John R. Champion, Jr. – First Sergeant, United States Army

First Sergeant John R. Champion Jr., 41, of Myrtle Beach, died Monday, July 6, 2009 in Beaufort, North Carolina.


He was a native of South Carolina, but was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He attended Socastee High School and immediately joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17. He went to basic training in Ft. McClellan, Alabama, and advance medical training at Fort Sam in Houston. He also attended Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, upon his initial entry.

First Sergeant Champion has held many assignments worldwide, including in Korea, Italy, Turkey, Singapore, Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Darfur. He was also stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Irwin, California; and Fort Polk, Louisiana. He spent ten years in the 82nd Airborne Division, and 11 years serving as a Special Forces operator. His combat tours include Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, and Kosovo. First Sergeanat Champion served two terms in Iraq and Afghanistan, and two terms in Desert Storm.

His medals and awards were numerous, and include the Soldier's Medal for actions during the Towle Stadium shooting on October 27, 1995; the Silver Star; the Bronze Star with ”V” device for actions in combat while deployed to Afghanistan; the Air medal for saving the lives of over 20 German soldiers who were critically wounded; Meritorious Service Medal 4th award; Good Conduct Medal 7th Award; Humanitarian Service Medal 2nd award; South West Asia Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals; Kuwait Liberation Medal; Joint Meritorious Unit Medal; Presidential Unit Citation; The Combat Medical Badge; Air Crewman Badge; Master Parachutist Badge; Air Assault Badge; Special Forces Tab; Airborne Tab; Belgium Commando Badge; German Fitness Badge; National Defense Service Medal; War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Southwest Asia Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal; and Army Achievement Medal.

He assisted in the search and rescue of victims in the 9/11 tragedies of the twin towers and the Pentagon. Upon retiring from the U.S. Army in 2005, he went to work for the U.S. Government for two years with Project H.O.P.E., serving in Africa to stop Genocide in Darfur. He held a Bachelor's of Science degree from Campbell University, and was residing in Beaufort, N.C., where he was the Sr. Vice Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2401, and was operating a restaurant in Morehead City, Nirth Carolina.

He was preceded in death by his father, George Kornbau Sr.; birth father, John R. Champion Sr.; and his brother, James Hunter Champion.

He is survived by his mother, Gloria S. Kornbau of Murrells Inlet; daughter, Madison Caroline Champion of Stafford, Virginia; sisters, Leslie J. Champion of Tampa, Florida, and Susan Celeste Edwards of West Virginia; stepbrothers, Michael L. Kornbau of Myrtle Beach, and Gerald Kornbau, Jeff Kornbau, and George Kornbau Jr., all of York, Pennsylvania; and nieces, Tori and Taylor Edwards of Inman.

A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, July 16, 2009 at Goldfinch Funeral Home, Beach Chapel, in Murrells Inlet, with General Randy West officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Veteran of Foreign Wars of U.S., Department of North Carolina Relief Fund, P.O. Box 25337, Raleigh, North Carolina 27611; or to Veterans of Foreign Wars of U.S., V.F.W. Post No. 10420 Relief Fund, P.O. Box 308, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina 29576.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/31/1967
  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/06/2009


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