Tragedy has struck the Marines stationed at the Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina, with three servicemen found dead in their vehicle this Tuesday. The three victims, Lance Cpl. Tanner Kaltenberg, 19, Lance Cpl. Merax Dockery, 23, and Lance Cpl. Ivan Garcia, 23, were discovered in Pender County, approximately 40 minutes away from Camp Lejeune, by deputies with the local Sheriff’s Office.
The vehicle, a four-door sedan, was found at a Speedway gas station in Hampstead while investigating a missing persons call. After examining the scene, Sgt. Chester Ward of the Sheriff’s Office told local outlet Port City Daily there appeared to be no signs of foul play in the area. “We are waiting for an autopsy report,” Ward said, “but we have an idea of probably what happened.”
The Marine Corps published the identities of the victims and issued an official statement, expressing their sorrow at such a tragedy. “My deepest sympathy and condolences are extended to the family, friends, and colleagues of Lance Cpl. Kaltenberg, Lance Cpl. Dockery and Lance Cpl. Garcia,” said Brig. Gen. Michael E. McWilliams, commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
The three Marines had been assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 2, and McWilliams has urged the affected communities to provide them the necessary resources and support as they grieve in this difficult time.
The cause of death is still unknown pending a full autopsy report, and investigators are still determining the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
The deaths of the three Marines come as a blow to Camp Lejeune, where thousands of soldiers are stationed. Since the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, the base has been on lockdown with strict protocols in place, making such an event all the more devastating.
The deaths of the three servicemen are a heartbreaking reminder of the losses the military and their families endure for the sake of serving their country, even in an era of social unrest. In the days to come, Camp Lejeune will be mourning the loss of these honorable men, and honoring their lives and service to their country.