MEMPHIS, TN - A Mid-South Marine has been killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. 25-year-old Sgt. Garrett Misener, a Cordova High graduate, died early Monday morning while on foot patrol in Helmand province. The Department of Defense says he was fatally wounded after stepping on an improvised explosive device.
Sgt. Misener joined the Marines when he was 18. Family and friends say he would have signed up at a younger age, if he'd been allowed.
After mulitiple deployments overseas, this was supposed to be Misener's final tour of duty. Instead of planning for a life after military service, his family is planning the young man's funeral.
His childhood friend, Luke Saunders, says even as a kid, Garrett had only one thing on his mind.
"As long as I've known Garrett," Saunders tells abc24.com, "he's talked about the military, trained for the military and practiced for the military. We would go to church functions and he'd be decked all out in camo."
The two attended Sunday School together at Bellevue Baptist Church . Garrett played the drums and bass in the band. Youth Pastor Carter Threlkeld vividly recalls a good kid with endless energy and an unsurpassed passion for the outdoors.
"He was in the band and in the singing Christmas tree," Rev. Threlkeld says, "and you know, he was a part of everything in the church. He loved to go camping, if you could handle camping with him. He was pretty intense."
According to Saunders, intense was an understatement when describing Garrett's approach to life and his military aspirations.
"I've seen him train," says Saunders. "Our junior and senior year summers, I remember him running down Germantown Parkway with a backpack full of bricks to make himself conditioned. Even in 7th and 8th grade, I remember him exercising and getting in shape so he could enlist when he got into high school."
Rev. Threlkeld says Garrett served proudly in Iraq, where he adored the children and believed strongly in bringing freedom, peace and safety to the land. This was his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Now, as the U.S. military brings Sgt. Misener's body back home, in a coffin draped with the American flag, loved ones celebrate his life, his accomplishments, his respect for this country, and his love of God.
"Garrett knew Jesus Christ," says Saunders. "For a believer, for someone who is born again, they can say: I am saddened for his loss, but I'm at peace knowing he's spending time with God."
Sgt. Garrett Misener was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejenue in North Carolina.
He is the 7th Camp Lejeune Marine killed in Helmand province this month.
Misener leaves behind his mother, Janne Zaccagnino of Fayette County, his step-father Dan Zaccagnino, two sisters, Anne and Jana, and his father, Gary Misener, who lives in New Mexico.
Funeral arrangements for Sgt. Misener are incomplete.