Oklahoma Marine Onboard Helicopter In Camp Lejeune Accident
CAMP LeJEUNE, North Carolina - Friends and family say an Oklahoma marine was injured Wednesday night in North Carolina during a training exercise at Camp Lejeune.
One marine died and 11 others were injured, including an Inola native, when a CH-53E helicopter made a hard landing.
According to family, 33-year-old Murray ‘Mac’ McNichol was the first to propel out of the chopper and is expected to be ok.
McNichol grew up in Inola, and those that knew him, like Inola Middle School principal Jeff Unrau, said they were shocked to hear the news.
"It just, it hit's home," he said. "He's Mac to us, we didn't know Murray, he was just Mac to us," Unrau said.
Unrau grew up with McNichol, and the principal said a lot of kids from the class of 1999 enlisted in light of 9/11 - McNichol being one of them.
Unrau is five years older and helped coach the marine when he played football, but Unrau’s brother graduated with McNichol.
"He was just a good kid. He was kind of your All-American boy - football, wrestler, country kid - just a good kid," he said.
McNichol is one of several former students from Inola serving our country.
Unrau said when the community heard about the accident, and were unsure of McNichol’s condition, it immediately brought up painful memories of another Inola native who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Travis Grigg, a classmate of McNichol, was killed in action in Iraq in 2005 when a bomb landed on his convoy.
Unrau and Grigg were close friends. He said it makes hearing about these kinds of incidents that much harder.
"Military to me has always been very special. I was never in the military, but Travis was one of my best friends. I was his pallbearer, one of his pallbearers, and so ever since November 15, 2005, when I got that call about Travis, it's always weighed on me," Unrau said.
The principal said this is a tight-knit community and that they will all be rooting for McNichol’s recovery.
Two other marines are still in the hospital, six others were treated and released while three more are still being evaluated.