(AP) – A mortar shell explosion Monday at an Army depot in Hawthorne, Nev., killed seven Marines and injured eight other servicemen. Here are profiles of the victims:
AARON RIPPERDA, 26
Ripperda was looking forward to going back to college and wanted to “get on with his life,” his father, Kent Ripperda, told The Associated Press.
Joining the Marines never had been Aaron Ripperda’s first choice after his 2005 graduation from Highland High School, his father said. Ripperda did some college work in Chicago before graduating from a St. Louis culinary school, only to find the job market in that field flat.
Aaron Ripperda saw joining the military as a way to see the world, and felt he had a calling to join the Marines, his father said.
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.
WILLIAM TAYLOR WILD IV, 21
Lance Cpl. Wild joined the Marines shortly after graduating in 2010 from Severna Park High School near Annapolis, Md. His mother, Elizabeth Wild, said he was in a weapons platoon that was scheduled to deploy in November to Afghanistan. He already had been deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Kuwait.
Wild said her son always wanted to go into the military, like his father, who’s a command chief in the Air Force Reserve at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
DAVID FENN II, 20
Lance Cpl. Fenn, who was from Polk City, Fla., enlisted with the Marine Corps in June 2010. He was promoted to his current rank nine months later. Fenn, who served as a mortarman, received numerous accolades including a Combat Action Ribbon and National Defense Service Medal. He was last deployed in 2011 to Afghanistan.
MASON VANDERWORK, 21
Lance Cpl. Vanderwork already had served a tour in Afghanistan and loved being a Marine. His wife, 19-year-old Taylor Vanderwork, said they married the day after she graduated from high school and hoped to start a family. He loved driving his Mustang convertible and going to the beach.
He had a tattoo emblazoned on his chest, she said, that read, “Sacrifice. Without fear there is no courage.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)