A Marine live-fire ammunition and explosives exercise has gone wrong in the Nevada high desert and is the second U.S. Marine training disaster in a month. A 60-millimeter mortar round became lodged in a tube and exploded, killing seven Marines. At least eight more injured soldiers were taken to Renown Medical Center in Reno, Nev. Those soldiers are in conditions that range from stable to serious, according to a March 19 article in the LA Times.
The Marines were training at Hawthorne Army Depot, a sprawling 230 square mile installation located about 140 miles southeast of Reno. Hawthorne Army Depot is a 230 square mile installation that offers extreme isolation and the best conditions for high desert training. The depot is believed to be the largest weapons and ammunition demilitarization depot in the world.
All were members of the II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp LeJeune, N.C. They were likely keeping their skills up for deployment to the high desert environment in Afghanistan.
This is the latest training disaster in a month for the Marines. According to a Feb. 28 KSEE 24 News report, seven marines were killed in a helicopter collision near the Arizona/California border. Those Marines were from Camp Pendleton, CA. They were carrying out a routine training exercise in an AH-1WCobra helicopter and a UH-1Y Huey helicopter when the two aircraft collided. The Marines were members of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in Miramar in Southern California.