he had been continuously vomiting for several days.  Patrick, became so weak that he had to be wheeled around sick bay in a wheelchair, he also had to be helped in the “chow hall”.  At one point two other Marine recruits had to help him get his food because he was unable to stand or carry his food tray.  Patrick, vomited in the chow hall and was quickly taken back to the barracks.  On the morning of March 23, 2018, Patrick, wanting to continue with his training attempted to run around the track and collapsed.  As a result a Navy Corpsman placed two large bandages on his knees and he was placed in the back of a golf cart and taken back to the barracks. 

The Vega Family - Alex Vega

Later that evening a Drill instructor told the Command Duty Officer, Captain Bardon Mcauley of Patrick’s continuing vomiting and declining health at which time Captain Mcauley, stated he would not call EMS for one recruit who is throwing up.   Everyone knew how bad Patrick’s medical condition was to the point that the evening Drill Instructor ordered the recruits on “Fire-Watch” to check on Patrick every ten minutes.  Basically Patrick, had been left to the care of young, inexperience, scared recruits.  On the night of March 23, 2018 Patrick was discovered in his bed, unresponsive and without a pulse. He was rushed to Naval Hospital a few miles away where he was placed on life support. Patrick passed away 36 hours later on March 25, 2018.   

On March 26, 2018, no more than 24 hours after Patrick’s death, a one page, one paragraph memo, was authored by a Special Agent from Naval Criminal Investigative Services Miramar, which officially stated Patrick “had a history of Sepsis with four incidents resulting in admittance to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). “  The NCIS memo also “characterized Patrick’s death as a result of natural causes and medically expected resulting from an autoimmune condition”   The memo continued stating AFMES (Armed Forces Medical Examiners System) was not conducting an autopsy because (redacted name of doctor) diagnosis of cause and manner of death.  Lastly the NCIS memo stated “(redacted name of doctor) continued AFMES was not going to conduct an investigation of the incident based on consultation with (redacted name).  Sadly any type of investigation into the Patrick’s death was stopped by the NCIS memo, just 24 hours after his death.  In fact his official death certificate is incomplete and states a different cause of death.

What makes the lack of an autopsy and a proper NCIS/AFMES death investigation disturbing is the fact that Patrick never had a history of “sepsis or an autoimmune condition”.  The false narrative and misleading information prevented any real, time sensitive  investigation from taking place.  It took over two years of phone calls, countless emails and meetings with lawmakers to force NCIS to investigate Patrick’s death. Unfortunately, witnesses proved difficult to locate, other witnesses refused to provide a statement, memories were blurred and key details were lost.  Tragically the systemic failure of several Department of Defense organizations to properly act have all contributed to the death of Patrick.      

Patrick died from complications of the common cold.  It’s painful to know negligent US Navy medical care, poor Marine Corps leadership decisions led to his death.  Disgustingly, the truth of what really happened to Patrick has been tainted by a false and misleading official NCIS document and narrative. So far there has not been any type of accountability, just push back from DoD.  

If you served onboard Marine Recruit Depot San Diego (March 2018) or were a Marine or recruit during the time period that Patrick was stationed onboard MCRD San Diego and have any information please contact us at [email protected] or (805) 530-5899.     

As a little boy Patrick always wanted to join the Marine Corp. He would dress up and play “Marine”. He wanted to join right after high school. But as his Mother I urged him to attend college and go in as an officer. He was not interested in school and just wanted to pursue his dream. He wanted to serve his country and experience the life of a Marine. He assured me once done with his service he would go back to school and become a teacher. He loved teaching. 

Patrick learned to swim at the age of 3 and was an avid swimmer. He loved being in the water. He joined his first swim club at the age of 6 and swam competitively most of his young life. In 2010, Patrick made the qualification to swimming in the Junior Olympics. 

Patrick also played both club and high school water polo and really enjoyed being part of the team and the fast-hard-hitting pace and aggressiveness of the sport.  

Whether freshwater or saltwater, Patrick enjoyed being in the water. During the summers he participated in the Ventura County Junior Lifeguard  program and just loved the ocean and having the sand between his toes.  At age 10 he earned his PADI certificate and enjoyed diving. 

He also spent endless days looking for that perfect wave with his friends and dad, surfing long into the evening, just waiting for that perfect ride. 

