Patriot Guard Riders provide an escort

The Patriot Guard Riders, an Indiana group of motorcylists that provides an honor escort for fallen servicemen, had more than 200 riders participating in the procession honoring Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter Tuesday morning.

“We’ve done this in rain, hail, we’ve even done it in snow,” said Ron Coleman of Peru, who leads the group.  “We are here to show respect and honor to the family.”

Coleman said he has participated in hundreds of escorts since joining the organization when it was founded 11 years ago and couldn’t even guess the number of rides he has participated in.

Although the rain was threatening just prior to the procession, “once we roll, we’re going,” Coleman said.

Classmates honor their friend

Two classmates of Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter were in the public viewing area for the return of his remains to his hometown Tuesday morning. Kaitlin Stotts and Justin Perry, both of Columbus, graduated with Hunter in 2011 from Columbus East High School, and Stotts said she was a good friend of his.

“It’s been hard to hear about it,” she said. “You never expect it to happen so close to home,” she said of losing her friend. “Freedom isn’t free.”

Heritage Fund establishes Hunter scholarship
A scholarship fund in memory of Sgt. Jonathon Hunter has been established at the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. While details are still being worked out, the plan is to provide the scholarship to a deserving student at Columbus East High School who exemplifies Hunter’s characteristics and accomplishments.

Tax-deductible contributions may be mailed or dropped off at: Jonathon Michael Hunter Legacy Fund, Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, 538 Franklin St., Columbus, IN 47201

Online contributions may be made at heritagefundbc.org.

Livestream of funeral to be available

Columbus East High School is working with the family Sgt. Jonathon Hunter and the military to provide a livestream broadcast of his funeral Saturday. East officials said the family inquired about whether the livestream would be possible to allow family members who could not travel to Columbus to view the funeral, along with Hunter’s fellow servicemen in Afghanistan. East plans to livestream the funeral service at facebook.com/cehs.media/ beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday and school officials hope to include the 21-gun salute that is planned after services.
Social media fund drive for widow continues
A social media fund drive is underway to provide financial assistance for Whitney M. Hunter of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Sgt. Jonathon Hunter’s wife of just more than nine months.

As of Tuesday morning, nearly $26,000 toward a goal of $50,000 had been reached through donations by about 500 people. To participate, visit gofundme.com/support-for-sgt-jonathon-hunter.

More opportunities to pay respects
The public will have opportunities Friday and Saturday to pay their respects to Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter.
7 p.m. Friday: Hunter will be honored during the Columbus North/Columbus East football game at the John Stafford Athletic Complex in Clifty Creek Park. A moment of silence will be observed during the pre-game ceremony before Hunter’s father Mark participates in the coin toss.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday: Visitation for Hunter will be be held in the Columbus East High School gymnasium, 230 S. Marr Road.
2 p.m. Saturday: Funeral service at Columbus East begins for Hunter with full military honors.
Republic writers Mark Webber and Julie McClure contributed to this notebook.