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Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Morningstar

Died February 5, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

27, of San Antonio; assigned to the 562nd Engineer Company, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; killed Feb. 5 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Stryker engineer squad vehicle in Husayniyah, Iraq. Also killed was Sgt. Jeremiah J. Boehmer.

Two Fort Wainwright soldiers killed in Iraq

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska — Two Fort Wainwright soldiers died in an explosion while conducting operations in Iraq, Army officials said Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Morningstar, 27, and Spc. Jeremiah J. Boehmer were killed Sunday when an explosive device detonated near their Stryker squad engineer vehicle in Husayniyah, Iraq.

The men were part of a convoy traveling through the area, said Army spokesman Maj. Kirk Gohlke.

They were the only soldiers killed in the explosion, according to Gohlke. He knew of no other casualties.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 562nd Engineer Company, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Wainwright.

Boehmer, from Parkston, S.D., was a combat engineer. He joined the Army in November 2002 and was assigned to Fort Wainwright in April 2003, Gohlke said.

Morningstar, from San Antonio, also was a combat engineer. He joined the Army in April 1997 and was assigned to Fort Wainwright in August 2003.

Holly Morningstar said her son grew up playing with toy soldiers. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps in high school before joining the Army in November 2002.

“It was just a natural progression,” she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner by phone Tuesday from her home in San Antonio. “He loved serving.”

She said her son made friends easily and was strong-willed.

He had visited her in October while on two-week leave. His son and daughter came from Eagle River to join him. They visited museums, ate at their favorite restaurants and spent a day at a lake, she told the newspaper.

“It was the first time Chris had ever tried water-skiing,” she said. “He wasn’t successful.”

Morningstar re-enlisted shortly after arriving in Iraq this fall.

“I was worried,” she said. “I wondered why he would want to put himself in danger again.”

Jim Boehmer, of Parkston, said his son joined the Army after high school in November 2002.

“He needed some kind of adventure when he got out of high school and thought the Army was the way to go,” he told the newspaper.

The sergeant was at home on leave in early January.

“His visit was the right time for the bowl games,” Jim Boehmer said.

His son went to bowl game parties with friends, visited with his four siblings, grandparents and other friends and family.

He said he and his wife were impressed with how the Army affected their son.

“He said, The Army challenged me so much, maybe I’ll let them send me to college so I can become a teacher,” Jim Boemer said. “That just floored me and my wife. He was a little bit of a wild child, but he graduated into a beautiful man.”

— Associated Press

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