Baumholder honors soldier with big heart killed in Iraq
BAUMHOLDER, Germany —
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,That saved a wretch like me.I once was lost but now am found,Was blind, but now, I see.”
The soul-stirring hymn was sung Monday as almost 400 people said goodbye to Cpl. Jon-Erik Loney at Baumholder’s Good Samaritan Chapel.
The 21-year-old Alabama native died Nov. 28 from injuries after a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle during a combat patrol in Hit, Iraq.
Loney was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment out of Baumholder, but he was attached to Task Force 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Friedberg, Germany.
Pfc. Matthew Stern first met Loney, who joined the Army in February 2005, in basic training. The two soldiers were battle buddies through basic training.
After basic, they were assigned to the same unit, platoon and section in Baumholder, where the soldiers remained roommates. When Stern and Loney were deployed to Iraq, they shared a room again.
“Loney and I were not related by blood, but he was just as close to me as if we were,” Stern said. “… We were brothers through thick and thin.”
One of the first things Capt. Christopher Kuzio noticed about Loney was that he was a big man who had trouble keeping up during runs. Kuzio had his doubts, but Loney proved him wrong.
“After watching him for a few months, I realized that he wasn’t overweight,” said Kuzio, who was Loney’s former company commander. “It was that his heart was so big that he required a larger carrying case than the rest of us.”
Loney’s loss highlights the fact that soldiers are serving together for a greater good, said Lt. Col. Daniel Walrath, 1-6 commander. “Today, we may feel many things as we mourn Corporal Loney’s loss — sadness for his family or even guilt that we did not do more ourselves,” he said. “Most of all, I feel proud to have been in the company of such an American hero.”