One of six U.S. troops killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan this week was a 29-year-old man who grew up in Johnston County, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby confirmed Wednesday.
Chris Bohler was a member of the U.S. Army and was a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas.
His mother, Deborah Bohler, is a longtime employee at the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.
Willoughby said the family learned of Bohler’s death before dawn Wednesday. He and the other soldiers had been killed the day before when their Black Hawk crashed in a remote area of southern Afghanistan.
“She came by early this morning and left a note,” Willoughby said Wednesday evening. The family requested privacy, he added.
“At 5:30 this morning my heart shattered into a million pieces,” Deborah Bohler wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday. “God give us the strength to get through this pain.”
Bohler was the oldest of three children and came from a long line of soldiers. His great-grandfather served in Europe during World War I. One of his grandfathers enlisted in the Army during World War II, and a great-uncle enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War. His father, Pete Bohler, also served in the Army.
Bohler graduated from South Johnston High School in 2003 and attended Johnston Community College from August until December of that year.
Willoughby said during the 14 years that Deborah Bohler has worked with his office, her oldest son and his siblings were familiar sights in the courthouse, especially during teacher workdays and over the holidays.
“Over the years, I would see the kids sporadically,” he said. “They were always nice, mannerly and well-behaved.”
The district attorney added that days and months pass and no one thinks much about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“News like this brings it all home. Especially when it’s someone close to us,” he said. “It’s just a tragedy.”
Staff writer Paula Seligson contributed to this report.