Parker, CO, US
U.S. Marine Corps
CPL, INTEL BN, SPEC OPS, SUPPORT GROUP (2D MSOB) CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
05/04/2013, FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan
CPL Sonka was a multi-purpose canine handler. He joined the USMC in August 2008, and moved into MARSOC, the Marine Corps’ special operations force. David took part in training the native Afghan police force. On May 4, 2013 the Marines took off their armor to show solidarity with and trust of the Afghan trainee force. An infiltrator took this opportunity to shoot and kill David and his MPC war dog Flex.
CPL Sonka attended Military Police School in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Upon graduation he completed the Military Working Dog Handler Basic Course at Lackland Air Force Base, TX. When CPL David Sonka was training his military dogs, he was realizing a lifelong dream. By the age of 12 David knew that he wanted to be a Marine. And as a Marine he aimed at being a military police officer and a canine handler. He enlisted on the day he turned 18, and CPL Sonka began to attain each of his goals.
CPL Sonka was an accomplished Marine, and a man devoted to his family. David loved all animals, but he was passionate about large-breed dogs. A Marine who had worked with CPL Sonka explained that David was a naturally gifted trainer and handler.
“I heard he just used patience and love,” according to his father Kevin Sonka. CPL Sonka was raised as an independent person. His father added, “He taught us that just because you want to wear the same T-shirt every day, or your socks or even your shoes don’t match, it doesn’t matter.”
What mattered to CPL Sonka was pushing himself to always achieve, to be better. Other Marines pointed out that David volunteered for his last assignment and was accepted because of his skills. Family and friends talked about CPL Sonka training on his days off, and sleeping in the dog kennel, and how as a child he sent $200 of his own money to the relief fund for the 9/11 victims’ families.
The circumstances surrounding CPL Sonka’s death cannot diminish his efforts as a Marine or as a humanitarian. His father described being proud of his son every step of the way, and of the wish to return to that feeling. He expressed how important it is to recognize David’s extraordinary contributions to his service.
“From this point forward, these are no longer tears of sorrow,” explained Kevin Sonka. “They are tears of pride.”