Marine & FSU Grad Killed in Helicopter Crash

By: Eyewitness News; Mike Springer Email
By: Eyewitness News; Mike Springer Email

Captain Ben Cerniglia was the kind of student professors loved. He was smart, hard working and passionate about the Marine Corps.

"I just know we miss him and it's a great loss," says Yingmei Cheng an FSU professor.

Ben Cerniglia was one of seven marines killed in a helicopter crash last week (2-22-12). Cerniglia's helicopter collided with another one during a training exercise. And crashed near the Arizona-California boarder. But to those that knew Cerniglia, he was more than just a soldier. He was a father. A son. And a student. Who stood out among his peers.

"He was a very warm, intelligent and pleasant person," says Cheng.

Cheng is a finance professor at Florida State. She taught Cerniglia during his final semester there. She says she will always remember the inquisitive student who sometimes came to class in uniform.

"And when he asked me questions about the course materials, he also talked about how excited he was to be going back and fly the helicopter after his graduation"

Cerniglia graduated in 2007. He earned a dual degree in finance and economics. The day before graduation, Cerniglia joined the marines, where he was a pilot for more than four years.

"That's what I remember him for. Not because he was an 'A' student. But I think he would be an outstanding citizen and officer and serve a lot of people in this country," says Cheng.

Cerniglia is survived by his wife and two kids. A scholarship fund has been setup for them through his father's church in South Carolina. The cause of the crash that killed Cerniglia is under investigation.

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An FSU graduate and Marine Corps Captain is dead.

Ben Cerniglia died last week (2/22/12) when two helicopters collided near the Arizona-California boarder. Cerniglia and six other marines were killed in the crash. He is a 2007 graduate of Florida State University. He majored in Finance and Economics. A memorial service is schedule for Friday(3-2) at Camp Pendleton. Cerniglia's father and mother are also FSU graduates. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

FSU released this statement:

"FSU is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic loss. The university stands by the family as they mourn a fallen friend and alum"

-William Francis, director of FSU's veterans center


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  • by Elizabeth Votra Location: San Diego, CA on Mar 5, 2012 at 04:35 PM
    I know it's very difficult for reporters to ever get it *perfect* - however as an English major (also an FSU grad), I wish this reporter had done his homework. I found at least 8 errors in the brief story. As his girlfriend of 5 years, I hate seeing what might be the last published material describing my HERO go down in the history books incorrectly.
  • by CommonSense on Mar 1, 2012 at 03:47 AM
    SEMPER FI brother and God's speed. You will be missed.
  • by TallyTrashTalks2 Location: Tallahassee on Feb 29, 2012 at 07:50 PM
    My thank you seems such a minimal compliment for the ultimate price paid, for so many of those who protect us. My deepest sympathy to this family and friends with hopes you know the gratitude is in many hearts forever.
  • by clint Location: greenville sc on Feb 29, 2012 at 01:29 PM
    Thanks to each of you for your prayers and thoughts as our congregation mourns the tragic loss of Ben and the 6 other marines killed in the accident.
  • by Sarah Location: Florida on Feb 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM
    TAPS have been sounded and the day has come to an end. THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARINES. To the Family: thank you for allowing him to protect us doing this trying time. As a member 1972-1974) of this elite group of military Personnel, U S MARINES, I am proud to give him a salute for a job well done.
  • by Repubtallygirl Location: Crawfordville on Feb 29, 2012 at 12:13 PM
    My deepest condolences, and as a Marine Mom who son served with some of those killed at Camp Pendleton, my heart aches for you. My prayers are with his friends and family.
  • by Austin Location: Tallahassee on Feb 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM
    Ben left two children. You can contribute to their education fund by sending a check (with Cerniglia in notation) to Lutheran Church of Our Saviour /2600 Wade Hampton Blvd / Greenville SC, 29615. Thanks.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM
    It's real ashame. Thank you so much for your service and for fighting for the freedom most americans take for granted. Y'all are true heros. Rest in peace and may your family find peace knowing that you are highly respected for what you did.
  • by Tami on Feb 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM
    So sorry for your loss. God bless the family now and always. What a HERO!
  • by TJ Location: Tally on Feb 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM
    I want to say THANK YOU!!! My prayers go to his family, friends, everyone that knew this Hero. Semper Fi
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