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New River Marine struck by lightning dies


Corporal Skyler James

A New River Marine struck by lightning last week has died.

Cpl. , a tiltrotor mechanic assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, Marine Aircraft Group 26, and another Marine were struck by lightning while working on an MV-22 Osprey July 11 at New River, according to a release from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Cherry Point.

The Marines were transported to Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital where they were evaluated for serious injuries. The other Marine was released, while James was subsequently transported to UNC Health Center for further treatment. Following several days of treatment and evaluation, James was declared dead, according to the release.

The Marines were exiting the flight line at New River when struck, according to the release. A “lightning within 5 miles” notification had been declared just prior to the strike. As part of standard operating procedures at 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, squadrons receive regular weather updates for their area of operation and are required to remove personnel from flight line activity when lightning is within 5 miles or presents a significant risk, according to the release.

“Cpl.  was a hard working Marine full of work ethic, ability, and drive,” Lt. Col. Stephen Pirrotta, commanding officer of VMM-261, said in a statement. “He was quick to smile and ready to accept any maintenance challenge on the flight line with a demeanor that allowed for easy interaction between his peers and superiors, alike.

“This was a tragic accident. Cpl. James will be sorely missed by the Raging Bulls. His family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

James, of Sonoma, Calif., joined the Marine Corps in March 2014 and was promoted to corporal in October of 2016. His awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct medal; Sea Service Deployment ribbon; Global War on Terrorism Service medal; and National Defense Service medal.


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