Mayor: Plainwell to rally behind soldier's family

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Associated Press

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 6:02 AM

PLAINWELL, Mich. (AP) — Plainwell's mayor says the western Michigan community will rally around the family of a 38-year-old Army sergeant who died from injuries he sustained in an enemy attack in Afghanistan.

Mark Schoonhoven died Sunday at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday. He was based at Fort Carson in Colorado.

Schoonhoven was a 1994 graduate of Plainwell High School. The city of 3,800 is about 12 miles north of Kalamazoo.

Plainwell Mayor Richard Brooks told Mlive.com (http://bit.ly/WiU3gu ) that his city has dealt with war deaths in the past. He noted the death of Pvt. Thomas Allers of Plainwell, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

"Unfortunately, we know how to deal with this," Brooks said. "Two years ago one of our own died. That was tragic and so is this."

Brooks said residents rallied around the Allers family, and he expects the same for Schoonhoven's.

"Plainwell is a great community and they will come together for the family," Brooks said.

According to the Pentagon, Schoonhoven was wounded Dec. 15 when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Kabul, Afghanistan. He had arrived in Afghanistan the previous month.

He had previously been deployed to Afghanistan two separate times.

Schoonhoven joined the Army in 2006 and served as a motor transport operator for the 32nd Transportation Company, which is part of the 4th Infantry Division. His decorations include two Army commendation medals, a National Defense Service medal and a NATO medal.

Bob Dines, a member of Otsego American Legion Post 84, said he met Schoonhoven's parents when he presented them with a Blue Star Banner in 2011 in recognition of their son's duty in Afghanistan.

"They were very gracious people, Harry and Deb, and they were very proud of Mark," Dines said. "They were just a very nice family."

Dines said the Legion offered help and support to the family during Schoonhoven's deployment.

No immediate funeral or memorial services were announced. A Fort Carson spokesman said there probably would be an on-base memorial ceremony for Schoonhoven next week.

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