Indiana National Guard soldier dies at Fort Hood

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Staff and contributed reports

An Indiana National Guard soldier from Fort Wayne died early Saturday at Fort Hood, Texas, as the 38th Sustainment Brigade of Kokomo prepared to deploy to the Middle East.

Sgt. 1st Class Mark Boner, 43, of Fort Wayne, Indiana served as an automated logistical specialist with the brigade. The cause of his death is under investigation and no further details are available at this time, the National Guard said in a statement.

Boner previously deployed to Iraq in 2009. Awards include the Combat Action Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and two Army Commendation Medals. Boner was a father and grandfather.

In a Dec. 31, 2009, “Fans in the Stands” interview for Fort Wayne Cable Access Television, Boner discussed how he had raised the Komets flag in Iraq during a deployment the preview year. He said he still had that flag, in the basement of his Fort Wayne home.

He told of listening to Komets games while deployed in Iraq. “I was able to listen to it on my computer,” he told interviewer Wendy Bartle. “I had to get up at 3 a.m., and the next thing I knew it was 6:30 a.m. and I had to go to work but I was a happy guy that day because they ha won the championship.

“I had my eyes closed and imagined I was here.”

Boner remained active in Komets Kare, which gathers donations of nonperishable goods for veterans families.

“For those who knew and worked with Sgt. 1st Class Boner, he was respected and admired for his great love for his country and family,” said Col. Kimberly Martindale, commander of the 38th Sustainment Brigade. “He was an inspiration to us all, always doing something for someone else and never taking credit for it. My deepest sympathy for his family at this sad and difficult time.”

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb, who had been in Kokomo on Jan. 2 on occasion of the 250-soldier brigade’s deployment, issued a statement offering condolences to Boner’s family and friends. “Throughout his military career, Sgt. 1st Class Boner was recognized for his dedication to duty, love for family, and selfless service to his country. Words cannot express the depth of sorrow I feel for his family, especially his children and grandchildren. Hoosiers around the state join me in honoring his service and contributions to our community and our country,” Holcomb said.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne issued this statement: “It is with a heavy heart that I offer my most sincere sympathy to the family and loved ones of Sgt. 1st Class Mark Boner. I know Hoosiers in our community and state are grateful to him for his sacrifice and service, and I ask that they join me in offering thoughts and prayers of peace for his family. His service to our country will not be forgotten.”