The two Marines who were killed after their tactical vehicle flipped over in North Carolina last Wednesday have been identified by the U.S. military’s 2nd Marine Logistics Group, to which they were both assigned.
Lance Corporal Jonathan Gierke, 19, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Private First Class Zachary Riffle, 18, of Kingwood, West Virginia, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which injured 17 other service members riding in the military truck,
The crash took place around 1pm at the intersection of US 17 and Highway 210 between Verona and Holly Ridge, about five miles from Camp Lejeune.
Louis Barrera was behind the wheel of the seven-ton truck carrying 19 fellow Marines, when he made a right turn onto US 17, lost control and overturned, causing the soldiers to be ejected.
Jonathan Gierke, 19, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Zachary Riffle, 18, of Kingwood, West Virginia, were identified as the two Marines killed when their military truck crashed in North Carolina
Another military vehicle behind the truck then hit one of the Marines as it could not stop in time.
Three injured Marines remain hospitalized and in stable condition, one at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina, and another at the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, according to a press release from the 2nd Marine Logistics Group
The 14 other injured Marines have since been discharged from medical care and have returned to their base.
Gierke and Riffle were both landing support specialists assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Lejeune, the second largest Marine base in the country behind California’s Camp Pendleton.
The two entered active duty in March 2021 and were both past recipients of the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol investigated last Wednesday’s fatal crash after a seven-ton truck military truck flipped over, killing two and injuring 17 US Marines
A US Marine pictured as police investigate the fatal crash on Wednesday, after a military vehicle driven by Louis Barrera, 19, crashed and killed two fellow Marines
Three injured Marines remain hospitalized and in stable condition following the tragedy in North Carolina, while 14 others have been discharged. Gierke (center) and Riffle (right) were above at their recruit training graduation last May at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina
‘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,’ Brigadier General Forrest C. Poole III, commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group, said in a press release.
‘Our commanders, chaplains, and medical providers are diligently supporting our Marines and Sailors during this time,’ he added. ‘We deeply appreciate all of the thoughtful community messages we have received over the past several days.’
Gierke and Riffle’s passing’s have spurred an outpouring of support for the two from their respective communities in Georgia and West Virginia.
‘He was probably one of the best mentors I had. He was the light in the dark for almost everybody in our group,’ Sabrina Arnett, a classmate of Gierke’s at Collins Hill High School, told Fox 5. Arnett said that Gierke mentored her when the two were a part of the school’s ROTC program.
‘He was my training officer, in my first year in the program,’ she said. ‘He taught me everything I really needed to know to be where I was when I graduated. Overall, he was an amazing person. He always made me smile even if I was upset.’
Pictured: the two military vehicles involved in Wednesday’s crash, which left two Marines dead and another 17 injured
Governor Brian Kemp, of Georgia, also showed support for Gierke on Twitter. ‘Marty, the girls, & I are saddened by the tragic loss of LCpl Gierke,’ he wrote in a post on Saturday.
‘His desire to serve & protect this country, especially at such a young age, represents the best of us. He & his family are in our hearts & prayers as we join in mourning his passing,’ Kemp added.
Barrera, 19, of Springfield, Tennessee, was charged with one count of exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, according to WCTI-12.
Sergeant Devin Rich, pictured, with the Highway Patrol said that the speed the vehicle was going at the time was still undetermined as of Wednesday night
Sergeant Devin Rich with the Highway Patrol said Barrera’s exact speed at the time was still undetermined as of Sunday night. The speed limit for US Highway 17 is 60mph.
‘We’re conducting a thorough investigation involving our reconstruction unit along with our district troopers,’ Rich said.
‘They’re in the process of doing the measurements needed to obtain a speed or approximate speed they were traveling.
‘We do know it was a little too fast for the right turn they were attempting to make.’
Two Marines were airlifted by a medical helicopter from the scene near in Jacksonville, NC.
The other 15 Marines were taken to Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune and were stable.
‘We are aware of a vehicle rollover in Jacksonville, North Carolina, involving service members with 2nd MLG,’ they tweeted on Wednesday.
The driver of that truck, Louis Barrera, 19, was charged with one count of exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle
The truck had made a right turn onto US 17 before it lost control and overturned
The military truck crashed at the intersection of US 17 and Highway 210 between Verona and Holly Ridge at around 1pm on Wednesday
‘We are working closely with @camp_lejeune and Onslow County officials to gather details regarding this incident. We will release more information as it becomes available.’
They later tweeted: ‘We can confirm multiple casualties as a result of this incident.’
Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper expressed his condolences on social media shortly after the fatal crash.
‘I send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the US Marines who lost their lives in a tragic accident today in Onslow County,’ Cooper posted on Facebook Wednesday.
‘We are so proud of our military heroes at Camp Lejeune and across North Carolina. Our prayers go out to them.’
Camp Lejeune confirmed that fire and emergency services and ambulances from surrounding Pender and Jones counties were also at the scene.
Traffic on US 17 reopened about four hours after the crash occurred.
DailyMail.com reached out to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group for comment.
Multiple first responders were called to the scene with some coming from surrounding counties
The soldiers had been assigned to the 2nd Marines Logistics Group, which is based at Camp Lejeune
Police investigate Wednesday’s fatal crash involving a military vehicle driven by 19-year-old Louis Barrera