CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — The family of an Ohio Marine is grieving a tragic, sudden loss and told News 5 they are trying to find the positive in their pain.
For Sgt. Wolfgang Kyle Weninger’s family, the last seven days have brought incalculable grief.
“It’s certainly been a roller coaster,” Michelle Henry said. “You go through probably every emotion you can imagine from start to finish.”
Sgt. Weninger died tragically Tuesday, June 16 during a United States Army Airborne training exercise at Fort Benning near Columbus, GA.
His father, Ernst Weninger, described the disbelief Sgt. Weninger’s family is coping with following his death.
“We have not seen him since Christmas, so this idea that, as shocking as all of this is, there’s this surreal feeling that he’s just away,” Weninger said, “Like to say, I’m expecting him to walk through the door any day.”
Family members told News 5 Sgt. Weninger died from injuries he sustained when his parachute malfunctioned during a training exercise.
“The preliminary report was that the chute was partially deployed and then they literally only have a couple of seconds to try to correct that and then he hit the emergency chute, which did deploy,” Weninger said. “It’s supposed to stop you on a dime but there’s certainly not enough lift before the ground.”
The Kenston High School graduate had completed training for the United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command and was scheduled to graduate paratrooper training Friday, June 19.
“He was looking for, like all young people, a purpose in life,” Weninger said.
Sgt. Kyle Weninger’s first name, Wolfgang, became synonymous with his spirit during his time in the Armed Forces.
“He owned that name and then he got a big tattoo with a wolf and then that just became him,” Weninger said.
His mother is familiar with the perpetual fear of being a military parent but said she never anticipated her son would die in an accident on U.S. soil.
“I could not believe that this accident happened at Fort Benning, Georgia,” Henry said. “I don’t know why. I always thought he was always safe.”
In Sgt. Weninger’s passing, his family said they are clinging to cherished memories during the 28 years they spent with him.
“There is comfort in hearing from all of these people that not only are sorry for your loss, but they’re telling us how Kyle was a brother to them and impacted their lives,” Henry said.
Sgt. Weninger’s family is turning to shared stories, photos and home videos of him during a period of unfathomable mourning.
“Honor, pride,” Henry said, “Extremely proud of him and how many lives he touched.”
His father said Sgt. Weninger’s fearless personality truly came to life after being selected for MARSOC.
That particular division of the U.S. Marine Corps specializes in direct action, special reconnaissance and foreign internal defense.
“He lived as a Marine and he died as one,” Weninger said.
Born September 1, 1991, Sgt. Wolfgang Kyle Weninger is survived by both of his parents, Ernst Weninger and Michelle Henry, as well as three loving siblings: Drew, Milo and McKinley.
On Sunday, Governor Mike DeWine ordered Ohio flags to be flown at half-staff at all public buildings throughout Geauga County and the Ohio Statehouse until sunset following Sgt. Weninger’s funeral.
Sgt. Weninger’s family tells News 5 that date has not yet been finalized due to the pending investigation into the parachute accident.