The Army and his family says Sgt. Brunkhorst put the lives of his soldiers before his own, and took the brunt of the blast to protect his men.
"He loved his men and would do anything for them," Brunkhorst's wife Krystal Brunkhorst said.
Sgt. Brunkhorst's father says Brunkhorst followed him and his brother in military service. He was assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Brunkhorst enlisted in the Army as an infantryman in August 2003. He attended one station unit training and Basic Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Ga., and upon completion of his training, reported to Ft. Bragg, N.C.
Brunkhorst was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment in April 2005. The unit was re-designated as 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment three months later.
He was then deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months with 2-508 PIR in February 2007. Brunkhorst was promoted to the rank of sergeant during the deployment.
Upon returning from the deployment, Brunkhorst attended Warriors Leaders Course and was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in October 2008. He deployed to Afghanistan for a second time with 2-508 PIR in August 2009.
Brunkhorst's military awards and decorations include the Army Commendation medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Basic Parachutist Badge.
He is survived by his wife Krystal, his daughter Kendall, his father and stepmother Richard and Linda Brunkhorst.
A memorial in his honor will be held in Afghanistan.