Navy vet killed in Aurora theater shooting to be hailed

Jonathan Blunk, who served three tours in the Middle East from 2004 to 2009, died after shielding a friend and telling her to stay down when a heavily armed gunman burst into the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora

BY MARTIN GRIFFITH,Associated Press

RENO, Nev. | A 26-year-old Navy veteran who was among the Colorado movie theater shooting victims was being remembered for his kind, giving nature and was set to be honored at a funeral Friday.

Jonathan Blunk, who served three tours in the Middle East from 2004 to 2009, died after shielding a friend and telling her to stay down when a heavily armed gunman burst into the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora and killed 12 people and wounded 58 others.

Chantel Blunk, wife of Jonathan Blunk, waits Friday, July 27, 2012, on the tarmac at Denver International Airport as her husbands body is about to be loaded into a plane to fly to Reno, Nev., for his full military funeral. Blunk a five-year U.S. Navy veteran that was killed during a July 20 shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, RJ Sangosti)

James Holmes, 24, a former doctoral student studying neuroscience, has been charged with dozens of counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the July 20 attack, one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history.

The 26-year-old Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Hug High School in Reno, most recently lived in Aurora and worked for a small flooring company.

Blunk was to receive a full military funeral in Reno, complete with a three-volley rifle salute and a performance of taps. Among those scheduled to attend were family members, including his wife, Chantel, and their daughter Hailey, 4, and son, Maximus, 2.

“Honestly, he was one of those really nice, kind people,” said Amy DeGuzman of Bremerton, Wash., his supervisor in the Navy who was to serve as a pallbearer. “There’s not enough words for what a kind person he was. Everybody really loved him. He wanted to help people out.”

Blunk was an avid outdoorsman and gun owner. He also was a “good worker. He always did everything I asked and more,” DeGuzman said.

Blunk had planned to re-enlist in the Navy in hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL after shrinking agency budgets sidelined his goal of becoming a police officer, said James Gill of Brighton, Colo., his roommate in the Navy and another scheduled pallbearer.

Blunk was a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician who spent the bulk of his time in the Navy aboard the USS Nimitz.

“He was a fantastic guy,” Gill said. “Everybody was family to him. He would have done anything for anyone at the drop of a hat. He wanted to help people.”

Contributions from a variety of sources, including the Reno Aces baseball team and the USS Nimitz, will go toward support of Blunk’s wife and children, DeGuzman said.

“These kids will not want,” she told The Associated Press. “We want to make sure the family has enough so Chantel can provide for them. She’s still in shock, and she’s trying to raise kids and they’re young.”

Blunk’s wife, who along with her children is temporarily staying with her parents in Reno, has worked as a model to help make ends meet and hopes to return to school in the future, DeGuzman said.

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