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UPDATE: Marines: Human Error To Blame For Deadly Accident

By: WTAP News Email
By: WTAP News Email
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A military investigation has determined human error was to blame for a March mortar explosion that killed seven U.S. Marines in Nevada, including Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Taylor of Marietta.

In this undated photo released by the U.S. Marine Corps via the Marietta Times, Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor poses for a photograph. Taylor 21, with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C., was killed with 6 other Marines after mortar shell exploded during a training exercise at the Hawthorne, Nev., Army Depot. (AP Photo/U.S. Marin Corps)

UPDATE: 05/29/2013 11:45am

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) - A military investigation has determined human error was to blame for a March mortar explosion that killed seven U.S. Marines in Nevada.

1st Lt. Oliver David, a spokesman at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said in a press release Wednesday that a Marine operating a 60 mm mortar tube and ammunition "did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position."

The Marines did not release a copy of the investigative report and declined to provide any further details about the nature of the deadly mistake. Officials also would not say whether changes to training procedures were enacted as a result of the review.

Marine officials announced earlier this month that two officers and a non-commissioned officer were removed from command following the March 18 accident at Hawthorne Army Depot. Seven Marines and a sailor were also wounded.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Update: 5/21/2013 5:40 P.M.

Sixth district Ohio congressman Bill Johnson has introduced a bill dedicating the post office in honor of Lance Corporal Joshua Taylor.

Johnson says he remembers meeting the Marietta High School graduate, and believes the renaming would be a fitting tribute to Taylor.

"What a reputation that young man had," Johnson, a Republican, told WTAP Tuesday, "a man who loved his family, had a tremendous faith, and was not afraid to share that with people that he met."

Taylor, who was 21, lost his life during a training exercise at a Nevada Army depot.

Representative Johnson expects congress to quickly pass the bill.


UPDATE: 3/30/2013 4:52 PM

The streets of Marietta were solemn Saturday morning; filled with faces honoring a young Marine as he was laid to rest.

Lance Corporal Josh Taylor was killed by a mortar explosion in Nevada March 18.

More than a thousand people attended his funeral.

"We just want to support all of our troops and josh and his family," says Linda Miller.

It was a sentiment felt by the entire community.

People lined the streets with flags as the procession headed from Marietta High School and ended at Mound Cemetary.

The Patriot Guard Riders have been there for the family since they heard the tragic news.

"But overall it's all for him. We're here to honor him and we're here to be the strength more or less for the family so they have someone to lean on if they need to," says Patriot Guard Riders District 9 Ride Captain Kevin Geisel.

And for these riders, Josh's death is a personal loss.

"For me it kind of hits home because I also served in the Marine Corps when I was younger. So it's like losing a brother. Even though I didn't know him it's still like losing a brother," says Geisel.

Among the crowd, a group of marines. Welcomed and consoled by a community rallying together to show support and remember this young man.

"Well the community is outstanding. The city of Marietta and the surrounding areas. Like I said they've lost a son and the entire community has pulled together not only to honor Josh, but also the Marines who are coming in to do his services and that sort of thing. There's been an outpouring of community support," says Geisel.

The seven marines killed in that mortar explosion were part of the 1st Battallion, 9th Marine Regiment.


UPDATE: 3/27/2013 9:15 PM

"Josh was a wonderful man and he served his country proudly. We're going to miss him dearly," says Cindy Rogers.

Amber Tate says,"he was very polite, very courteous. He was just a good young man."

A man who left a mark on the valley. He was a Marietta High School graduate, going straight to the Marines after graduating in 2010.

He was just 21 years old, set be married in May, but instead of a welcome home celebration, the community is coming together to honor the fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor.

"Show my respects to a fellow classmate. I'm happy to see him serve our country but it's sad to see the situation," says classmate Justin Grahame.

Taylor was one of seven Marines killed during a mortar explosion at a training ground in Nevada. Those who knew him say he always dreamt of being a Marine.

