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Army Spc. Mark J. Downer

Died August 5, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

23, of Warner Robins, Ga.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Aug. 5 in Sangsar, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket-propelled grenade.

‘He always did what was best for others’

The Associated Press

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Mourners packed a church here Aug. 13 as a 23-year-old soldier killed in Afghanistan was mourned and remembered by family and friends in his hometown.

More than 200 people attended the funeral service for Army Spc. Mark J. Downer, a combat medic who died Aug. 5 in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Kandahar province.

“He always did what was best for others,” Downer’s aunt, Sandra Downer, said during the service. “The profession he chose — to be a medic — was a dangerous one, and he’s a very intelligent young man, so he knew the danger that would befall him, but he did it anyway. He strived to do his best.”

Downer joined the Army in 2009, according to the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

People lined the streets a day before the funeral as police escorted the hearse carrying Downer’s casket after it arrived in Warner Robins.

During the funeral, the soldier’s father, Garfield Downer, was presented with two medals — the Purple Heart and Bronze Star — awarded to his fallen son.

Family and friends remembered Downer as quiet. He graduated in 2005 from Northside High School, where he played football and ran track.

A former classmate, Courtney Chaplin, described Downer as funny, loving and selfless.

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