Marine who died in military truck crash remembered by hometown community

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 5:49 PM EST
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PRESTON COUNTY, W.V. (WITN) - Friends and family are mourning the death of 18-year-old Zachary Riffle, less than a year after he entered active duty service.

Riffle was one of two Marines killed in a devastating military vehicle crash in Onslow County Wednesday. The other Marine was 19-year-old Jonathan Gierke, from Lawrenceville, Georgia.

WDTV reports Riffle was a Kingwood, WV native, and was beloved by many.

He was a multisport athlete at Preston High School, where he graduated early so he could enlist in the military.

Riffle’s wrestling coach, Bradley Reed, says he will be missed by everyone who knew him.

Reed adds that Riffle was an athlete and kid that you couldn’t help but love.

Soccer coach Josh Russell says he taught Riffle the teen’s junior year.

“[I] am a former Marine and he didn’t even tell me, I found out after the fact when he was gone... so yeah it kind of hits hard,” Russell says.

Russell adds that Riffle had a huge rock as a hall pass.

Reed says Riffle was a fighter, never giving up and always asking what he could improve on.

“He knew what we were talking about, he’d listen. He was a kid that you could give a hard time to, and he’d respond well to that,” Reed says.

Before Riffle graduated from Preston High, Reed says Riffle told him he was going to join the Marine Corps.

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