Nation & World

Kansas soldier dies in non-combat incident while supporting ISIS fight in Iraq

An Army Reserve soldier from Kansas, Christina Marie Shoenecker, died Monday in a non-combat related incident in Baghdad, the military announced on Tuesday. It was her first deployment.
An Army Reserve soldier from Kansas, Christina Marie Shoenecker, died Monday in a non-combat related incident in Baghdad, the military announced on Tuesday. It was her first deployment. U.S. military

Christina Marie Schoenecker, an Army Reserve soldier from Arlington, Kan., died Monday in Baghdad, Iraq, the Department of Defense announced on Tuesday. She was 26.

Schoenecker was the third soldier to die since the beginning of 2018 in the ongoing, U.S.-led fight against ISIS called Operation Inherent Resolve. All three deaths were non-combat related, the military said.

Arlington is a town of about 450 people in Reno County, northwest of Wichita. Schoenecker enlisted in the Army in May 2009 and was on her first deployment.

She was assigned to the 89th Sustainment Brigade out of Wichita. The unit’s deployment to Iraq began last June, according to Stars and Stripes.

The month before she left she talked about her deployment with her Facebook friends and said she planned to take many family photos with her overseas, Stars and Stripes reported.

Now tributes are being posted there, by people who knew and loved her and members of the vast military family honoring her service.

A GoFundMe campaign is underway to help her family with travel and funeral costs, and perhaps create a memorial in her name.

The military didn’t release any details about her death, only that she was in Baghdad at the time. The incident is under investigation, which is typical for non-combat deaths.

“We express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker,” Frankie Murphy, the command executive officer for the 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command, said in a statement.

“We’ve lost a valuable member of our team, and she will be sorely missed.”

Schoenecker was a human resources specialist, according to her service verification documents provided to the Military Times. She was promoted to sergeant in January 2015.

She had received the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Service Ribbon, and the National Defense Service Medal.

According to the Defense Department, 51 U.S. military members have died in Operation Inherent Resolve since it began in 2014.

Of those deaths, 38 had nothing to do with combat, according to the military.

This year, Capt. Dean Sprouting, a 46-year-old Scottish soldier, died on Jan. 31 in an accident at Al Asad Air Base in Anbar Province, west of Baghdad, the British Defense Ministry said.

The cause of his death was just announced last week: He was hit by a forklift truck when he was returning from a run at the airbase, which is used to train Iraqi soldiers to fight against ISIS.

Also in January, Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan of Fort Mill, S.C., died a month before his 25th birthday in Anbar Province, also in a non-combat incident.

The young husband and father who wanted to own his own gym someday was assigned to the 16th Signal Company, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas. He died on Jan. 8.

He had a service with full military honors.

His wife, Raven Sullivan, told her hometown newspaper, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, that the loss of her husband, who had told her not to worry about him while he was away, hit home when their 3-year-old daughter, Mahogany, said at his grave, “Daddy’s in my heart.”

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