"I'm just so thankful for Josh for being so willing to go out and fight for our country. My heart goes out to his parents. I couldn't imagine loosing a son, but how proud they must be losing a son fighting for our country," Connie Schultheisz says.

A loss shared in tears even by those who never met Taylor.

"Our hearts go out to the family. We're just so thankful for men like him that keep us safe," says Charles Schultheisz

A procession of over 300 vehicles led by the Patriot Guard Riders led the remains of Taylor through Marietta, down Pike Street to Hadley Funeral Home in Reno. Along the route, hundreds gathered with American flags showing their respects.

Across from the funeral home, an even bigger sign of support. A hanging American flag at over 40 feet tall was provided by American Flags and More in Marietta. Holding the flag up was mothers of marines.

"To show the Taylor family that we are here to support them not only today, but after all this is over. We're a huge marine military family and we're always going to be here to support them."

Support showed by hundreds in the valley. A community pouring love for the hero who called Marietta home.

"I just feel so bad for the family. It was a great turnout here for the family and I'm so glad to see it for everybody," says Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews.

Cpl. Josh Taylor's funeral will be Saturday, March 30th at 10:00 am at Marietta High School.


UPDATE: 03/26/2013 5:12 P.M.

The 21-year-old Marine died last week in a mortar explosion during a training exercise in Nevada.

His body will fly into Columbus Wednesday afternoon where Patriot Guard Riders will escort him back to Marietta.

They plan to be back in Marietta around 5:30 Wednesday evening.

The riders will take Exit 1 off the Interstate and end at the Hadley Funeral Home in Reno.

Anyone wanting to show support for the family is asked to line Pike Street, but stay clear of the road.

His funeral is at 10 o'clock Saturday morning in the Marietta High School auditorium.

Stay tuned to our web channel for any change in details.


Updated: 3/22/2013 6:10 P.M.

Flags are lining the streets of downtown Marietta, in honor of Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Taylor.

Taylor died in Tuesday's mortar training accident in Nevada.

The flags have already been placed on Front and Putnam streets, and soon will be seen at the entrance of the Marietta Armory.

"Someone has already purchased a brick in Josh Taylor's honor, which will be put in the walk of honor over at the Armory," says Sylvi Caporale, co-owner of American Flags and Poles. "To salute that, and to pay tribute to the Marine Corps, we are going to put up Marine Corps flags along the Armory walk of honor walkway."

The flag store provided the flags, and Marietta High School students helped set them up Thursday.

The Caporales themselves knew Josh before he entered the Marine Corps, upon his graduation from high school.


Updated: 3/20/2013 10:35 p.m.

The Marines have released the names of the fallen warriors, and a statement from Lt. Col. Andrew J. McNulty, Commanding Officer for 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Seven Marines with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were killed and eight others were injured, which includes a Navy Corpsman, in an explosion during a live-fire training exercise at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev., shortly before 10 p.m. on Monday, March 18, 2013.
Provided below are the names of our fallen warriors:

Private First Class Joshua M. Martino, 19, of Clearfield, Pa., served as a mortarman assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in July 2012. Martino's awards include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Lance Cpl. David P. Fenn II, 20, of Polk City, Fla., was a mortarman assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in June 2010 and was promoted to his current rank in March 2011. Fenn's awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He was most recently deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2011.

Lance Cpl. Roger W. Muchnick Jr., 23, of Fairfield, Conn., was a mortarman assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in June 2010 and was promoted to his current rank in May 2011. Muchnick's awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He was most recently deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2011.

Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Taylor, 21, of Marietta, Ohio, was a mortarman assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in June 2010 and was promoted to his current rank in August 2011. Taylor's awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He was most recently deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2011.

Lance Cpl. Mason J. Vanderwork, 21, of Hickory, N.C., was a mortarman assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in June 2010 and was promoted to his current rank in August 2011. Vanderwork's awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He was most recently deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2011.

