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Soldiers with the 109th Transportation Company pay their respects to the late Sgt. Jonathan R. Howard on Monday at Benjamin Franklin Village Chapel in Mannheim, Germany. Howard died July 7 from wounds received during a motorcycle accident in Kentucky. The 109th Transportation Company returned to Mannheim from a year in Iraq on June 5.

Soldiers with the 109th Transportation Company pay their respects to the late Sgt. Jonathan R. Howard on Monday at Benjamin Franklin Village Chapel in Mannheim, Germany. Howard died July 7 from wounds received during a motorcycle accident in Kentucky. The 109th Transportation Company returned to Mannheim from a year in Iraq on June 5. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

MANNHEIM, Germany — Silence and dozens of soldiers filled Benjamin Franklin Village Chapel on Monday afternoon when 109th Transportation Company 1st Sgt. Charles Shank sounded the roll call for Sgt. Jonathan R. Howard.

Howard died July 7 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash July 5 in eastern Kentucky. Howard was at home on 30-day leave after returning June 5 from a yearlong deployment to Iraq.

A memorial ceremony took place Monday in Mannheim in honor of Howard.

Howard epitomized the seven Army values, said Capt. Scott Stephenson, 109th Transportation Company commander. “When I think about the seven Army values he’s who I think of,” Stephenson said.

The 30-year-old Howard had deployed twice to Iraq and was on leave when the crash occurred. Howard was traveling on a 2006 Kawasaki ZX-10 motorcycle when the driver of a Cadillac crossed the centerline and the two collided, according to Kentucky state police.

Howard, who was wearing a helmet, suffered severe injuries to his left leg and arm. Why the driver of the Cadillac crossed the center line is under investigation.

Instead of focusing on how he passed away, soldiers remembered the life Howard lived.

“Sergeant Howard is one the greatest friends you could possibly have,” said Spc. Jason Simpson, who served downrange with Howard in the 109th Transportation Company. “He’s a good leader. He’s a good listener. He’s the type of guy I could go to if I had any type of problem or just needed to have a one-on-one conversation.”

Stephenson and Howard would engage in friendly debates about trucks. Howard was a fan of low-riders, and Stephenson prefers 4-by-4 off-road trucks. The two would also quiz each other about Metallica. The two would throw out names of songs and see if they knew which Metallica album those songs were on.

Capt. Josh Nichols, Howard’s platoon leader, said Howard was one of the best noncommissioned officers in the company. Howard did things right the first time, every time, Nichols said.

Despite several officers urging him to become an officer, Howard chose to remain an NCO.

Those in attendance Monday also addressed Howard’s family. Howard was more than a friend to most of the soldiers in the 109th, he was a brother, Nichols said.

“To the Howard family, please know that all of us here share the grief for your loss,” Nichols said. “Most of us have held his life in our hands, and our lives have been in his hands.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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