One of the victims killed in the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting had military ties to San Diego.
Navy veteran Jonathan Blunk, 26, was among the 12 victims killed in the Colorado movie theater rampage Friday.
NBC 7 San Diego spoke with Jonathan's estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, on Sunday. She currently lives in Reno, Nev., with their two young children.
Blunk told NBC 7 San Diego that Jonathan served on the USS Nimitz in Coronado for three years. She recalled visiting the base and going to the movies or bowling with her husband while they were stationed in San Diego.
Their four-year-old daughter was even born on the base.
At 26, Jonathan had served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009, said close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colo.
"It was guts or glory for him," Gill told The Associated Press. "It always surprised me that he didn't serve in a situation more on the front line. He wanted to be a first responder on the front line."
Blunk was also a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician, Gill added.
Chantel Blunk described her estranged husband as someone who always wanted to better himself and his family, an all-around good guy that people could always depend on.
“He’s always been the type of person that was very hardworking – very much about school and ways to better himself and his family. He always wanted to be a hero,” said Blunk.
Blunk said Jonathan had dreams of re-enlisting in the Navy and of one day becoming a Navy SEAL.
After finding out the heartbreaking news of his death in the mass shooting, she said her family is trying to stay strong. Still, she can’t believe he’s really gone.
“I didn’t want to believe it and I still don’t. It’s hard. I’m trying to stay strong and give him the proper burial and I can’t break til then. I can’t,” said Blunk.
Blunk said she and her estranged husband had been separated but were in the process of working on their relationship. Blunk said Jonathan was even planning a trip to Reno to visit her and their children on Saturday.
He never made it.
Jonathon died in the shooting Friday night after jumping in front of his friend, whom Blunk confirmed he was dating at the time.
"That's something he would do," Gill said. "If he was going to choose a way to die, that's how he wanted to go -- defending someone from a (person) like that."