Story Summary

Parents Of Local Fallen Soldier Talks To FOX 17

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – A local soldier has died from combat wounds after his unit went under attack in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense announced Wednesday that Sgt. Mark H. Schoonhoven, 38, of Plainwell, Mich. died on Jan. 20, at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Sgt. Schoonhoven was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom when his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device on Dec. 15, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The solider was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Family told FOX 17 News that Sgt. Schoonhoven volunteered to go on this third tour to Afghanistan.

 

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OTSEGO, Mich. -  Funeral arrangements are set for a fallen soldier from Plainwell, and the public is invited to help honor Sgt. Mark Schoonhoven by lining the streets with flags, while his remains are transported.

Schoonhoven, 35, passed away in a Texas hospital on January 20, after a five week coma.   The soldier suffered severe spinal and brain injuries when his unit was hit with an Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D.) in Afghanistan.   Schoonhoven is survived by a wife a six children.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:


Monday,
Feb. 4

Schoonhoven’s remains arrive at Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport around 3:15 p.m.   The public is invited to line the streets with flags as the casket is transported up Portage Street to Riverview Drive, then along M-89 to Winkel Funeral Home at 207 E. Allegan St. in Otsego.

Wednesday, Feb. 5

Visitation will be held at Winkel Funeral Home in Otsego from 2:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. and 6:00p.m. to 8:00p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 6

The funeral will be held at St. Margaret Catholic Church at 766 S. Farmer Street in Otsego at 11:00a.m. The public is welcome to line the streets with flags during the procession that will travel from the church along M-89 through Richland, and over to Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, where Schoonhoven will laid to rest.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Just days after an Allegan County soldier passed away, Sgt. Mark Schoonhoven’s family is telling FOX 17 a story of not only a fallen soldier and a hero, but that of a good man.

Sgt. Schoonhoven may have joined the military later in life, at 32, but his family said he was a passionate leader and climbed up the ranks quickly.

“He was always there,” the soldier’s mother cried.

Harry and Deb Schoonhoven sit close together on their couch in Kalamazoo, holding hands, talking about the time their son first told them he was joining the Army.

“We were proud,” Deb said.  “We thought he would just sit back and be a regular soldier.  Being in the military made a man out of him”

Harry laughed, “He beat the crap out of the 20-year-olds.”

After only about two months of marriage, the 38-year-old sergeant headed back to Afghanistan for his third tour last November; this time he volunteered.

“(Mark) did it because he wanted to take care of the (soldiers) underneath him,” Harry said.

According to the Department of Defense, Schoonhoven’s unit was hit with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Dec. 15.  The Plainwell native stayed in a coma and fought for his life for five weeks in a Texas hospital; his mother and new wife stayed at his side.

“They wanted us to go on tours or go enjoy ourselves,” Deb said. “I just didn’t feel it was right.”

For Deb, what felt right was being with her son, even if he couldn’t hear her talking.

“We feel he knew we were there,” she said.

For weeks, Deb said she had conversations with Mark about the future.

“His wife kept reminding him that he had six children to come back to,” she said.

The children range in age from 6-months to 17 years.  Deb remembered the baby’s last visit; she was bundled up in sterile hospital gear.

“We snuck the glove off one hand and let him hold (the baby’s) hand,” Deb said.  “(Her mother) let her go up and feel (Mark’s) face.  And she giggled. And made her little sound. And (Mark’s) eyes kind of perked up, but he never woke up.”

Sgt. Mark Schoonhoven passed away at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston on Jan. 20.

Deb said, as a mother, she thought she saw signs of her son getting better. She remained hopeful that she’d see her son’s blue eyes once again.

“He will be missed,” Deb breaks down, “very missed.”

Now, a solemn memorial stands in the Schoonhoven’s backyard; a constant reminder of the love they have for their son, and the selfless sacrifice of their soldier.

The family said they are working with the military to bring Schoonhoven’s remains back to West Michigan in the first week of February.  That’s when a full military precession through the streets will be planned.   We will pass along details of when and where this will happen as soon as they become available.

Sgt. Schoonhoven was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Just days after an Allegan County soldier passed away, Sgt. Mark Schoonhoven’s family is telling FOX 17 a story of not only a fallen soldier and a hero, but that of a good man.

Sgt. Schoonhoven may have joined the military later in life, at 32, but his family said he was a passionate leader and climbed up the ranks quickly.

“He was always there,” the soldier’s mother cried.

Harry and Deb Schoonhoven sit close together on their couch in Kalamazoo, holding hands, talking about the time their son first told them he was joining the Army.

“We were proud,” Deb said.  “We thought he would just sit back and be a regular soldier.  Being in the military made a man out of him”

Harry laughed, “He beat the crap out of the 20-year-olds.”

After only about two months of marriage, the 38-year-old sergeant headed back to Afghanistan for his third tour last November; this time he volunteered.

“(Mark) did it because he wanted to take care of the (soldiers) underneath him,” Harry said.

According to the Department of Defense, Schoonhoven’s unit was hit with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Dec. 15.  The Plainwell native stayed in a coma and fought for his life for five weeks in a Texas hospital; his mother and new wife stayed at his side.

“They wanted us to go on tours or go enjoy ourselves,” Deb said. “I just didn’t feel it was right.”

For Deb, what felt right was being with her son, even if he couldn’t hear her talking.

“We feel he knew we were there,” she said.

For weeks, Deb said she had conversations with Mark about the future.

“His wife kept reminding him that he had six children to come back to,” she said.

The children range in age from 6-months to 17 years.  Deb remembered the baby’s last visit; she was bundled up in sterile hospital gear.

“We snuck the glove off one hand and let him hold (the baby’s) hand,” Deb said.  “(Her mother) let her go up and feel (Mark’s) face.  And she giggled. And made her little sound. And (Mark’s) eyes kind of perked up, but he never woke up.”

Sgt. Mark Schoonhoven passed away at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston on Jan. 20.

Deb said, as a mother, she thought she saw signs of her son getting better. She remained hopeful that she’d see her son’s blue eyes once again.

“He will be missed,” Deb breaks down, “very missed.”

Now, a solemn memorial stands in the Schoonhoven’s backyard; a constant reminder of the love they have for their son, and the selfless sacrifice of their soldier.

The family said they are working with the military to bring Schoonhoven’s remains back to West Michigan in the first week of February.  That’s when a full military precession through the streets will be planned.   We will pass along details of when and where this will happen as soon as they become available.

Sgt. Schoonhoven was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

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