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Another local soldier's remains coming home

The body of the second local soldier to die in Afghanistan in less than a month is on its way back to the area. Army Sgt. Marvin Ray Calhoun Jr., 23, of Elkhart, died Tuesday in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan. According to the Associated Press, the crash happened in the Zabul province of southern Afghanistan.

Posted on Sept. 24, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART -- The body of the second local soldier to die in Afghanistan in less than a month is on its way back to the area.

Army Sgt. Marvin Ray Calhoun Jr., 23, of Elkhart, died Tuesday in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan. According to the Associated Press, the crash happened in the Zabul province of southern Afghanistan.

Army officials confirmed Wednesday that Calhoun was among the nine troops killed in the crash. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Calhoun, the son of Marvin Calhoun Sr. and Shirin Reum, attended Central High School and the Tipton Street LIFE Center. He was married and had a 2-year-old daughter.

"He loved his family," said his uncle, Tommy Calhoun. "He was a very respectful young man."

Tommy Calhoun added that Marvin Calhoun Jr.'s parents are expected to return to the area tonight after traveling to Delaware to meet Calhoun's remains Wednesday.

"It's just a shame this happened," Tommy Calhoun said. "It's a war I don't think is ever going to end."

Calhoun said the family is still just understanding what happened.

"I think right now everyone is just in shock," he said. "I'm sure we're going to make it through. We will."

Lisa Miller, an English teacher at the LIFE Center, didn't know about Calhoun's service as a solider until she learned of his death. But his patriotism didn't surprise her.

Calhoun was a part of Miller's English class for several months in the spring of 2005. Despite his brief time in the class, he made an impression with Miller, who described him as a leader in the classroom.

"He was a take-charge kind of person," she said. "If someone needed help he would jump right in there and help somebody."

Miller fondly remembers Calhoun as a class clown. He always looked for ways to make people laugh and constantly had a smile on his face.

His smile is what Miller sees when she pictures Calhoun seated at his desk, and his smile was the first thing she thought of Wednesday night when news broke that he had been killed.

"As soon as I saw his face on the news last night I knew instantly," she said. "It hit me like a ton of bricks."

Calhoun is the second Elkhart soldier to die in Afghanistan within a month.

Army Spc. Justin Shoecraft died Aug. 24 when the tank he was driving hit a roadside bomb near Karakak, Afghanistan. He was stationed with the U.S. Army 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

Truth reporters Marlys Weaver and Emily Monacelli contributed to this story.

CASUALTIES OF WAR

(The original list did not include Staff Sgt. James P. Snyder of Nappanee. The Elkhart Truth/etruth.com regrets the error.)

The death of Sgt. Marvin R. Calhoun Jr. is the ninth death of a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan from Elkhart County since the start of the wars.

Elkhart has the third-most deaths in Indiana, along with Kokomo, at six. Indianapolis has nine; Fort Wayne, seven; and Evansville, five. Goshen has suffered two losses of soldiers.

Other local soldiers who have died are:

* Sgt. 1st Class Craig A. Boling

* Cpl. Aaron Seal

* Spc. Jeffrey W. Corban

* Pfc. David A. Wilkey Jr.

* Spc. Justin B. Shoecraft

* Staff Sgt. James P. Snyder

* Staff Sgt. Travis K. Hunsberger

* Staff Sgt. Marvin L. Trost III

BY THE NUMBERS

5,723 -- U.S. troops killed during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

355 --U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan in 2010, the highest since the war began in 2001.

125 -- Indiana soldiers killed during the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

92 -- Military fatalities in the Zabul province, where Calhoun's helicopter crashed.

52 -- U.S. troops killed in Iraq in 2010, the lowest since the war began in 2003.

27 -- Average age of the eight fallen Elkhart area soldiers.

Source: The Washington Post "Faces of the Fallen" database and www.icasualties.org.


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