Marines killed in North Carolina on Wednesday are ID'd

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The two U.S. Marines who were killed Wednesday afternoon in a military vehicle crash near Camp Lejeune in North Carolina have been identified.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan E. Gierke, 19, from Lawrenceville, Georgia and Marine Corps Pfc. Zachary W. Riffle, 18, from Kingwood, West Virginia were killed when a vehicle carrying them and 15 others overturned and ejected them shortly after 1 p.m., the 2nd Marine Logistics Group said, the FOX station in Charlotte reported.

Gierke and Riffle were landing support specialists with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, officials said, according to the report.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan E. Gierke
(2nd Marine Logistics Group)

“My sincerest heartfelt condolences are extended to the family, friends, and colleagues of the Marines who lost their lives or were injured in Wednesday’s vehicle mishap,” said Brig. Gen. Forrest C. Poole III, commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group, the FOX Charlotte station reported. “Our commanders, chaplains, and medical providers are diligently supporting our Marines and Sailors during this time. We deeply appreciate all the thoughtful community messages we have received over the past several days.”

Both Lance Cpl. Gierke and Pfc. Riffle entered active duty service in March 2021, spending time at Parris Island before Camp Lejeune. They each earned the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism Service Medals, Marine Corps officials said to Fox 46, as they reported.

The crash occurred Wednesday when the 7-ton military vehicle attempted to merge from Highway 210 onto U.S. 17 going too fast, causing it to hit the median of U.S. 17 and overturn, ejecting its 17 passengers, State Highway Patrol told Fox News in a statement. 

Marine Corps Pfc. Zachary W. Riffle
(2nd Marine Logistics Group)

A second military vehicle following closely behind could not stop in time and hit at least one of the passengers, the State Highway Patrol added. 

The driver of the overturned vehicle, identified as 19-year-old Louis Barrera of Springfield, Tennessee, and the passengers are members of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. 

Barrera has been charged with one count of exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, a North Carolina Department of Public Safety spokesperson previously told Fox News Digital.

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