Soldiers’ remains received in dignified transfer at DAFB

Vice President Mike Pence places his hand on his heart as members of the Old Guard carry Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, of Columbus Indiana during a Dignified Transfer at the Dover Air Force Base on Friday. Hunter and Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, NC were both killed in Afghanistan during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel on Aug. 2. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The remains of two American soldiers arrived at Dover Air Force Base Friday afternoon.

The two soldiers, U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, and Spec. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, died Wednesday in the attack on a NATO convoy in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense said the attack was a suicide bombing near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Vice President Mike Pence was among the dignitaries on the flight line to observe the dignified transfer.

Chris Harris was a native of Jackson Springs, North Carolina. He enlisted in the Army in October 2013 and was in his first deployment, the Department of Defense said.

“Spc. Christopher Harris was an extraordinary young man and a phenomenal Paratrooper,” Army Colonel Toby Magsig said in a statement. “He regularly displayed the type of courage, discipline, and empathy that the Nation expects from its warriors.”

An online GoFundMe account has been set up for the widow of Spc. Harris, who is expecting the couple’s first child.

Sgt. Hunter, of Columbus, Indiana, was 32 days into his first deployment.

Mark Hunter said members of the Indiana National Guard informed him Wednesday night of his son’s death.

Jonathon Hunter, who grew up about 40 miles south of Indianapolis in the central Indiana community of Columbus, left July 1 on his first deployment and was providing security for the convoy that was attacked, his father said.

He joined the Army in 2014 and was a member of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Mark Hunter said his son was excited about his first deployment, but that he, as an Army veteran, was apprehensive.

He said his family has a history of military service that dates back to the Civil War.

“I’m just proud of him. He was a great soldier. He made (sergeant) in a little over three years, which is pretty rare, they tell me,” Mr. Hunter said.

Mr. Hunter told the Associated Press that he was traveling to Dover Air Force Base.

The military guidelines do not allow the media to interview or photograph family members at dignified transfer.

In addition to Vice President Pence, the ceremony was attended by Ryan McCarthy, acting secretary of the Army; Gen. James McConville, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; Dan Dailey, Sgt. Major of the Army; and Maj. Gen. Michael Kurilla, Commanding Gen. of the 82nd Airborne Division; Command Maj. Michael Green, 82nd Airborne; and Col. Dawn C. Lancaster, commander of the U.S. Air Force Mortuary Affairs, Dover Air Force Base.

 

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