Patrick, taught children swim lessons at the local community pool and enjoyed teaching others to swim. His students loved him. Many of the families who he taught were devastated of the news of his passing.

He was an incredible big brother to his sister Kate who also loves the water and an incredible son with so much ahead of him. 

In his honor and for his passion for the water, we established the Patrick Vega Swim Scholarship

Patrick’s legacy of teaching others to swim is a legacy of life. The scholarship provides swim lessons for those who cannot afford to pay and it also sponsors young men and women to become lifeguards. 

Patrick continues to give back to his community as well as saving lives. “As endless as the ocean, as timeless as the tides our love for Patrick will always be.”

The Vega Family Military Legacy

Albert Farrall
(Maternal Great Grandfather

He was born in Crewe, England and immigrated to the United States. We are unsure of when he became a US citizen but he distinguished himself by serving in the US Navy.

Served in World War II

In 1942, at the age of 30 Albert, was drafted into the US Navy as a Seabee. He was married with 2 daughters. Albert was a cabinet maker by trade.

He served in one of the most iconic battlefields of WWII, Guadalcanal and in several other island campaigns. As a trained “Lifeguard” the Seabees used Albert to dive into the ocean to blow things up so they could secure and build runways. After the war Albert returned to the United States and continued working as a cabinet worker until his death at the age of 78 on February 4, 1991.

Theodore Alvin Behrens
(Paternal Great Grandfather)

Served in World War I, 1915-1918 US Army. There is very little information on his military service. However, Theodore survived WWI and returned to the United States where he began a family. His only son Alvin Behrens was just five years old when his father Theodore died on May 28, 1932 at the Los Angeles VA Hospital at the age of 39.

Alvin John Behrens
(Maternal Grandfather)

Served in both the Korean War and the Cold War. Alvin, was first drafted into the US Army in 1951, but was sent home to care for his dying grandfather as the only male in the family. His grandfather Geovanni, passed away the same year in 1951.

Alvin, wanting to finish his military service went back into the military by joining the United States Marine Corp. He served in the Korean War and safely returned home. He finished his enlistment in 1954. Alvin, went into the military right out of high school. In his younger days he enjoyed surfing and hanging out at the beach. After the serving in the Korean War, he started a small dry-cleaning business which is still operating to this day. Alvin enjoyed working out at the gym and loved to play racquetball. His passion was his family and debating everything from the proper way to dry cleaning to politics.

Alvin passed away at the age of 60, on June 24, 1988.

Manuel Vega

Served in the United States Marine Corps from 1984 to 1992. In the mid 1980’s Manuel was deployed as a Marine Scout Sniper to the conflict in Lebanon where he took part in several military operations in the Mediterranean. He continued his military service servicing in the First, Second and Third Marine Divisions. In 1989 while serving in Korea he took part in the rescue of several severely injured and burned Marines from a crashed CH-53 Marine helicopter. For his heroic actions he was awarded the Nations Highest Peace Time Award, The Navy and Marine Corp Medal for Heroism. Manuel was honorably discharged in 1992. Married and living in Oxnard, CA he joined the Los Angeles Police Department and later made a transfer to the Oxnard Police Department where he retired in 2008. Today he is a small business owner. He is married to Amy Behrens, and is the father of Patrick and Kate.

Armando Vega
(Paternal Uncle)

Served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1988 to 1992. Armando was born in Mexico and came to the United States as a child. As an adult he became a United States Citizen. He later joined the United States Marine Corps to fulfill his patriotic duty to his country. Armando, enjoys working on vintage cars.

Remembering Patrick

Patrick Vega

Patrick Vega Swim Scholarship

This scholarship was established in 2019 to honor the memory of Patrick Vega.

Patrick’s legacy of teaching others to swim is a legacy of life. The scholarship provides swim lessons for those who cannot afford to pay and it also sponsors young men and women to become lifeguards. 

Swim-A-Thon 2022
Swim-A-Thon 2018

Patrick’s Apple Tree

The Vega Family has a tradition of planting apple trees at each place they live. As a memorable surprise to the Vega’s, the staff of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and Preschool planted this young apple tree in Patrick’s honor. Our Redeemer held a special place in the hearts of the Vega’s, both Patrick and Kate attended preschool there and Amy worked as a teacher for eleven years and nine years as Director.


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