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U.S. Army medical sergeant who called SLO home dies in Afghanistan

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Boniface
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Boniface

A U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant who considered San Luis Obispo his home was killed in a “non-combat-related incident” in Afghanistan on Sunday, an Army spokeswoman said.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Boniface, 34, grew up in El Centro, in Southern California, but lived in the San Luis Obispo area for a few years before enlisting 11 years ago, Maj. Kimbia Rey said.

“He has friends there, he considered that his home,” said Rey, who didn’t know exactly how long Boniface lived in San Luis Obispo or what brought him to the area.

Rey said Boniface enlisted in the Army in March 2006 and went straight into Special Forces training after completing both infantry basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Boniface “was bestowed the coveted Green Beret” on Jan. 14, 2010, according to an Army statement.

He served as a Special Forces medical sergeant, “considered to be the finest first-response/trauma medical technicians in the world,” according to the Army’s recruitment website.

Boniface and his unit, the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, were stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, but Boniface was in Afghanistan’s Logar Province, near the eastern border with Pakistan, supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

In his 11 years of service, Boniface was decorated several times, including two Bronze Star Medals, an Army Commendation Medal and two Army Good Conduct Medals.

He is survived by his wife, Rebekah Boniface, and daughter, Mia Elia Boniface, who live near the Eglin base in Niceville, Florida; and his parents, Elia and David Boniface, who reside in El Centro.

The cause of Boniface’s death remains under investigation, according to an Army statement.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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