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3 Marines Found Dead Near Camp Lejeune

Three US Marines were found dead at a gas station in North Carolina Sunday and an investigation is underway as to the cause, The Messenger has learned.

The three —all Marine lance corporals — were found dead after law enforcement officials responded to the Speedway gas station in Hampstead, North Carolina, roughly 40 minutes from Camp Lejeune where the Marines were assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 2.

The Marines were found after deputies from the Pender County Sheriff’s Office responded to a missing persons call. One of the Marines in the car was the man who had been reported missing.

“There’s nothing to believe it to be foul play or anything,” Sgt. Chester Ward of the Pender County Sheriff’s Department told the local Port City Daily. “We’re waiting for an autopsy report.”

The Defense Department has not announced the deaths publicly. A U.S. official with knowledge of the incident told The Messenger that the Marines’ families have been notified by U.S. military casualty assistance officers.

Friends and family posted messages of shock and expressions of love on Facebook for the three Marines.


The three U.S. Marines who were found dead Sunday at a gas station in North Carolina have been identified as the investigation into the deaths continues.

The U.S. Marine Corps said in a statement that the victims were Tanner J. Kaltenberg, 19, of Madison, Wisconsin; Merax C. Dockery, 23, of Pottawatomie, Oklahoma; and Ivan R. Garcia, 23, of Naples, Florida.

The three Marine lance corporals stationed at Camp Lejeune were found nonresponsive in a privately owned car in Hampstead, N.C., at 9:05 a.m. Sunday, the Marine Corps said. They were pronounced dead the same day.

“My deepest sympathy and condolences are extended to the family, friends, and colleagues of Lance Cpl. Kaltenberg, Lance Cpl. Dockery and Lance Cpl. Garcia,” Brig. Gen. Michael E. McWilliams, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, said in a statement.

“Our focus is providing the necessary resources and support to those impacted by their tragic loss as they navigate this extremely difficult time.”

Sgt. Chester Ward of the Pender County Sheriff’s Department told the local Port City Daily that “there’s nothing to believe it to be foul play or anything” and his department is awaiting the autopsy reports.

The Marine Corps said that the “circumstances surrounding their deaths are currently under investigation” by the sheriff’s office, but did not provide more information.

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