Eyewitness News has learned that a Westport native was among the seven Marines killed Monday during a training exercise in Nevada.
People that knew Lance Cpl. Robert Wolfe Muchnick Jr., a 2008 graduate of Staples High School in Westport, said he was killed after a 60-mm mortar exploded, killing seven and injuring several others near an ammunition facility.
Emergency responders rushed the injured Marines and sailors to the Regional Medical Center in Reno, NV.
The service members were based in Camp Lejune, NC, but had been training in the area for a month.
"The families of our Marines and sailors that died our hearts go out to you," said Gen. Jim Lukeman, of the Second Marine Division Command. "We appreciate your sacrifice and we'll do all we can to continue to support you."
The United States military has placed a blanket suspension on mortar rounds and tubes until the investigation is complete.
"I'm going to do whatever I can going forward to support the United States military and the family of those fallen Marines," said Sen. Harry Reid.
During his time at Staples High School, Muchnick, 23, played lacrosse and went to play for Eastern Connecticut State University.
His ECSU team will honor him by wearing his number 36 on the back of their helmets for the 2013 season. The coach of the team said he ordered the equipment Wednesday morning.
However, Muchnick, known as RJ, left college to enter the Marines. He was a weapons specialist, who was stationed at a base in North Carolina and preparing for his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. His second tour of duty was in Kuwait.
During his three years in the Marines, Muchnick earned two stars of valor for service in Afghanistan.
"He was such a happy kid, always biggest smile on his face, just adorable," said Nancy Eckl. "Just a great kid. He is just going to be so missed."
Eckl, who works at the Gold's Delicatessen in Westport, has known Muchnick since he was young.
"You think of him as a little kid coming in here with his family and he grows up to become a hero. It's amazing," Eckl said. "I'm proud that I know him."
Muchnick comes from a family with a long history of military service and he will be buried in Lennox, MA, next to his two uncles, who also died while serving in the armed forces.
"I can't imagine what his family is going through," Eckl said. "I'm just thinking about them all today."
A family friend told Eyewitness News that Muchnick had dreams of going to law school after this tour.
An autopsy will be conducted on Muchnick's body before being released to his family. The family is planning to have services on next Friday or Saturday.
Eyewitness News reached out to the Westport School District, but they didn't return our calls.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Friday, May 24 2013 11:41 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:41:15 GMT
Breaking News: Saginaw and Michigan State Police on are the scene of a quadruple shooting in Saginaw. Investigators confirm four people were shot at a pre-prom gathering in the parking lot of the FlorenceMore >
A 17 year old girl was shot and killed and three others wounded at a pre-prom gathering in Saginaw. The three others that were wounded were all female.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 11:46 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:46:21 GMT
A car crash has blocked the northbound lanes of M-13 in Bay County. Bay County central dispatch said the crash happened around 7:30 a.m. Friday just north of the Kawkawlin River Road and Russel Road. DriversMore >
The northbound lanes of M-13 have been reopened following a two-car crash in Bay County.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:04 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:04:40 GMT
MISSOURI CITY, TX (KPRC/CNN) - When a pregnant teacher in Texas collapsed, her coworkers rushed to help. The woman technically died, gave birth, and then was brought back to life. Erica Nigrelli, an EnglishMore >
A pregnant woman's heart stopped, and doctors performed an emergency c-section to rescue the baby and save the woman.More >
ObitMichigan.com is dedicated to delivering immediate, up-to-date information on obituaries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to families and friends in Mid-Michigan. Death notices are displayed during theMore >
ObitMichigan.com is dedicated to delivering immediate, up-to-date information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to families and friends who have lost loved ones.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 4:38 AM EDT2013-05-24 08:38:10 GMT
(RNN) - A bridge in Washington has collapsed and at least two cars are in the water, according to KING 5 TV out of Seattle. The bridge is part of Interstate 5. There is no word on injuries. Copyright 2013More >
A photo from the scene showed a man sitting on top of his car, which was partially submerged.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:03 AM EDT2013-05-24 11:03:00 GMT
Michigan's local governments would have the option to put cameras at intersections to spot drivers running red lights under proposed legislation in the state House. A measure recently introduced by RepublicanMore >
Michigan's local governments would have the option to put cameras at intersections to spot drivers running red lights under proposed legislation in the state House.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:37 AM EDT2013-05-24 11:37:39 GMT
Mosquitoes are out in full force already this year, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) is offering consumers mosquito mitigation tips. More >
Mosquitoes are out in full force already this year, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) is offering consumers mosquito mitigation tips and reminding them to exerciseMore >
Friday, May 24 2013 10:25 AM EDT2013-05-24 14:25:22 GMT
A two-car crash between Bridgeport and Frankenmuth has resulted in the closure of Junction Road. The crash happened around 1 p.m. on Wednesday on Junction, between Reimer and Dixie Highway. BridgeportMore >
A two-car crash between Bridgeport and Frankenmuth has left two people dead and temporary resulted in the closure of Junction Road. More >