But instead of looking to the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan, that reminder comes from an Army depot in Nevada, where seven Marines died when a mortar shell exploded Monday during a routine training exercise.
Each of those Marines was in the prime of his life. The oldest was only 26 years old. Two weren’t old enough to legally drink. One was married to his 19-year-old wife. Two others had fiancés. Despite their youth, several had already served overseas deployments.
One of those engaged to be married, 19-year-old Pfc. Jose Martino, of Dubois, Pa., was a star athlete in high school and loved hunting. Serving in the Marines fulfilled a lifelong dream. “Since he was probably 8 years old he wanted to be a Marine,” his mother, Karen Perry, told The Associated Press. “That’s all he wanted to do.”
The end of the Iraq War and the drawdown in Afghanistan haven’t lessened the impact of the combined casualties (roughly 5,000 in combat and 6,500 overall) the United States has suffered there. But the loss of seven young men in Nevada training for a faraway battlefield saddens us deeply.