Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Army Staff Sgt. Scott W. Brunkhorst

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Scott W. Brunkhorst, 25, of Fayetteville, N.C.

SSgt Brunkhorst was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died March 30, 2010 in the Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

FORT BRAGG (WTVD) -- An 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper was killed in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan last Tuesday, while his unit was conducting a dismounted patrol.

Staff Sgt. Scott W. Brunkhorst, a 25-year-old native of Fayetteville N.C., was killed in action when his dismounted patrol detonated an improvised explosive device in the Arghandab River Valley in southern Afghanistan.

The Army and his family says Sgt. Brunkhorst put the lives of his soldiers before his own, and took the brunt of the blast to protect his men.

"He loved his men and would do anything for them," Brunkhorst's wife Krystal Brunkhorst said.

Sgt. Brunkhorst's father says Brunkhorst followed him and his brother in military service. He was assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.

But Scott Brunkhorst's aunt and grandmother, who live in Perrysburg, will never forget their lovable, caring 25-year-old who they say originally enlisted to pay for college, but grew to love the comradarie.

SSG Brunkhorst spent two years with his relatives in New Jersey. Despite his mischievous side, they say he was a determined young man who left behind a wife and daughter.

"To me, he was very patriotic," said Marie Lohr, his grandmother. "The whole family says that. He was very caring and loving and if anything when this happened he would have been thinking of the other guys trying to take care of them. He was very close to use and we loved him very much. To the family we consider him a hero."

"I want them to realize a war is still going on and these young men are still out there dying," added Sandra Brunkhorst, the soldier's aunt. "People are going on as if everything's the same and everything but these young men are dying for them."

BRIDGEWATER — Scott Brunkhorst, a 2003 graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School and an Army weapons squad leader based at Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed in action in Afghanistan earlier this week.

As word of Brunkhorst's death spread Friday, members of both the Bridgewater government and educational communities reacted.

"It's emotionally devastating news,'' said Township Councilman Howard Norgalis. "I don't know the family, but my heart goes out to his family and friends. It's sad.''

"Obviously they (American soldiers in war zones) put their life on the line every day,'' said Patrick Scaglione, a former township council president and current Somerset County freeholder. "In this case, he had to pay the ultimate price.''

"It's such a tragedy,'' added Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education member Pat Breslin. "Obviously, a good many people within the community are really feeling this.''

Brunkhorst was a member of the football and track teams at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, according to his friend Jim Morgan, 22, who now lives in Branchburg.

"He was a great guy,'' said Morgan, who said Krystal Brunkhorst called him about the death.

"He was proud to be in the military,'' Morgan said, adding that his friend wanted to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Scott Brunkhorst joined the Army after graduating high school.

Jim Morgan remember how his friend "took me under his wing'' when he joined the track team and was running hurdles with Brunkhorst. Morgan was a sophomore. Brunkhorst was a senior.

Brunkhorst gave him tips on how to run hurdles and was "very supportive'' of all his friends, Morgan recalled.

Morgan last saw Brunkhorst when he was visiting Central Jersey with his wife and daughter.

"I remember telling him, 'See you soon, man,'" Morgan said.

Brunkhorst enlisted in the Army as an infantryman in August 2003. He attended one station unit training and Basic Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Ga., and upon completion of his training, reported to Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Brunkhorst was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment in April 2005. The unit was re-designated as 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment three months later.

He was then deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months with 2-508 PIR in February 2007. Brunkhorst was promoted to the rank of sergeant during the deployment.

Upon returning from the deployment, Brunkhorst attended Warriors Leaders Course and was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in October 2008. He deployed to Afghanistan for a second time with 2-508 PIR in August 2009.

Brunkhorst's military awards and decorations include the Army Commendation medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Basic Parachutist Badge.

He is survived by his wife Krystal, his daughter Kendall, his father and stepmother Richard and Linda Brunkhorst.

A memorial in his honor will be held in Afghanistan. SSGT Brunkhorst will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Army Staff Sgt. Scott W. Brunkhorst was killed in action on 3/30/10.

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