AP: Relatives Identify 4 Victims of Explosion at Army Depot
Relatives are confirming the names of four of the seven Marines who died in a mortar explosion at an Army ammunition depot in Nevada.
The grandfather of 23-year-old Roger Muchnick of Connecticut says he's among the dead. He says his grandson had served in Afghanistan.
Also among the victims was 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor of Ohio. Larry Stephens says his grandson fulfilled a nearly lifelong dream when he joined the military right after graduating from high school in Marietta, Ohio in 2010.
Marine officers from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina arrived at the Hawthorne Army Depot yesterday to start trying to figure out what caused the shell to explode in its firing tube. The accident prompted the Pentagon to stop the use of the weapons until an investigation can determine whether they are safe.
The United States Marine Corps reported Wednesday morning that another injured Marine has been reported bringing the total injured to eight. Renown Regional Medical Center says six of the patients it received are still hospitalized; three are in serious condition and three are in fair condition.
A general family assistance center phone line, 775-982-6060, has been activated.
Residents of the area around the base gathered yesterday to mourn the loss of the seven Marines. Nearly 300 people attended a brief memorial service yesterday at a city park across the street from the base. A giant American flag flew at half staff.
Here are profiles of victims identified by family members as reported by the Associated Press:
AARON RIPPERDA, 26
Ripperda was a football player while he attended high school in Highland, Ill., near St. Louis. He was respectful and hardworking, according to Highland High School Assistant Principal Karen Gauen, and "definitely had the discipline for the military."
Ripperda had dreams of becoming a professional chef. His aunt, Beverly Lesicko, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he joined the Marines for a chance to explore the world. He was scheduled to come home in May.
JOSH TAYLOR, 21
Marine Lance Cpl. Taylor, who worked with mortars and served tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait, had dreamed being in the Corps since watching the History Channel as a boy. He joined right after graduating from a high school in Marietta, Ohio, in 2010.
Taylor's grandfather, Larry Stephens, said Taylor was engaged to be married, with a wedding planned for May.
His fiancee's father called him an exceptional person.
"You don't meet many young men like him today," Keith Malone told The Marietta Times. "He was respectful to everyone, very humble, just happy, happy all the time."
Taylor is also survived by three sisters and a brother.
ROGER MUCHNICK, 23
Muchnick, who'd been in the Marines for about three years, had served in Afghanistan and was considering returning to college after his enlistment was up. He played high school lacrosse and football in Westport, Conn., and later played lacrosse at Eastern Connecticut State University, where he studied business.
In a biography on the university's website, Muchnick said the one thing he would like to do before he died was "live," and his most embarrassing moment was getting caught lip-synching in a school talent show.
"He was at the top of his game when this happened," said his grandfather, Jerome Muchnick. "You can't imagine losing a very handsome, 23-year-old grandson who was vital and loving."
JOSH MARTINO, 19
Pfc. Martino, who hailed from Dubois, Pa., and was preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan, aspired to be a Marine since boyhood.
"Since he was probably 8 years old he wanted to be a Marine," said his mother, Karen Perry. "That's all he wanted to do."
Martino was a talkative former high school athlete and accomplished hunter who hoped to marry his fiancee later this year, Perry said.
His mother said she first heard a radio news report about the Monday accident, then three Marines arrived at her workplace to say her son was among the seven dead.
Sunday, May 19 2013 7:02 PM EDT2013-05-19 23:02:30 GMT
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