Highland native among 7 Marines killed in Nevada training explosion
Marine Brig. Gen. Jim Lukeman addresses the media outside the gates of Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Seven Marines from the base were killed in a mortar accident in Nevada Monday night. (AP Photo/Allen Breed) By Brendan Marks
HIGHLAND, Ill. -- The southwestern Illinois community of Highland is mourning the death of a native who was among seven Marines killed during a training exercise in Nevada.
Aaron Ripperda’s aunt said the 26-year-old died Monday night during a mortar blast at a weapons depot.
Beverly Lesicko says her nephew was scheduled to come home in May and aspired to become a professional chef. She says he joined the Marines to explore the world.
Ripperda was a 2005 graduate of Highland High School, near St. Louis. Assistant principal Karen Gauen says he played football at a time she was teaching English.
She recalls Ripperda as a hard-working, respectful “can-do kid” who “definitely had the discipline for the military.”
The Associated Press could not immediately reach Lesicko Wednesday.