A soldier salutes the memorial for Sgt. Bruce E. Horner, a Baumholder-based military policeman who was killed by small-arms fire June 1 in Iraq.

A soldier salutes the memorial for Sgt. Bruce E. Horner, a Baumholder-based military policeman who was killed by small-arms fire June 1 in Iraq. (John Vandiver / S&S)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Sgt. Bruce E. Horner’s voice boomed when he sang the Christian songs he loved.

Several years ago, at a base parking lot in Virginia, that powerful voice was like a magnet. Horner was sitting in his car belting out a song, similar to the ones being played Thursday as a procession of mourners filed into Smith Barracks Chapel.

Simon Kaiser, fairly new at the time to the Army, felt nervous about his pending deployment. Then he heard Horner’s voice.

“He invited me in to experience the music with him,” Kaiser said.

As the two men talked, a friendship quickly started to form. Kaiser told Horner that he wished the two were deploying together. Horner, who enlisted in the Army in 1984 and joined the Reserves in 1995, wasn’t among those heading for Germany. But that all changed the next day.

After their encounter, Horner volunteered to go. He sensed his new friend would need him.

“Buddy, I’m going with you to Germany,” Horner told a dumbstruck Kaiser.

Such uncommon selflessness was common for Horner, demonstrated again and again through the years, Kaiser said.

Horner, 43, was killed June 1 by small-arms fire on the streets of Baghdad. A year earlier, Horner elected to leave the Reserves and return to active duty with the 2nd platoon, 127th Military Police Company out of Baumholder.

“He never turned his back on anyone,” said Capt. Jennifer Miller, rear detachment commander for the 127th Military Police Company. “He embodied everything a soldier, a leader should.”

Friends described Horner as a man deeply committed to his wife, Erin, and the Christian faith they shared.

“Selfless, faithful and kind,” was how friends described Horner.

Horner was deployed to Iraq in November 2006 and served as a team leader in the Iskandariyah district. Horner was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

He always led from the front, Miller said.

During the memorial service, mourners reached out to embrace Horner’s wife, who often was the one doing the consoling as she took friends into her arms.

“Because of your strength, he was able to complete his mission,” Miller told Horner’s wife.

Eleven years after enlisting in the Army Reserves, Horner rejoined active duty in May 2006. In all, Horner served 18 years in the Army.

Choosing to return to active duty may seem unusual since Horner was at a stage in life when some people start thinking about slowing down, Kaiser noted. However, “There was no cruise control for Bruce.”

“When times got tough, Bruce didn’t break down,” Kaiser said. “He seemed to get stronger.”

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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