Officials, special guests to join family, friends for local soldier’s funeral

Local, state and national dignitaries will join Columbus residents, and friends and family members of U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter for the Columbus native’s funeral today.

The 23-year-old son of Mark C. Hunter of Columbus and Brian and Kimberly Thompson of Nashville, Indiana, was 32 days into his first deployment when he was killed Aug. 2 during an attack on a NATO convoy near the southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar.

Army Chaplain Clifford Pappe will preside over the 2 p.m. military funeral, which follows a four-hour public visitation, at the gymnasium inside Columbus East High School, from where Sgt. Hunter graduated in 2011.

The funeral is expected to last 30 to 40 minutes, with Pappe as the sole speaker, according to the Barkes, Weaver & Glick Funeral Home, which is coordinating arrangements.

Among the dignitaries who will be in attendance are Indiana Gov. Eric and Janet Holcomb, Columbus Mayor Jim and Pam Lienhoop, Bartholomew County Republican Party Chairwoman Barb Hackman and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, according to the funeral home.

Donnelly serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is ranking member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on the Airland and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Committee.

Holcomb ordered that flags in Bartholomew County be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset today to honor Sgt. Hunter.

Funeral guests will include two members of Hunter’s security detail who retrieved his body immediately after a suicide bomber killed him. The fallen soldier’s widow, Whitney Hunter, identified the pair as her husband’s deployment bunkmate, Casey Weafer, and squad leader Chris Brown. Two survivors who were in the same truck as Sgt. Hunter also are expected to attend, she said.

Family, dignitaries and special guests will be in reserved seating on the gym floor in a layout similar to the school’s annual commencement exercises, East officials said.

As with graduation exercises, bleachers will be pulled out for community members and others at the service, school officials said.

The service will include traditional military honors that include the folding of the flag and presentation of it to the widow, the playing of taps, and a 21-gun salute, Whitney Hunter said.

In addition, the posthumous medals that her husband earned will be presented during the ceremony, she said.

The public observances for Sgt. Hunter will conclude at the end of the service, funeral director Rory Glick said. Private inurnment will be at a later date.

Flags

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has ordered all U.S. flags to be flown at half-mast today from sunrise to sundown in honor and respect of Sgt. Jonathan Hunter and his ultimate sacrifice.

Paying respects

Visitation for U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the gymnasium at Columbus East High School, 230 S. Marr Road.

The 40-minute military funeral will begin at 2 p.m.

There will be no post-service burial.  Private inurnment will be at a later date.

Go Fund Me

A social media fund drive is underway to provide financial assistance for Whitney M. Hunter of Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter’s wife of just more than nine months.

As of Friday morning, $25,883 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.

Livefeed

Columbus East High School is working with the family of U.S. Armhy Sgt. Jonathon Hunter and the military to provide a livestream broadcast of his 2 p.m. funeral today.

The broadcast can be watched at facebook.com/cehs.media.

Officials are hoping to include the outdoor 21-gun salute that is planned after the services.

Holcomb directs flags to be flown at half-staff

Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb is directing flags in Bartholomew County to be flown at half-staff in honor of U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon M. Hunter, who was killed in action Aug. 2 while serving his country in Afghanistan. Flags should be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of his funeral, which is today.

Holcomb also asks businesses and residents in Bartholomew County to lower their flags to half-staff today to honor Hunter’s service and dedication to duty.

Visitation, funeral today at Columbus East

The public will have opportunities today to pay their respects to U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Visitation for Hunter will be in the Columbus East High School gymnasium, 230 S. Marr Road.

2 p.m.: Funeral service at East begins for Hunter with full military honors.

Livestream of funeral being made available

Columbus East High School is working with the family U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter and the military to provide a livestream broadcast of his funeral today.

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. and school officials hope to include the 21-gun salute that is planned after the services.

Social media fund drive continues for widow

A social media fund drive is underway to provide financial assistance for Whitney M. Hunter of Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter’s wife of just more than nine months.

As of Friday 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.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.