COLUMBUS, Ind (WISH) — A father spoke Thursday after learning his son was among two killed during a suicide bomb attack in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter graduated from Columbus East High School in 2011. News of his death spread quickly and has impacted not just his family, but the community as well.
“Got a call from my mother saying the National Guard was here,” Mark Hunter said.
Hunter was watching his other son’s basketball game. He didn’t immediately think the worst, thinking why would the National Guard call to deliver bad news when his son was in the Army. But, he quickly changed his mind.
“So I came home. I sat out in the garage like I always do. They pulled up and I seen the chaplain and I knew right then that something bad had happened,” he said.
They were there to deliver the news. His son had been killed. He was just 23 years old. According to the Pentagon, a suicide bomber attacked a NATO convoy near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. The attack is believed to be orchestrated by the Taliban.
Hunter had only been in Afghanistan for 30 days. It was his first overseas assignment.
“Only thing I can say is, he loved what he was doing. He wanted to be there. He wanted to fight and protect his country. That’s the biggest thing I can think of,” Hunter said.
That fight and passion didn’t begin and end there, however.
Bob Gaddis is the head football coach at Columbus East. He said, at an early age, Hunter learned the value of a team.
“He did whatever we asked him to do. He was a great teammate, a good leader by example, just a great contributor to our football program,” Gaddis said.
Outside of football, Hunter was popular, a good-looking kid with a great smile. He joined the military in 2014 and just this past October was married.
“It’s not the way you want to hear about your former students and team players. I think it’s a dose of reality,” Gaddis said.
A dose of reality that his father said, out of loyalty for his country, his son would not have traded.
“He was just there for everybody. He put himself second,” Hunter said.
Hunter is survived by his wife, his parents and three siblings. The Hunter family is working with Columbus East to plan a public memorial service.
Columbus East High School released the following statement after learning of Hunter’s passing:
The Columbus East High School Community is sad to hear of the passing of one of its own. We were made aware that Jonathon Michael Hunter was killed in military action in Afghanistan. Jonathon was a 2011 graduate of Columbus East High School, and a member of the football team. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hunter family, friends, the Columbus East community, and the BCSC community during this difficult time.
This is the second Columbus East graduate that has given his life for his country while serving in Afghanistan. In 2010 Jeremy McQueary was killed while conducting searches for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS). He was 27.
Columbus East High School & The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation are proud of the commitment and dedication of these two young men in service to their country.
The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation also released the following statement:
The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC) family is mourning the loss of one of our own. This morning, we confirmed that Jonathon Hunter, a 2011 graduate of Columbus East High School, was one of two United States soldiers killed in a suicide bombing attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hunter family, friends, and the BCSC community during this difficult time. We express our deep appreciation for all who have served, and continue to serve, in the military in order to protect the rights and freedoms we are blessed to have.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from Indiana, issued this statement:
I am saddened to hear that Columbus native, Jonathon Michael Hunter, has been killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. His service and sacrifice in defense of our country will never be forgotten. My prayers and condolences go to his family, friends, fellow soldiers, and the entire Columbus community.”
U.S. Sen. Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, issued this statement:
On behalf of every Hoosier and all Americans, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of U.S. Army SGT Jonathon Michael Hunter. We are immensely grateful for his service and ultimate sacrifice By all accounts, SGT Hunter was a man of notable kindness to his friends and loved ones, great athletic talent, and he selflessly and honorably served his country. I am saddened by the news of his passing, but proud of the man that he was.”