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January 9, 2012

VIDEO: 4 Indiana Guard soldiers’ bodies return to homeland

Sole Guard survivor of Afghan blast in coma

INDIANAPOLIS — The bodies of four members of an Indiana National Guard unit killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan have been returned to the United States.

Guard officials say the remains arrived Sunday night at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base during a ceremony attended by their families and senior military officials, including Indiana Adjutant General Martin Umbarger.

Umbarger said the men should be honored as “faithful warriors.”

The remains of 32-year-old Staff Sgt. Jonathan Metzger of Indianapolis; 21-year-old Spc. Brian Leonhardt of Merrillville, 44-year-old Spc. Robert Tauteris of Hamlet; and 20-year-old Spc. Christopher Patterson of Aurora, Ill., are expected to be returned to Indiana and Illinois within two weeks.

The four men died Thursday when their vehicle struck a bomb in Kandahar province. All were members of the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineer Company.

Video: Indiana National Guard Dignified Transfer

General Peter Chiarelli and General Martin Dempsey render honors to SSG Jonathan Metzger, SPC Christopher Patterson, SPC Robert Tauteris Jr. and SPC Brian Leonardt at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Jan. 8, 2012.



Sole Guard survivor of Afghan blast is in coma

HAMMOND, Ind. — The father of the only survivor of a roadside bombing in Afghanistan that killed four members of an Indiana National Guard unit says his son is in a drug-induced coma at a Virginia hospital.

Gerald Rachowicz told The Times of Munster Sunday night that his 29-year-old son, Pvt. Doug Rachowicz of Hammond, is in serious condition with multiple injuries.

He says his son was driving a van Thursday morning in southern Afghanistan during a mission to clear a combat route of roadside bombs when it struck one of the bombs, killing four other soldiers riding in the truck.

Rachowicz says his son has a 6-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, but for now they won’t be flying out to Virginia to join other relatives at his bedside.

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