Friday, January 06, 2012

Army Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind.

Spc. Leonhardt was assigned to 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard, Indianapolis, Ind.; died Jan. 6, 2012 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr. and Spc. Christopher A. Patterson.

Spc. Leonhardt was in a second vehicle that turned back to help the vehicle that exploded; this second vehicle hit a roadside bomb which killed him.

Spc Leonhardt, the sixth of eight children, graduated from Hammond Baptist High School in 2008, where he played on the bastketball team.

After graduating from high school, Spc Leonhardt followed his brothers into the military. He was the youngest of four brothers to fight in the Middle East. His three brothers returned safely from fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Father, Robert, said his son Brian knew he was risking his life, but he still wanted to serve his country.

Older brother, Chuck, said, “He had so much more to give; he was an amazing person,” Chuck said. “He just had so much more to do. Not enough people knew him.”

“I still don’t want to believe it,” said younger sister, Jackie.

Family says Leonhardt wanted to become a police officer when he got out of the military.

"This is really hard to comprehend, that my goofy older brother I've been really good friends with my whole life is gone. Still sinking in," said Trevor.

Spc Leonhardt was married this past September, two months before deploying. The family only learned of Brian’s wedding to Dianne after they received the news about Brian’s death.

The couple became engaged in July 2010 and had planned a big wedding when Brian was to return.

Older brother, Randy, said as members of the military, the brothers have experienced loss before. Some of the men with whom they trained and served did not return. He said although you call the men in your unit “brother” and your experiences create a bond, the loss of a real family member is different.

“It’s one thing when it’s your buddies; it’s another thing when it’s your brother,” Randy said.

Spc Leonhardt's awards and decorations include:

Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device,
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Medal
NATO Medal
Combat Action Badge

Spc Leonhardt was laid to rest on January 18, in Memory Lane Memorial Park, Schererville, IN.

Spc Leonhardt is survived by mother, Marie, father, Robert; wife, Dianne; siblings, Chuck, Randall, Robert, A.J., Theresa, Jackie, and Trevor.

Army Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt was killed in action on 01/06/12.

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