Lance Cpl. William T. Wild IV, 21, of Anne Arundel, Md., was a mortarman assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in October 2010 and was promoted to his current rank in December 2011. Wild's awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He was most recently deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2011.

Corporal Aaron J. Ripperda, 26, of Madison, Ill., was an anti-tank missleman assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in September 2008 and was promoted to his current rank in April 2011. Ripperda's awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He was most recently deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2011.

The injured were transported to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada for treatment and further evaluation. The Navy Corpsman is considered very seriously injured; five others are seriously injured and two Marines have been treated for minor injuries and released. Status updates of those injured will be provided as it becomes available.

"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. "Our first priority is to provide them with the support they need during this very difficult time, and we're doing that right now."

Currently, there is an employment suspension of the 60mm mortar system across the Marine Corps. All units using the system have been directed to immediately discontinue using the mortar system until further notice.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.


-----STATEMENT-----
Provided is a statement from 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Andrew J. McNulty:

A great tragedy occurred to the Marine Corps and the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, family on March 18, 2013. We lost seven Marines in a training accident where it appears that a 60mm mortar system failed to function as designed. We also have seven Marines and one Sailor recovering from physical injuries as well as many more recovering from the events of that night. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the families and friends of our fallen angels.

Currently, there are several teams of investigators already on site, working around the clock, to determine what happened so we can prevent it from happening again. We do not know what caused the mortar system failure.

We completed a Winter Mountain Exercise at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., on March 11, 2013, and transitioned to live-fire training that started on March 13, 2013, at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev. The Marines and Sailors of 1/9 performed superbly throughout the training at both locations. We expected to complete the exercise upon the conclusion of the night live fire training, which we were in the process of executing on that fateful evening.

The Marines' and Sailors' response to the incident to provide first aid for our injured was nothing short of heroic. There were numerous acts of selflessness as our injured cared for each other and directed corpsmen to care for more severely injured before being treated themselves. The Marines and Sailors on scene did everything possible to care for and save those affected by the mortar system malfunction.

The outpouring of support from the local community, the police and medical personnel who cared for our Marines and Sailors, other units throughout the Marine Corps, and the American public is truly humbling. Through their efforts, we are able to better assist the families of the fallen and injured.

It is through our actions that we honor and memorialize the fallen. Our efforts are now dedicated to caring for our injured, their family and friends, the families and friends of our fallen, and the Marines and Sailors of the battalion.


Updated: 3/20/2013 6:20 P.M.

In his less than three years in the Marines, Joshua Taylor had been deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait. his principal at Marietta High School remembers he came back to see his classmates after serving overseas.

"I remember after basic training," said Principal Bill Lee. "He came back in his dress uniform, and he was so very proud. He visited with some of his teachers, and me, and some of the students who knew him. And we were all very proud of Josh."

But the military wasn't his entire life. He played in several sports at Marietta High, including track and swimming. And perhaps the thing most important to him was his religious beliefs.

"The greatest memory I have of him is of him walking down the hall with his Bible," said Matthew Chalfant, MHS Senior. "He read the Bible in study hall. That takes a special person, and Josh was special."

Chalfant was a freshman at M.H.S. when Taylor was a senior. But he says Josh treated him not as a lower classman, but as an equal.

Word of Josh's death came as Marietta High was dealing with another tragedy involving an alumnus. Adam Biehl died over the weekend in a farm accident.

"A lot of our students knew Josh or knew Adam, or they know family members of both of them," said Gwynette Hammond, English teacher. "They were well-known students, and very well-liked students."

Josh had planned to get married in the spring. He had three sisters and a brother.


Friends of the family tell WTAP News that Joshua Taylor, a Marietta native, was one of the seven Marines killed in a mortar shell explosion in Nevada Tuesday. Eight other Marines were seriously injured during the training exercise.

The Department of Defense will not release the names of the deceased until 24 hours after the notification of family. Attempts by WTAP News to reach the family have been unsuccessful.

Stay tuned to WTAP News for the latest information.


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