By Sgt. Joe Padula, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)February 10, 2012
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., Feb. 10, 2012--An improvised explosive device detonated on June 18, 2010 in southern Afghanistan, taking from the world a man holding a rifle and camera. He was a Soldier, a writer, a leader, a friend, a brother and a son; he was Staff Sgt. James P. Hunter, the combat correspondent who loved to tell the Soldier's story.
Hunter was an expert at telling the Strike's story on and off the battlefield. He helped put the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, also known as "Strike," in newspapers, on television screens and uploaded to the web. His devotion to telling the Soldier's story is still felt today and his unit, Strike's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, honored their fallen hero during a morning combat focused physical training session, Jan. 24.
"We can't forget our fallen comrade, we can't forget our friend; we've worked with him, lived with him and we owe it to Hunter never to forget him," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Duquette with HHC Strike, who was in charge of the event and knew Hunter well.
Duquette and Hunter shared laughs and jokes days prior to June 18, 2010. "He was such a great Soldier and so strong, he would've smoked this event."
In full combat gear, the Soldiers of HHC ran five separate 800-meter runs, diagonal sprints with firing position dives, air assault rope climbs, 300-meter water jug carries, six-foot wall climbs while throwing medicine balls over and dragging weighted medical liters for 100-meters.
The event pushed the Soldiers to their physical limits, all relevant to how serious Hunter took his and his team's physical training.
"We honor Staff Sgt. Hunter with this kind of event because he was a PT stud," said Sgt. Jeffrey Stokes of HHC Strike, the master timer for the PT session and a friend of Hunter's who worked closely with him while in Kandahar. "By his actions and words he motivated people and Soldiers to step up and give everything they could, which is exactly what he did in Afghanistan. He made sure everyone around him achieved the goals that needed to be achieved."
Some of the Soldiers taking part in the remembrance PT are new to Strike and never had the opportunity to meet Hunter, but they know about him and what he stood for.
"I didn't know Staff Sgt. Hunter, but I know he meant a lot to the unit and his shop and I have found respect for him and the public affairs Soldiers," said Pfc. Jeremey Russell, HHC, one of Strike's new topographical analysts and a reader of the brigade's magazine, The Heartbeat, a publication made well-known because of Hunter. "Because of what he did and what continues now, we get to read about what everybody in the unit does and reading the magazine is motivating."
Upon completion of the timed event, the Strike Soldiers shared stories about the fallen hero. Some smiled as they remembered his good nature, some got teary-eyed from missing their friend. Nonetheless, Hunter is remembered and his actions overseas and at home were imperative to the mission.
"The unit was successful in all our deployments due to dedicated noncommissioned officers like Staff Sgt. James Hunter," said Capt. John Chung, the commander of HHC Strike. Chung was the commander of Strike's engineer company when he first knew of Hunter. "I've first heard about Staff Sgt. Hunter prior to our last OEF 10-11 deployment and when I heard my Sappers talk about him it was how he loved to be with Soldiers and capture their stories. We honor Staff Sgt. James Hunter because his dedication to mission accomplishment inspires each and every one of us."