Family left with questions after Marine killed in training exercise

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 2:57 AM CDT
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MURRAY COUNTY, Ga. (WRCB) - A Georgia family is mourning the loss of a Marine killed during a training exercise. The 24-year-old is survived by his wife, daughter and unborn child.

Jonothan Barnette, 24, grew up in Murray County, Georgia. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps four years ago.

“He decided that he wanted to go into the military, and it was one of the scariest days of my life, knowing that he was going. But he made us proud,” said Tara Wheat, Jonothan Barnette’s sister-in-law.

Jonothan Barnette, 24, joined the U.S. Marine Corps four years ago. He was killed during a...
Jonothan Barnette, 24, joined the U.S. Marine Corps four years ago. He was killed during a training exercise in early October, leaving behind his wife, daughter and unborn child.(Source: Family photos, WRCB via CNN)

Jonothan Barnette married Wheat’s sister, Savannah Barnette, earlier this year with a promise to adopt her 8-year-old daughter, Kinleigh. Savannah Barnette is pregnant with his child and just found out over the weekend she is having a little boy.

“I hadn’t had anybody in my whole life that loved me and showed me what love was like he did and loved my baby just like she was his,” Savannah Barnette said.

Jonothan Barnette was stationed in North Carolina, but earlier this month, he was on a training mission in California. Wheat says that Monday, the family was told that the 24-year-old was killed during a training exercise.

“They… let us know that there had been an incident and that he didn’t make it out in the training exercise during a dry fire exercise with no brass. There was an incident, an accident – we’re not sure. We won’t know until the investigation is complete,” Wheat said.

Documents from the Marines provided by Jonothan Barnette’s family state the 24-year-old was shot in the chest during a dry fire rehearsal training. For some reason, he was not wearing personal protective equipment at the time, leaving his family with more questions than answers.

“There’s an hour and 13 minutes that are unexplained to us, unexplained what happened, unexplained whether or not he had last words, unexplained if he was dead and they were trying to bring him back. So many questions run through our minds,” said Jonothan Barnette’s mother, Robin Hayes. “My kid was a human being. He was somebody. And to me, it just feels like the Marines are just saying, ‘He’s just another Marine.’”

While they wait for answers, the family is focusing on supporting each other and Jonothan Barnette’s unborn child. Savannah Barnette plans to name the baby Jonothan Franklin Barnette Jr. after his father.

“We plan on doing everything we can to make sure the baby knows him as well as he could have,” Savannah Barnette said.

Jonothan Barnette’s family is still waiting for his body to be released from the Marines. Once that happens, they will be able to finalize his funeral arrangements. He will be buried with full military honors.

A GoFundMe set up for the family has raised nearly $20,000.

Copyright 2021 WRCB via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.