Even though the Marines were from the other side of the country, locals still feel a strong sense of pride in the military because the town's history is so deeply tied to the armed forces.
The town calls itself "America's Patriotic Home" and is home to the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum, which displays hundreds of shells, munitions, battery guns and weapons dating to World War II. Red, white and blue sculptures made of former shells and bombs are on display in town. Storefronts carry names like Patriot's Plaza. The sign on a business Thursday carried the message, "Please Pray For Our Marines."
At the memorial Tuesday night, members of the women's Auxiliary of VFW 231 laid a wreath and floral arrangements beneath an American flag as dozens of Mineral County sheriff's deputies and firefighters who attended to the wounded the night before looked on.
"The evening of March 18, 2013, will forever be remembered as a moment of profound tragedy in Mineral County," District Attorney Sean Rowe told the memorial service. "You have given meaning to the phrase, 'America's Patriotic Home.'"
The identities of those killed won't be released until 24 hours after their families are notified, the military said.
However, the grandfather of a 21-year-old Marine from Ohio confirmed Wednesday that his grandson was among those killed.
Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor's fulfilled a nearly lifelong dream when he joined the military right after graduating from a southeastern Ohio high school in 2010, said his grandfather, Larry Stephens.
Stephens said his grandson had talked about being a Marine since he was about 5, watching the History Channel and studying the military. After joining, he worked with mortars and served tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait, and was preparing for another tour in Afghanistan.