Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor, 21, (left) and Marine Roger Muchnick, 23, were among seven Marines killed Monday in an explosion at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, family members told The Associated Press. (AP)
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Family members have identified three Marines killed Monday when a mortar exploded during a mountain warfare training exercise in Nevada, The Associated Press has reported.
Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor, a 21-year-old from Marietta, Ohio, fulfilled a nearly lifelong dream when he joined the military right after graduating from a southeastern Ohio high school in 2010, his grandfather said Wednesday.
Taylor’s grandfather, Larry Stephens, confirmed that Josh Taylor was one of seven killed when the mortar exploded.
Karen Perry said Wednesday she was working with the Marine Corps to plan funeral arrangements for her son, Pfc. Josh Martino, a 19-year-old native of Dubois, Penn., who also was killed in the blast.
The grandfather of a Connecticut native said his grandson also was one of the Marines killed in the incident.
Jerome Muchnick of Philadelphia told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his grandson, 23-year-old Roger Muchnick, grew up in Westport and was a graduate of Staples High School. He said his grandson served in Afghanistan and was thinking about going to college after the Marines.
The Marines killed were based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The explosion’s cause remains under investigation.
Stephens said his grandson had talked about being a Marine since he was about 5, watching the History Channel and studying the military. After joining, he worked with mortars and served tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait, and was preparing for another tour in Afghanistan.
“Josh was one of the nicest young men I’ve ever known,” Stephens told The Associated Press. “He was polite, respectful to everybody; he’d do anything for anybody. He was just a good kid.”
Stephens said Taylor was engaged to be married, with a wedding planned for May.
Taylor’s family members, including his parents who live in Marietta, were notified of the Marine’s death Tuesday morning. Survivors also include three sisters and a brother, his grandfather said.
His fiancée’s father called Taylor “an exceptional individual.”
“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.
“I have never seen a young man more respectful to his mother,” he said. “He loved his family, and he loved his country.”
Marietta High School Principal Bill Lee recalled Taylor proudly wearing his dress uniform when visiting the school while on leave. He called the Marine’s death “just a terrible, terrible loss.”
“Josh was an outstanding young man, and I’m very saddened by his passing,” Lee told the Times.
Muchnick was a 2008 graduate of Staples High School, his grandfather told The Associated Press.
“He was a fabulous kid. Just fabulous,” said Jerome Muchnick, 77, of Philadelphia. “He was at the top of his game when this happened. ... You can’t imagine losing a very handsome, 23-year-old grandson who was vital and loving.”
Roger Muchnick was in the Marines for about three years, had served in Afghanistan and was thinking about returning to college after his enlistment was up, his grandfather said.
Muchnick played on the football and lacrosse teams at Staples High School and went on to play lacrosse at Eastern Connecticut State University, where he studied business. His younger brother, Will, played with him on the Staples football team.
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.
Muchnick’s parents, Roger Muchnick Sr. and Kate Coakley, divorced and moved out of the family’s long-time home a few years ago, Jerome Muchnick said. Roger Muchnick Sr. moved to Asheville, N.C., and Coakley moved to Florida, he said.
Funeral arrangements for Muchnick were pending.
Karen Perry said her son, too, had wanted to be a Marine since he was a boy.
“Since he was probably 8 years old, he wanted to be a Marine,” she said. “That’s all he wanted to do.”
She first heard a radio news report about the Monday accident at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, then three Marines showed up at her workplace on Tuesday to say he was one of the seven who were killed.
Josh Martino, known as “Tino” to his friends, played football and ran track at Dubois Area Senior High School, liked to snowboard and was an avid hunter.
“If anybody reads any of his Facebook comments, which there’s hundreds of them being posted, he loved to talk,” Perry said. “He always got himself into trouble for that.”
She said Martino was in Nevada for training in preparation for being shipped out to Afghanistan. He hoped to marry his fiancée later this year, before the deployment. He had joined the Marine Corps in July.
Their last communication was Sunday, by text message, just about “things in general, what they were doing,” Perry said.
“Things had been a little rough out there when they were up in the mountains for a couple weeks,” she said.
All three were training with fellow Marines from Camp Lejeune on Monday night when a mortar shell exploded in its firing tube at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada. Seven men were killed and eight were injured, officials said. The cause of the accident is under investigation.