Heritage Fund honors memory of fallen soldier; Colts plan salute during game

Staff Reports

A scholarship has been established to honor a Columbus serviceman who was killed this year while serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.

The Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter Legacy Scholarship was created to honor the memory and celebrate the life of Hunter, who was described as a natural leader with a passion for giving back, according to the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, which announced the scholarship.

Hunter was killed Aug. 2 in an attack on a NATO convoy near the southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar. It was his first deployment in his 16-month military career.

He was the son of Mark Hunter of Columbus, and Kimberly and Brian Thompson, of Nashville, Indiana, and the husband of Whitney Hunter of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

On New Year’s Eve, the fallen serviceman will be honored and remembered when the Indianapolis Colts host the Houston Texans in a 1 p.m. game.

Four family members will be brought onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium during halftime, Mark Hunter said. As part of the honor during the Colts’ final home game, Jonathon Hunter’s image will be projected onto the stadium’s large video screens, he said.

It will be the same field where Jonathon Hunter, a former Columbus East football player, scored a touchdown during the 2011 PayBack Classic, his father said.

The community showed its appreciation for the 2011 East graduate as thousands lined a 4.5-mile route as his remains were transported Aug. 22 from Columbus Municipal Airport to a local funeral home. Four days later, about 600 people attended Hunter’s military funeral at Columbus East High School.

On Feb. 10, the Columbus East Alumni Association will honor Hunter by adding him to the high school’s Alumni Wall of Fame.

Through this scholarship, Hunter’s family, friends and supporters will preserve the 23-year-old’s memory by recognizing students who exhibit his leadership, strength of character and selflessness, according to the Heritage Fund.

The scholarship is open to graduating seniors from Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. high schools who plans to pursue a 2- or 4-year degree at an accredited post-secondary institution.

The Hunter scholarship amount has yet to be set, said Amy Laker, Heritage Fund scholarship manager.

Applicants must have a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, be active in athletics and/or music, be able to demonstrate academic excellence, leadership skills and service to the community. Financial need will be considered.

Preference will be given to Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students.

Application for the Hunter scholarship can be made through the Heritage Fund’s Combined Scholarship Application. This year, more than $750,000 was awarded in scholarships to Bartholomew County students through the Heritage Fund.

Deadline for the Hunter scholarship and all Heritage Fund scholarships is 4 p.m. Jan. 12.

Scholarship information

For information on the Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter Legacy Scholarship and other scholarships administered through the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, or to apply, visit heritagefundbc.org.