ST. LOUIS – We are learning more about the two St. Louis-area Army reservists who were killed earlier this week in a horrible crash in Kuwait.
Sgt. Holli Bolinski and Spc. Jackson D. Johnson died March 5, 2019, as a result of a non-combat related incident. Bolinksi, 37, was from Pinckneyville, IL; Johnson, 20, was from Hillsboro, MO.
An Army spokesperson said Bolinski, Johnson, and another Army reservist were in an SUV on a routine mission when it collided with a water truck. Bolinski and Johnson were killed and the third soldier was hurt.
All three soldiers were assigned to 657th Transportation Company, 419th Transportation Battalion, 103d Sustainment Command, out of Mount Vernon, Illinois.
Bolinski was a wife and a mother of five children. Her sister, Mendi Sroka, said Holli was devoted to serving in the Army. She joined back in 2009.
“That was her pride. She loved being in the Army. She loved to protect people,” Sroka said.
Sroka is still in shock over the tragic loss of her beloved sister.
“I don’t want to believe it. I don’t think anyone wants to believe it. No one saw it coming. We all believed she was safe just doing her job. It’s really hard,” she said.
Tara Kennedy said Johnson, her cousin, was born to be in the Army.
She said he’d been in the Army Reserves for three years and wanted the Army to be his career.
Kuwait was his first deployment.
Kennedy is still trying to comprehend the tragedy.
“It’s still not real. It’s still not real. To see pictures and videos, it’s very difficult,” she said.
As Kennedy and Sroka grieve, they know their loved ones died doing what they loved.
“She died a hero,” Sroka said.
Tara called Jackson a hero as well, saying: “We’re a large, loving family and we all step in and help each other.”
Johnson’s mother said she was told the water truck involved in the crash was a civilian truck.
The bodies of both Bolinski and Johnson arrived Thursday evening at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Funeral services for both reservists were still pending.