(HAWTHORNE, Nev.) — The seven Marines killed in a training exercise explosion in Nevada this week ranged in age from 19 to 26, most of them veterans of the war in Afghanistan, the military said in announcing their identities Wednesday evening.
“We send our prayers and condolences to the families of the Marines and sailors who have been killed and injured in this tragic accident,” said Brig. Gen. Jim Lukeman, 2nd Marine Division commanding general, in the written announcement. “Our first priority is to provide them with the support they need during this very difficult time, and we’re doing that right now.”
The victims were identified as:
Five of the seven joined the Marines in June 2010, with Wild a Marine since October 2010 and Ripperda since September 2008.
Late Tuesday, the seven fallen Marines, all from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune, N.C., were honored at a memorial service in the small military town of Hawthorne, Nev.
Flags flew at half-staff as hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the Marines, who were killed when a powerful 60mm mortar exploded in a tube during a training exercise.
Many in Hawthorne said they heard the sirens and medical helicopters flying in to rescue the Marines. The explosion occurred at the Hawthorne Army Depot, 140 miles southeast of Reno, on Monday when a mortar round exploded in a tube at 9:55 p.m. MT.
The Marines have issued a suspension on the use of all 60mm mortars and their associated tubes while they conduct a review of what caused a round to explode. The suspension will affect mortars used both in training and in deployed settings.
Eight others were also injured in the blast and transported to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno for injuries that included trauma fractures and vascular injuries, hospital spokeswoman Stacy Kendall told ABC News on Tuesday.
In addition to those killed, a Navy corpsman was considered very seriously injured, the military said in announcing the names of the dead Wednesday night. Five Marines were seriously injured and two Marines were treated for minor injuries and released.
It was not clear where the Marines were standing when the blast occurred.
The Marines had been training at the Hawthorne Army Depot and the nearby Mountain Warfare Training Center for the past month, Lukeman said. The training was not in anticipation of an imminent deployment, he said.
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