WESTPORT, Conn. (CBS/AP) — A Marine who grew up in Connecticut was one of seven killed in a training exercise explosion in Nevada this week, a family member said Wednesday.
Roger Muchnick, 23, grew up in Westport and was a 2008 graduate of Staples High School, his grandfather Jerome Muchnick told The Associated Press.
His grandson was born in Philadelphia.
“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 was training with fellow Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., 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.
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.
Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who didn’t know the family, said he has received several phone calls and emails asking about Muchnick.
“Obviously people are very upset,” Joseloff said. “It’s sad anytime we lose any soldier, but when it’s close to home it’s particularly devastating.”
Another Marine from Westport, Charles Rochlin, died in a car crash in town in 2009, three months after returning home from a tour in Iraq. He was 24 and a 2003 graduate of Staples.
Funeral arrangements for Muchnick were pending.
Another Marine who was killed in the Nevada blast was also from Pennsylvania.
The mother of the young man said he wanted to be a Marine since he was a young boy.
Karen Perry met Wednesday with the Marine Corps to plan funeral arrangements for Pfc. Josh Martino, 19, a native of Dubois.
“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.
She said Martino, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was in Nevada for training in preparation for being shipped out to Afghanistan. He hoped to marry his fiancee later this year, before the deployment. He had joined the Marine Corps in July.
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