Lawrenceville Marine killed in North Carolina training accident

JACKSONVILLE, NC — A recent Collins Hill graduate was one of two Marines killed Tuesday in an accident near Jacksonville, North Carolina.

According to the Marine Corps, Lance Corporal Jonathan Gierke from Lawrenceville and Private First Class Zachary Riffle from West Virginia died when their tactical vehicle rolled over near the intersection of Highway 201 and U.S. Highway 17 outside of Jacksonville.

Several Marines were also injured in the crash and transported to nearby hospitals.

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Gierke was based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and was part of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group. He began with the Marines in March 2021 and was assigned to Camp Lejeune after completing his boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina. He had received medals for National Defense and the Global War on Terrorism.

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“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. “Our commanders, chaplains, and medical providers are diligently supporting our Marines and Sailors during this time. We deeply appreciate all of the thoughtful community messages we have received over the past several days.”

Master Sergeant Jeremy Reneau was Gierke’s former ROTC instructor at Collins Hill High School, where he recently graduated. Reneau said Gierke was an award-winning star cadet.

“He wasn’t a kid just coming into the program to just hang out. He was extremely involved and he loved the program,” Reneau said.

Gierke’s parents told Channel 2′s Tom Jones the Marines have been by their home and are helping coordinate bringing their son’s body back home. Meanwhile, Reneu said students are planning a memorial for Gierke at the school.

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Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) contributed information to this story.