Family mourns the loss of a fallen soldier - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Family mourns the loss of a fallen soldier

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PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. -- An Army solider killed in Kuwait returned home to the United States on Thursday. 

Loved ones tell News 3's Emily Manley how they are holding onto the memories of the Pickneyville woman. 

Robert Bolinski calls his wife, Sergeant Holli Bolinski, a loving mother of five and a fighter.

The 37-year-old military reservist was killed on Tuesday overseas in a vehicle crash. 

Mendi Sroka fights back the tears as she remembers her older sister Holli. 

"Every time I talked to her, she told me she loved knowing she was protecting me, her kids and our country," Sroka said. "She would give the shirt off her back to just about anyone and she had a heart of gold."

Bolinski was a Pinckeyville native and a Sergeant in the Army. This would have been her 11th year serving in the military. 

She previously toured in Iraq.

"She became a Sergeant and she was so excited about it,' Sroka said. "I remember her talking to me about it all the time."

The Department of Defense says Bolinski died Tuesday in a "non-combat" related incident in Kuwait. 

Her husband told News 3 a semi truck ran a stop sign and hit the SUV Bolinski was driving. 

The crash killed Bolinski and 20-year-old Sp Jackson Johnson of Hillsboro, Missouri.

"His family is mourning his death too, it's not just us," Sroka said. 

Bolinski leaves behind a husband and 5 kids between the ages of 10 to 20. 

"She was more than a soldier, she was the most dedicated mom," Sroka said. 

Holli Patterson met Bolinski back in 2016 when she was looking for a job. 

Bolinski was the manager at the Casey's in Pinckeyville. 

"She was very open and honest and had a very personal relationship with her coworkers and the people underneath her," Patterson said. 

Patterson says that the loss of this loving mom, wife, friend and coworker is tough on everyone.

"Someone that is in our area that has fought for our country and has just gone in a innocent, it hits you like a fright train, it really does," Patterson said. 

Sroka's American Flag in her front yard now sits at half staff as a reminder that her sister made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Sgt. Bolinski was set to return home late this summer. 

Sgt. Guy Penny was the third soldier in the vehicle. He was in the backseat of the SUV and is expected to make a full recovery. 

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