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Funeral set for Hickory Marine killed in Nevada

The funeral for a Hickory Marine killed last week during a training exercise in Nevada will be held April 1.

Lance Cpl. Mason Vanderwork, 21, and six others died when a mortar exploded at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada.

Vanderwork joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from St. Stephens High School in 2010. During his two-and-a-half years as a Marine, he served overseas twice – once in Afghanistan and more recently in Kuwait.

He married his wife, Taylor, in June 2012 and the two lived in Jacksonville while Vanderwork was stationed at Camp LeJeune.

He was a part of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, which was in its final night of training late last Monday when a mortar shell accidentally blew up in its firing tube.

The seven who died ranged in age from 19 to 26. Seven others were injured, some severely, as a result of blunt force trauma from shrapnel.

In the days since Vanderwork’s death, family and friends have created a Facebook page in his memory, where they’ve posted pictures of him in uniform, hanging out with his friends and playing sports.

On Friday, friends held a memorial bonfire on a Hickory field where Vanderwork used to hang out and play football.

“He was a truly incredible person,” Taylor Vanderwork said. “When I first met Mason, I knew wanted to be with him.”

Taylor Vanderwork, 19, said she knew all of the Marines who lost their lives. Many of them had joined the Vanderworks for a party at their Jacksonville home the night before the group left for training in California and Nevada.

“Our Marines are wonderful, strong, courageous people,” she said. “I just want people to know that, and I miss all of them.”

Vanderwork’s memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. April 1 at the Bass-Smith Funeral Home in Hickory. Family members plan to receive friends for two hours before the service.

The Associated Press contributed

Steele: 704-358-5067 on Twitter: @steelecs
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