Columbus East grad killed in Afghanistan suicide bombing

Other soldier killed trained at Fort Bragg

Stars and Stripes is reporting the following: The wife of the second soldier, Spc. Chris Harris, announced her husband’s death on her Facebook page. “As the news spreads about the two soldiers killed in action yesterday in Afghanistan it is with a very heavy and broken heart that I confirm one of them was my husband Chris Harris,” wrote Britt Harris. “We had recently discovered I am in the very early weeks of pregnancy. Right now that is my main concern and I want to try and make sure everything continues to be healthy considering these crushing circumstances.”

Father said son’s military service a family tradition

After graduating from high school, Jonathon Hunter spent a year studying music at Indiana State University with dreams of becoming a recording producer, his father Mark Hunter of Columbus said.

His son had accepted an ROTC scholarship because he didn’t want to burden his family with paying for his college, Mark Hunter said.

However, Jonathon Hunter gave up on that ambition after more than a year at ISU and returned to Columbus, where he worked at both Renner Motors and the Bartholomew County Library before returning to college, Mark Hunter said.

But with military service established as a family tradition since the Civil War, Jonathon Hunter eventually decided to join the U.S. Army with plans to complete college after serving his country.

Jonathon Hunter was in the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airbone Division stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Teammates recall Hunter’s sense of humor

Columbus East football teammate and good friend Zane Yeager said Jonathon Hunter established himself as an caring person the moment they met during training in the summer of 2007.

As their friendship grew, Yeager came to appreciate Hunter for having an exceptional sense of humor and “a very contagious smile,” he said.

Coach remembers Hunter as ‘a very unselfish player’

Jonathon Hunter participated in football all four years at Columbus East High School, said Bob Gaddis, East varsity football coach.

“He was a nice young man, a very unselfish player. He did everything we asked him to do.”Gaddis said Hunter was willing to switch positions to help the team. Hunter came up through East’s ranks as a running back, but switched to defensive end, which was a help his senior year.

Gaddis said he received a text this morning about the news from the school, and school officials had a conference about it early this morning.

Gaddis said he spoke with the father, Mark Hunter, a bit this morning, and that Mark had posted some info on East’s football Facebook page to inform the East football family about what had happened and how much East football had meant to him.

“It’s pretty tough when you lose someone that young.”
Gaddis said Jonathon reached out to him when he was in boot camp and said he thought the Army was the right for for him.
“He was happy to serve his country.Unfortunately, he lost his life.”

Mom: ‘Proud of who he has become and what he did for our country’

U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, the son of Mark Hunter of Columbus and Kimberly and Brian Thompson of Brown County, died as a result of a suicide car bomb while providing security during his first deployment, his mother said.

News of her son’s death was delivered by members of the Indiana National Guard on Wednesday night, she said.

Hunter joined the Army on April 8, 2014. He was serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborn Division in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He earned his Expert Infantryman Badge late last year, and more recently had been promoted to sergeant, Kimberly Thompson said.

Hunter married Whitney Michelle Hunter on Oct. 15, 2016, and was deployed to Afghanistan about a month ago, on July 1.

His mother said she feels numb after learning of her son’s death, but at the same time is proud of his service.

“I’m very, very proud of who he has become and what he did for our country,” Kimberly Thompson said.

Columbus East graduate killed in Afghanistan

A 2011 Columbus East High School graduate, Jonathon Michael Hunter, was reported killed in military action in Afghanistan.

A statement from Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. states the school corporation’s thoughts and prayers go out to the Hunter family, friends, the Columbus East and the BCSC community.

In a statement, the school corporation said it has been confirmed that Hunter was one of two U.S. soldiers killed in a suicide bombing attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Here is an Associated Press report about the incident:

A suicide bombing attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday left two American service members dead, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed the casualties in the attack near Kandahar city.

There was no information on the number of troops wounded.

The Taliban quickly took responsibility for the attack, and a spokesman for the insurgents said the bombing allegedly killed 15 soldiers but the Taliban routinely exaggerate their gains and casualty figures.

In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban also said the attack destroyed two armored tanks. The insurgents’ spokesman for southern Afghanistan, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, said fighter Asadullah Kandahari was the “hero” who carried out the attack with a small pick-up truck packed with explosives.Kandahar province was the Taliban spiritual heartland and the headquarters of their leadership during the five-year rule of the Taliban, which ended with the U.S. invasion in 2001.

The service members were part of an international force referred to as the Train, Advise and Assist Command south, a reference to their location in the country. Five other countries besides the United States are stationed in the south __ Australia, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, said U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan Lt. Damien E. Horvath.

Ghulam Ali, who runs a mechanics shop near the attack site on the outskirts of the city of Kandahar, said the intensity of the blast knocked him out.

When he came to, he saw a military vehicle on fire on the road. He stepped out of his shop but a sudden burst of gunfire drove him back inside, he said. Then, helicopters arrived and he saw soldiers being taken away from the scene but could not determine the extent of their injuries.

The combined U.S. and NATO troop contingent currently in Afghanistan is about 13,500. The Trump administration is deciding whether to send about 4,000 or more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan in an attempt to stem Taliban gains.

The attack in southern Kandahar came as thousands of demonstrators in the western city of Herat transported 31 bodies, the victims of a horrific suicide attack on a Shiite mosque a day earlier, to the residence of the provincial governor.

Protesters were outraged at the audacity of Tuesday evening’s attack, barely 150 feet (50 meters) from a police station. The suicide bomber first sprayed gunfire at the private guards, who were protecting the mosque before running inside firing until his rifle jammed, said witnesses. He then detonated the explosives strapped to his body.

The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan took responsibility for the attack saying they had deployed two suicide bombers. Witnesses reported a second explosion 10 minutes after the first bomber blew himself up.

When the carnage ended 32 people were dead and 66 injured, said the provincial governor’s spokesman Jilani Farhad.

The IS said in a statement that the two men, whom it identified as Amir Qassim and Tayeb al-Kharasani, also used automatic rifles in the Shiite mosque before they detonated themselves.

The statement claimed that the attack killed nearly 50 and wounded more than 80.

The U.N. Security Council condemned “the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack” in Herat “in the strongest terms.” In a statement late Wednesday, council members underlined the need “to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.”

The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan on Monday had warned it would strike Shiites after taking credit for an attack on the Iraq Embassy in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul. The Sunni militant group considers Shiite Muslims as apostates.

Tuesday’s attack in Herat targeting Afghanistan’s minority Shiites, just a day after the Kabul attack, has frightened Shiites and put further pressure on the Afghan government that is increasingly seen to be impotent to stop the violence.

Also on Wednesday the Taliban ambushed and killed Jaghatu District Gov. Manzur Hussain and a passenger in his car, Ghazni provincial police chief Mohammad Mustafa Mayar said.

The Taliban have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks hitting district headquarters, government officials and Afghan National Security Forces with increasing frequency.

Hunter is the second East graduate who has given his life for his country while serving in Afghanistan, school officials said.

In 2010, Jeremy McQueary, 27, was killed while conducting searches for improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.