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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