The Kiernan Family

USMC PFC W. Becket Kiernan

August 23, 1999 – February 5, 2018

Becket enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17.   After turning 18 on August 23,  2017, he shipped out to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island for boot camp.  After graduating boot camp, Becket was sent to Marine Corps base Twenty-Nine Palms, CA to start his training.  

While he awaited the start of his school, Becket began to feel sick.  His throat began to get swollen and he reported to sick call on a Friday.  He was given common over the counter medication and was told to stay in his quarters until the Monday.  His fellow Marine roommates were asked to bring him food and water but they failed him.  Supposedly they did not have enough money to buy him anything.  His condition worsened and by Sunday he was taken to the base hospital were the medical doctors could not treat him.  

Kiernan Family - Becket Kiernan

Unbeknownst to his mother who had been in regular contact with Becket, the US Navy medical staff made a decision to transfer Becket via ambulance to Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs.  Becket was placed in the ambulance and was driven one hour away by himself to Eisenhower Medical Center.  Late Sunday evening a civilian nurse from Eisenhower Medical Center called his mother and told her to get a flight as soon as possible because Becket was in grave condition and he was not going to make it.  Becket’s mom in complete shock was able to book a flight from the East Coast to Palm Springs.  Unfortunately, while in the air, Becket passed away.  He was by himself with no Marines escort or family by his side.  Becket died of a flesh eating bacterial infection. 

Becket’s death could have been prevented, but due to poor US Navy medical care and negligence Becket died a painful death and alone.  Poor Marine Corps leadership,  was also at fault, his chain of command failed to checked up on him.  Becket, had been left to the care of young, inexperience Marines.

Disgustingly, the Marine Corps Command Investigation Report, was poorly prepared and written. There are no first hand accounts or witness statements as to what happened to Becket.  His Commanding Officers and First Sergeant provided written statements which when compared to each other are identical with the same basic information, word for word.  The only difference between the written statements are the names.  All military medical records from Twenty -Nine Palms, have not been released due to military confidentiality and NCIS has never conducted an investigation into Becket’s death.  

Becket always put others before himself and wanted to be a U.S. Marine from the time he was very young. He joined the Young Marines at ten years old, and over the next seven years advanced through the ranks to achieve Sergeant Major of the New England Regiment.

He was an honors and AP student and took his responsibilities seriously. He took care of his Young Marines, his friends, his community, his sisters, and mother.   Becket loved the Marine Corps! Becket deserved better! 

If you served with Becket or were stationed at Marine Corps Base Twenty-Nine Palms (February 2018) and have any information regarding the death of Becket, please contact us.

While Becket was still in high school I tried to convince him to  continue with school and enlist through officer candidate school (OCS) as an officer. However, Becket said that he couldn’t be an effective leader if he didn’t walk in the shoes of those he was leading. So, in keeping with his character he insisted on enlisting as infantry and working his way up the ranks. 

Born in Wareham, he was a graduate of Old Rochester Regional High School where he was an Honors and AP Student. Since he was 10 years old, Becket always dreamed of being a United States Marine. He embodied those values of honor, courage, and commitment and it led him to become a Young Marine. 

He dedicated seven years where his selflessness, generosity, loyalty and character saw him achieve the rank of Sgt Maj of the New England Regiment. This esteemed rank among many,  made him the stepping stone where others wanted to emulate.

As a leader in the Young Marines, he was awarded (3) Unit Young Marine of the Year,  (1) Battalion Young Marine of the Year, the Young Marine Achievement Award, a Marine Corps League Commendation, and a Personal Commendation Award from the National Executive Director of the Young Marines Program. 

A unique, kindred soul, Becket was very funny and enjoyed playing practical jokes on his friends and family. He was always humble and kind, putting others before himself. He was an avid reader in military history and a brilliant writer at such a young age. 

He had an amazing smile and contagious laugh that made everyone around him better. He will  be greatly missed. Becket is survived by his mother and two sisters.

Notable News Articles

The Kiernan Family Military Legacy

Richard J. Drennan (Grandfather)

Served in Korean War Era

William McKinley Sr. (Great Grandfather)

Served during World War II

John Drennan
(Great Uncle)

Pilot in World War II

William McKinley Jr. (Great Uncle)

Served in Vietnam

Remembering Becket

Becket’s Tribute at the Massachusetts in Battleship Cove

As his final service project, Eagle Scout and Fall River Young Marine Austin Avelar, his father and New Bedford Troop 3 Scoutmaster Michael Avelar, and several fellow scouts renovated a room aboard the battleship. The room was previously home to 1940s-era computer equipment, said Battleship Cove Director of Collections Elizabeth York. Now, after more than 200 hours were spent restoring the space, it serves as safekeeping for historic military uniforms that have been donated to Battleship Cove. – Standard Times

In Memory of Becket

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