HIGHLAND, Ill. (KMOX) — One of seven Marines killed in a mortar blast Monday night during a training exercise at a western Nevada weapons depot was from Highland, relatives said Wednesday.

Aaron J. Ripperda, 26, was among seven killed during a training exercise at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, according his aunt, Beverly Lesicko of Staunton. Ripperda grew up in Highland and graduated in 2005 from Highland High School.

The Department of Defense on Wednesday morning had not released identities of those killed in the accident. The Marines belonged to the Second Marine Division, an expeditionary combat unit based in Camp Lejeune, N.C. The blast reportedly occurred when a 60-millimeter mortar exploded. Details of the incident remained unclear Wednesday.

Ripperda was scheduled to come home in May and had aspired to become a professional chef, Lesicko said. Ripperda played football in high school. Lesicko said he was close to her son, Joseph Lesicko, who is in the Army.


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