Rochester Marine dies of flesh-eating bacterial disease

Feb 12, 2018

An 18-year-old Marine from Rochester passed away on Feb. 5, after contracting an aggressive bacterial infection.

Becket Kiernan, who graduated from Old Rochester Regional High School in 2017, died as a result of necrotizing fasciitis.

During school, Kiernan had served for seven years in the Young Marines. He achieved the rank of Sgt. Major of the New England Regiment, and was awarded his unit's Young Marine of the Year, as well as Battalion Young Marine of the Year. Kiernan was also awarded the Young Marine Achievement Award, a Marine Corps League Commendation, and a Personal Commendation Award from National Executive Director of the Young Marines Program.

He was also a member of the school's chapter of the National Honor Society, and took several Advanced Placement courses. "From the moment [Kiernan] stepped on campus, he was revered and respected by students and teaching staff alike," Old Rochester Regional High School Principal Michael Devoll said. "We are all saddened by his passing."

Kiernan himself had great plans. "Do something that, when you look back on life, you will feel fulfilled. Don’t chase money, do something that makes you happy, and don’t stop working until you get there," he wrote in one edition of the school's newspaper.

Devoll said the words were "great advice from a great young man."

After leaving school, Kiernan attended boot camp, and officially became a Marine on December 21, 2017. He was serving at 29 Palms Marine Corps Base in San Bernardino, California, as part of the 3rd Battalion, India Company.

"All Becket ever wanted since he was young was to be a Marine and to help people and we are so proud of him," his mother Lynda Kiernan posted on social media. "There are no words yet created to express how my heart is broken...He touched so many people through his leadership, generosity, humor, intelligence, character, and brilliant spirit."

Necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial infection, enters the body through an open wound, often a cut or puncture. The bacteria kills off soft tissue in the body, and is often deadly if not treated in time. In Kiernan's case, the bacterial infection was originally identified as the flu.

Kiernan graduated from Old Rochester as a member of the National Honor Society. At the school's 2017 Senior Superlative Gala, he was awarded, "Most Likely to Have in iTunes Hit."

Kiernan was remembered at the 2018 edition of the awards ceremony. Before the award he had won was handed out again, this year's senior class and student government asked for a moment of remembrance for him.

Kiernan's wake will be held on Thursday, Feb. 15, from 2-8 p.m. at the Saunders-Dwyer Funeral Home on Route 6 in Mattapoisett.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, Feb. 16 at 9:30 a.m., at St. Anthony's Church in Mattapoisett. Following the service, Kiernan will be buried with full military honors at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.

A reception will follow at the Trowbridge Tavern in Bourne.