Two Marines struck by lightning, one killed

MCAS CHERRY POINT, NC (WWAY) — A Marine stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River has died after he was struck by lightning last week.

Corporal Skyler James, 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.

Following the incident, they were transported to Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital where they were treated for serious injuries.

The other Marine was released, while James was transported to UNC Health Center for further treatment. Following several days of treatment and evaluation, Cpl. James was declared dead.

Officials say the Marines were exiting the flight line at the time of the incident as a “lightning within 5 miles” notification had been declared just prior.

As part of standard operating procedure 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.

2nd MAW considers the safety and health of our Marines and personnel to be a top priority.

“Cpl. Skyler James was a hardworking Marine full of work ethic, ability, and drive,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Pirrotta, commanding officer of VMM-261. “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. Corporal James will be sorely missed by the Raging Bulls. His family is in our thoughts and prayers.” James, of Sonoma, CA, joined the Marine Corps in March 2014 and was promoted to corporal in Oct 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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