A Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Marine died in a Thursday training accident at Marine Corps Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, the Marine Corps has confirmed.

Twenty-year-old Lance Cpl. Jackson Forringer, of Chesnee, South Carolina, was apparently killed by an inadvertent gun discharge while he was with other Marines in the back of a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, or 7-ton truck, according to a Marine veteran who used to serve with him, Trey Smith-Tatham.

His death in “active-duty training” was confirmed by a short obituary published Monday by his parents, Todd and Andrea Forringer.

“He never met a stranger and was one of the humblest, kind-spirited individuals you could meet, the obituary reads. “He loved to give back and help others.”

Messages left for Andrea Forringer via voicemail and Facebook did not receive an immediate response.

The Marine Corps, first queried about the incident on Sunday, did not confirm it until Tuesday.

In a short statement, 2nd Lt. Olivia Giarrizzo, a 2nd Marine Regiment spokeswoman, said a Marine with the regiment had died “died while conducting training during Integrated Training Exercise 3-23,” adding that Naval Criminal Investigative Service was investigating the matter.

The Marine, whom she did not identify, was pronounced deceased at the site, she said, declining to provide any additional information due to the ongoing investigation.

NCIS did not immediately respond to a query asking for more information.

Smith-Tatham, 21, said Forringer was an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, who had arrived with his unit at Twenetynine Palms, California, for predeployment training in late March.

Smith-Tatham, a former mortarman who said he’d been discharged for drug use in December 2022 following another training death ― that of his close friend Pfc. Zachary Riffle in a 2022 7-ton rollover ― said he stayed in touch daily with the Marines of his former unit.

Prior to the accident, Smith-Tatham said, Marines from Forringer’s platoon had been ordered into the back of a 7-ton.

While the full chain of events isn’t clear, he said Marines had told him they’d been told to set their service rifles at condition one, meaning with a loaded magazine and a round in the chamber.

It’s not clear how Forringer was allegedly fatally shot, but Smith-Tatham said he believes someone in the vehicle, which was not moving at the time, had their weapon safety off.

The Forringers had been featured in a local news story in 2021 that described how they’d celebrated the formal adoption of Jackson Forringer, a longtime foster child who’d come to live with them in 2015, just before his 18th birthday.

“Jackson was just part of the family from Day One,” Todd Forringer told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal at the time.

Smith-Tatham said Jackson Forringer was a friendly and positive person who had been a source of support after Riffle’s death by inviting Smith-Tatham to join him at the gym for workouts.

“He was just a really good dude,” Smith-Tatham said.

He’s in disbelief to have lost yet another close Marine friend to a noncombat incident in the space of just over a year.

Forringer’s death, which comes just weeks after three Lejeune Marines were injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident at Twentynine Palms, California, underscores concerns about training safety exacerbated by recent incidents.

Earlier in April, the Marine driver of the vehicle in the rollover that killed Riffle was acquitted on charges including manslaughter and negligent homicide.

Family members of Marines killed and hurt in the rollover had told Marine Corps Times they believed unit leaders needed to be held responsible for the decisions that led to an inexperienced young driver making the trip.

“It’s hard to be this age and lose as many friends as we have, when we all joined when we were, like, 19 years old,” Smith-Tatham said. “We shouldn’t be losing friends this young without any clarity or reason behind it.”

Hope Hodge Seck is an award-winning investigative and enterprise reporter covering the U.S. military and national defense. The former managing editor of Military.com, her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Politico Magazine, USA Today and Popular Mechanics.

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