A lesbian soldier who was a founding member of SPARTA was found dead over the weekend on a North Carolina beach campground.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Tania Nichole Dunbar's body was found Sunday at Freeman Park in Carolina Beach, reports Port City Daily of Wilmington, N.C. "She fell and hit her head on the truck door handle," Town Manager Michael Cramer told the paper. No foul play is suspected, and an autopsy is scheduled for today.
Dunbar, who had recently returned from a deployment in Kuwait and was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., was married with two children, but was camping alone, the paper reports. Her wife, Dee Graham-Dunbar, was a cofounder of another LGBT military group, the Military Partners and Families Coalition, according to that organization's Facebook page.
Officials with SPARTA and the families group both issued statements of mourning for the soldier, who identified as a cisgender lesbian. "Tania Dunbar was an incredible person with a huge heart," SPARTA membership director Christopher Hooper told Port City Daily. "Her contributions to the LGBT community are numerous and she was well respected. Her contributions to SPARTA are a fully functioning organization that is the premier organization for transgender service. She was my role model and someone who I aspire to be like. Her loss is being felt at all levels of SPARTA and no one will ever know the full depth of our sorrows. She was a mother, sister, friend, lover, LGBT rights activist, but most of all, one hell of a soldier."
A Facebook post from the Military Partners and Families Coalition president Ariana Bostian-Kentes read in part, "This is a huge loss for our community and to those of us personally who knew Chief as a friend. She was quite simply a force to be reckoned with -- one of the smartest, toughest, funniest, and most dedicated people to ever walk this Earth. ... Rest easy, Chief. We will miss you."