Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Marines Say Human Error Caused Explosion That Killed 7

Photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Kronenberg

Photo credit: USMC

The names of fallen 1/9 Marines grace the side of the centerpiece of Veterans Memorial Park in Hawthorne, Nev., shortly after the plaque's unveiling May 18, 2013.

A command investigation into the deadly training explosion at the Hawthorne Army Depot that killed seven Marines has found human error was to blame.

In addition to the seven Marines who lost their lives, eight other service members of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, were injured in the March 18 accident in Hawthorne, Nevada.

According to a news release from the 2nd Marine Division:

The Marines employing one of the mortars did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position.

The investigation also determined that the mortar section had not conducted appropriate preparatory training leading up to the live-fire event.

Killed in the accident were:

-Private First Class Joshua M. Martino, 19, of Clearfield, Pa.

-Lance Cpl. David P. Fenn II, 20, of Polk City, Fla..

-Lance Cpl. Roger W. Muchnick Jr., 23, of Fairfield, Conn..

-Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Taylor, 21, of Marietta, Ohio.

-Lance Cpl. Mason J. Vanderwork, 21, of Hickory, N.C..

-Lance Cpl. William T. Wild IV, 21, of Anne Arundel, Md.

-Corporal Aaron J. Ripperda, 26, of Madison, Ill..

In response to the accident, Brig. Gen. James Lukeman, the commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, relieved three officers of their commands on May 8. They are Lieutenant Colonel Andrew McNulty, the commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines; Captain Kelby Breivogel, the company commander of Company A; and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Douglas Derring, the battalion’s Marine infantry weapons officer.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.