Sgt. Wolfgang "Wolf" K. Weninger, a 28-year-old critical skills operator with the Marine Raider Training Center, was involved in a Tuesday parachute accident at Fort Benning, an official familiar with the incident told Military.com.
Weninger, from Auburn, Ohio, was completing the Army's Basic Airborne Course when he suffered fatal injuries, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command said in a Thursday statement. An investigation into the accident is underway.
Col. Travis Homiak, the commanding officer of Marine Raider Training Center, said Weninger was a smart, dedicated and dependable Marine with a witty sense of humor.
"Although he was just beginning his journey as a Marine Raider, his contributions to our legacy did not go unnoticed," Homiak said. "He lived the ethos that defines our Marine Raider culture, possessing unsurmountable determination, a deep sense of integrity, and an unconquerable spirit.
"... He could always be sure to get a few laughs, even in the most challenging of times," the colonel added. "We will continue to provide as much support as we can to Sgt. Weninger's family as they mourn the tragic and unexpected loss of their son, brother, and friend."
Weninger joined the Marine Corps in 2015 after graduating from Kenston High School. He was the boot camp honor graduate for Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina.
He went on to serve as an armory custodian with Combat Logistics Battalion 2 at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina until December 2018. Weninger reported to MARSOC in January 2019 and completed the grueling Individual Training Course all Raiders must complete in October of that year when he picked up the critical skills operator military occupational specialty.
The sergeant's ITC instructors said he was "exactly what we look for when training students to become Marine Raiders."
"He was a consistent top performer, a natural leader, he never complained, and was always there to pick up his team during challenging events," the Marines said in a statement. "He was an avid and talented hockey player, and could often be found on the ice, even after a grueling and exhausting week of training. We were proud and honored to have him join this formation and become a part of the Marine Raider legacy. We extend our sincere condolences to his family at this time."
Officials with Weninger's command said they're providing care and support to his family.
"We urge respect for their privacy as they grieve this tremendous loss," they added.