Late Monday evening while conducting a nighttime live-fire training exercise, several U.S. Marines were killed and injured when a 60mm mortar round detonated in or around the tube (the caliber has not yet been confirmed but the Marine Corps utilizes 60, 81 and 120mm mortar systems). The incident took place in the live-fire training area south of the massive U.S. Army ammunition depot in Hawthorne, Nevada about 91 miles southeast of Reno.
Seven U.S. Marines were killed from the initial detonation and subsequent lag time delay while waiting for a “flight for life” to arrive on scene. An additional seven were injured and moved to regional hospitals for care. Many media outlets have reported that the Marines were from II MEF stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Camp Lejeune is home to hundreds of units so saying they were from II MEF is a very generalized statement and could mean anyone from LAR to 9th Marine Regiment; we just have to wait for more information to be released.
Back history on Hawthorne: Many people have never heard of the Hawthorne Depot before this. It is one of those obscured places like Area 51 or China Island. An apocalyptic style ammunition reserve for when all hell breaks loose, mothballed 16-inch naval guns, seized Nazi ammunition still packed in grease and a massive toxic lake (Walker Lake) to the north. With a population of around 3,000, there is only a hand full of military personnel stationed at the depot. The major of the town’s population works there and it is one of those situations where if the depot were not there then the town would not exist.
So why were Marines there training so far away from adequate access to medical support? The nearest medical trauma centers require patients to be flown via helicopters to Reno (91 miles to the northwest) or Fallon (64 miles). So why train there? I speak from experience, my Marine Special Operation Team conducted vital pre-deployment training in Hawthorne. The massive size and terrain of Hawthorne is ideal for units preparing for deployment to Afghanistan (period). They offer everything from demolition ranges, vehicle live-fire maneuver courses, high angle marksmanship areas and indirect fire impact areas. It is a one-stop shop for “Afghan style” training.
My heart goes out to the Marines killed and injured in this tragic accident. Please keep their families in your thoughts as they cope with this difficult event.
In addition, I would like to add that on Tuesday, the following morning after the incident. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the same breath on the floor of the Senate tried to relate this accident to the sequestration cuts of last month. I feel sick to my stomach. Hey Reid, these Marines have a sense of loyalty and love for their Country that you could never understand. I would not give a squirt of piss for your political career.
Cleared Hot -Ski
Level Zero Heroes | The Story of U.S. Marine SOF in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan
Dedicated to the loving memory and sacrifice of GySgt. Robert L. Gilbert & SSgt. Patrick R. Dolphin