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Staff Sgt. Scott W. Brunkhorst, 25, Fayetteville, North Carolina, died March 30, 2010, in the Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Staff Sgt. Brunkhorst was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Scott Brunkhorst with his daughter Kendall

Article appeared in "Florida Today" newspaper, April 14, 2010

Family says NJ soldier killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Apr 2, 2010 16:47:21 EDT

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — A New Jersey soldier has been killed in action in Afghanistan.

Family members say Sgt. Scott Brunkhorst, 25, who grew up in Bridgewater and was an Army weapons squad leader, died Monday.

The Department of Defense has not released details on his death.

Brunkhorst was a 2003 graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School, where he was a member of the football and track teams. He joined the Army shortly after graduation.

He was serving his second tour of duty in Afghanistan with a unit based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Brunkhorst was married and the father of a young daughter.

He is survived by his parents and three siblings, including a brother who is an Army sergeant stationed in Germany

Bridgewater-Raritan High School graduate killed in action in Afghanistan

By Stephen Stirling/For The Star-Ledger
April 02, 2010, 8:15PM

Scott Brunkhorst could have left the Army in August, when his five-year commitment ended. Instead, the Bridgewater-Raritan High School graduate re-enlisted, a decision that ultimately cost him his life.

Brunkhorst, 25, a weapon squadron leader and father of a young daughter, was killed in action in Afghanistan Monday while serving his second tour of duty, his mother said yesterday.

"He really was a patriot," said Jim Morgan, a high school friend from Branchburg. "He was a proud soldier. He died fighting for his country and protecting all of us so we don’t have to cower our heads in the face of terrorism."

The Department of Defense has not released details of Brunkhorst’s death, but two friends who said they have spoken with his widow said Brunkhorst was killed when he stepped on an improvised explosive device as he got out of his truck.
Brunkhorst is at least the 15th service member with ties to New Jersey to die in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. Nearly 100 others have died in Iraq since 2003.

Morgan said Brunkhorst’s wife, Krystal, left him a message during the week, saying she needed to speak with him immediately.

"At that point I knew just from the tone of the message," Morgan said. "It’s just crazy."

Brunkhorst, whose unit was based at Fort Bragg, N.C., joined the military in 2003, soon after he graduated from Bridgewater-Raritan High School. Born in Colorado and after moving to Fayetteville, N.C. as an infant, Brunkhorst moved to Bridgewater shortly before entering high school, where he played football and ran track. He then joined the military.
Friends said he was dedicated to serving his country, so when his five-year commitment with the Army ended last year, he re-enlisted. Yesterday, they remembered him as a selfless, fun-loving man and a loving father and husband.
"He always put us before himself, always. That was just him," said Brett Colavito of Branchburg, another high school friend. "He was like a brother to me and like a second son to my family. The whole time he was in the military, any time he’d get off duty he’d come up and see me."

Reached at her home in North Carolina, Linda Brunkhorst, the dead soldier’s mother, said she could not comment until the military had issued a statement.

Another friend, Chris Snook of Martinsville, said he saw Brunkhorst last summer before the soldier departed for Afghanistan.

"He was just a happy, happy guy. He loved his country. He loved his family," Snook said. "He was proud of what he did. He didn’t really get into detail about (his military service,) but he was definitely very proud."

Snook recalled with a smile a weekend two years ago when he and Colavito drove to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where Brunkhorst was stationed at the time, picked him up, then drove back to Seaside Heights.

"I remember rolling up right into the middle of the military base blaring music and there he was with his bags all ready to go," Snook said. "We drove like five hours all the way back down to the shore. It was just like we were in high school again. It was one of the best weekends of my life."

Morgan said Brunkhorst never forgot anyone who made an impact on his life.

"If he had an idea and he wanted to do something, he just did it. He was determined, so once he realized he wanted to go into the military he just went," Morgan said. "But he still came around and was always true to his friends."

"It’s been a tough couple of days, but he’s a hero."

In addition to his wife, mother and daughter, Kendall, Brunkhorst is also survived by his father Richard, brothers Adam and Richard, and a sister, Danyella. His brother Adam, a U.S. Army sergeant, is stationed in Germany, serving his second tour of duty.

Sounds of Arlington (seen at left)
a bugler plays during burial services for Army Staff Sgt. Scott W. Brunkhorst on Tuesday (April 13, 2010) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.  According to the Defense Department, Brunkhorst died March 30 in the Arghandab river valley, Afghanistan.  According to an Associated Press database, 30 Americans died in Afghanistan in March.
(courtesy Eileen Horan)

Temporary grave marker for SSgt Scott W. Brunkhorst at Plot 60, Grave 9151, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Permanent marker in place for Scott W. Brunkhorst at  Plot 60, Grave 9151
David McInturff)