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Army Staff Sgt. Jason E. Burkholder

Died February 8, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

27, of Elida, Ohio; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Illinois National Guard, Marion, Ill.; died Feb. 8 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Army 1st Lt. Jared W. Southworth.

Explosion kills former Ohioan in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

ELIDA, Ohio — A soldier who grew up in Ohio has died following an explosion in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense says 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Jason Burkholder who went to high school in Elida was killed Sunday.

He’s the third soldier from that small town near Lima to die in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Burkholder was a former Marine who was on his second deployment. He was with the Army National Guard and had been living in Illinois.

The government said Tuesday that Burkholder and another solider from Illinois were killed when a bomb exploded in Kabul. An Afghan police official and a civilian also died.

The two soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment of Marion, Ill.

Soldier married before deployment

The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Military officials say a central Illinois soldier killed this week in Afghanistan had married and moved to a new town during a leave before his deployment, causing them to misidentify his home town.

The Illinois Army National Guard said Wednesday that Staff Sgt. Jason Burkholder was a former Champaign resident who was on his second deployment. Officials say he had moved to the western Illinois community of Marshall shortly before his return to Afghanistan.

Burkholder, 27, and 1st Lt. Jared Southworth of Oakland were killed Sunday by a bomb, along with an Afghan police official and a civilian. The incident remains under investigation.

Southworth and Burkholder were assigned to Headquarters Co., 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry, of Marion, Ill.

Staff sergeant ‘enjoyed life as much as anybody possible could’

The Associated Press

While serving in Iraq, Sgt. Derek Hahn came to know Jason E. Burkholder as a person who could always make any situation seem better or brighter.

“You could be mad at the world and in two minutes he’d have you laughing and having a good time,” Hahn said.

Burkholder, 27, of Elida, Ohio, was killed Feb. 8 in Kabul of wounds from an improvised explosive device. He was a 2000 high school graduate and was assigned to Marion, Ill.

He also served in the Marine Corps from 2000 until 2004. In all, Burkholder served three combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and two non-combat missions, according to friends who served with him.

“He enjoyed life as much as anybody possibly could,” Spc. Dylan Devitte said. “Nothing will be the same without him.”

Burkholder was a loyal friend with an infectious smile and an enthusiastic personality, his friends said. “He always had your back in any situation,” said Hahn. “You knew he was there for you.”

Burkholder loved serving his country and being a soldier, said his widow, Amanda. “He wouldn’t have chosen any other way,” she said.

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