A suicide bomber killed two soldiers, including one with ties to New York and New Jersey, in Afghanistan this week, the Department of Defense announced.
Sgt. Jonathan A. Gollnitz, 28, of Lakehurst, N.J., and Staff Sgt. Orion N. Sparks, 29, of Tucson, Ariz., died September 26, 2012, in Pul-E Alam when an insurgent detonated a vest of explosives near their patrol, the Pentagon said.
Gollnitz and Sparks were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based out of Schweinfurt, Germany.
"SGT Gollnitz quickly filled a gap in the Platoon's junior leadership," a statement on the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment's Facebook page said. "Bringing a quiet professionalism to his work he was able to build a strong team of Soldiers that trusted and respected him. Jonathan was also able to communicate with Soldiers on a personal level and would often speak of his son and his plans for the future."
The suicide bombing wounded several other soldiers in the unit, according to the statement.
Gollnitz grew up in Fredonia, a village in western New York about 50 miles from Buffalo. After high school he joined in the Navy for a five years and then enlisted in the Army to be closer to the front lines, The Buffalo News reported.