Three years after a tragedy at the Hawthorne Army Depot took the lives of seven Marines on March 18, four U.S. Marines from the 1st Battalion 9th Marines “The Walking Dead” returned to Hawthorne to meet with emergency personnel who were on duty on that fateful night.
During a live fire training exercise, a double-loaded mortar tube exploded killing seven Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., eight others were injured.
The tragedy united Hawthorne only a day afterwards when people from all over crowded Veterans Park in support of those who were injured or had perished.
Emergency personnel who responded that night along with the doctors and nurses of our rural hospital, Mt. Grant General Hospital, were thrown into a setting much like that of a movie scene while trying to attend to those who were hurt. With the help of Care Flight, injured were taken to Reno for further care.
Lindsey Ives, an EMT for Mineral County, organized the event where Marines, Sean Burke; Levi Herring; Ian Bartlett and Ryan Palmer were able to casually meet those who helped them on that night, three years ago.
Paramedic Sarah Dillard said, “For me, it was an honor to serve these Marines. They protect us every day of every year. It was an honor to help them in their time of need.”
She was unable to put a name on her emotions, as the night before, emergency personnel met under the Big Flag to reflect back on their service while Amazing Grace was played on the bagpipes by Mineral County Pipes and Drums Honor Guard, Robert Weaver.
“I don’t think surreal is the right word. [Meeting the Marines] was emotional and a deep feeling of gratitude was mutual,” she concluded.
A plaque at Veterans Park faces the training range where the seven were killed, listing the names of Pfc. Joshua M. Martino; Lance Cpl. David P. Fenn II; Lance Cpl. Roger W. Muchnick Jr; Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Taylor; Lance Cpl. Mason J. Vanderwork; Lance Cpl. William T. Wild IV and Cpl. Aaron J. Ripperda.
The four Marines also visited the training range and the memorial on the grounds of the Depot.