PFC Anthony A. Gaunky, of Sparta, Wisconsin, always called Alex by his friends and family. He spent his early years in Mundelein, Illinois, before moving to Wisconsin after third grade. A happy teenager, he played the French Horn in the band, managed the school football team, was voted best dancer in his senior class. During his free-time he rode his bike up and down the Elroy-Sparta bike trail, fished and was a fanatic fan of Star Wars and Monty Python. After graduating from Sparta High School in 2004, he enlisted in the Army. He deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2005, assigned to the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. On November 17, Alex and another soldier were driving their HMMWV down a road in Bayji, Iraq, as part of a convoy. A local national crossed the road and struck their vehicle. Alex died the next day from his injuries at at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany.
SPARTA — In life, Alex Gaunky preferred to be a good teammate on the Sparta High School chess club, not club president. He preferred to be a manager of the football team instead of start for it. He electrified the basketball arena with his French horn, not three-pointers.
“Alex never tried to take all the glory,” his chess coach and math teacher, Cale Jackson, said Sunday afternoon while eulogizing Gaunky at his funeral. “He was just happy being a part of the team.”
Sparta soldier dies in Iraq where brothers served
The Associated Press
SPARTA, Wis. A 19-year-old soldier from Sparta has died in Iraq, where three of his brothers also have served.
David Gaunky of Sparta said the family was informed Friday his son, Anthony Alex Gaunky, died from injuries suffered when a vehicle came across the road and crashed into his convoy. He said authorities were still investigating why the other vehicle swerved.
He said his son suffered severe head trauma and other injuries, requiring multiple surgeries, and was airlifted to Germany but died.
His son, who was with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky., was sent to Iraq in August, he said.
Gaunky said two of his other sons are serving their second tours in the region, 24-year-old Adam with the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier Tarawa, and 22-year-old Don with military intelligence in Iraq, attached to the 18th Airborne Corps. Dons twin brother Bob recently got out of the Navy and also had served in Iraq, he said.
Anthony Alex Gaunky graduated last year from Sparta High School.
His father said Alex knew in middle school he would join the military, and he joined up soon after graduating from high school.
While in Iraq, he kept in touch with the family in telephone calls, Gaunky said.
The family asked that doctors take any of his viable organs for transplants, he said.
So at least that means some part of him lives on and he’s still trying to save lives, his father said.
Forty-nine military personnel from Wisconsin have died in the Iraq war.
Army Pfc. Anthony A. Gaunky
Age 19, Sparta, Wisconsin; Beiji, Iraq
A soldier whose wife and two children live in Coos Bay died from injuries suffered in Iraq, the Army said. Spc. Vernon R. Widner, 34, and Pfc. Anthony Alex Gaunky, 19, of Sparta, Wisconsin, both members of the 101st Airborne Division, were in a Humvee that was intentionally struck by a civilian vehicle, according to a news release from Multi-National Forces-Iraq. The attack closely followed an improvised explosive device detonation on the same route, the release said. Widner died Thursday and Gaunky died Friday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.