Officials said the blast occurred around 10 p.m. at the Hawthorne Army Depot. Seven Marines were killed as a result and several others were injured when a mortar round unexpectedly exploded during a live-fire training exercise. Officials said that the Marines were members of a ground combat unit based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
WJAC-TV spoke with some of Martino’s friends and family.
Martino graduated from the DuBois Area High School in 2012. He played football and participated in track and field. In 2012, he won several races in District 9 meets.
“He talked about the Marines his whole life. It’s what he always wanted to do. He died a hero; that’s for sure,” said long-time friend, Adam Popson.
“He was serving citizens of the United States, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude,” said Dave Gralla, post commander at the VFW 813 in DuBois. Martino’s family said he was in training at the time of the blast. Soon after, he was going to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Friends hope Martino is remembered as a hero.
“He should be remembered as an idol. People should look up to him. I did. He helped me with a lot of tough problems in my life. He was just a great kid,” Popson said.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.