Marine Cpl. David Sonka, of Parker, and his K-9, Flex, killed in combat operations in Afghanistan

Coach: Sonka was dedicated Chaparral Hi wrestler

Marine Cpl. David M. Sonka, 23, of Parker, who was killed along with his K-9 during combat operations in Afghanistan Saturday, is remembered as a dedicated wrestling and track athlete at Chaparral High School.

Chaparral wrestling coach Rodney Padilla said Sonka was a guy who would always step up -- filling in for other teammates at a big tournament

"He had a great work ethic. Never shied away from anything we ever did," Padilla said. "He always did what was supposed to do.  And what do you tell them. You tell the do what you’re supposed to do when you're supposed to do it, someday you'll be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it."

Sonka and Staff Sgt. Eric Christian, 39, of Warwick, N.Y., were killed while conducting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

A Facebook page devoted to K9 heroes said Cpl. Sonka's military working dog, Flex, was also killed.

Both Sonka and Christian were members of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and were assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine officials declined to say how Christian and Sonka died, but the International Security Assistance Force said Saturday that two service members were killed when an Afghan Army soldier turned his weapon against them, according to the Marine Corps Times. The incident remains under investigation, Marine officials said.

Sonka was a multi-purpose canine handler. He joined the Corps in August 2008, and moved into the Special Operations Command last year.

 Sonka attended Military Police School in Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. Upon graduation he attended the Military Working Dog Handler Basic Course in Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Sonka's personal decorations include a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and a Combat Action Ribbon.

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