Tears filled my eyes.
That's how I reacted upon learning the news from a colleague that U.S. Army Sgt. Steve McCoy died last Tuesday from injuries he suffered months ago while fighting in the Iraq War.
Although he grew up in Moultrie, his roots were buried deep in Warren County soil where many of his family members reside, including his parents, Sam and Pam McCoy of Camak.
Even though I'd never had the pleasure and honor of meeting Sgt. McCoy in person, I felt I knew him through interviews with family members and others that not only knew him, but loved him, including his grandmother, Ann D. McCoy, who lives in Warrenton.
I'll never forget "Miss Ann) telling me over the telephone how proud she was of her grandson after his injuries. It reminded me of the close relationship I had with my grandmothers before they passed away.
Sgt. Steve McCoy was a good and most honorable man. He was a man who deeply loved his family, as well as his country.
In fact, he loved America so much that he sacrificed his own life, just like more than 4,000 other American military troops have done since the war in Iraq began five years ago.
I remember talking to Sgt. McCoy's uncle and aunt, Steve and Phyllis Giddens, at their home in Warrenton shortly after his Bradley armored vehicle was hit - killing four men inside and critically injuring him. He received burns to more than 90 percent of his body. He had been the lone survivor of that attack. The four men killed in battle last Easter brought to 4,000 the number of American troops killed at the time in the Iraq War.
Sgt. McCoy's story needed to be told. And I wanted to tell it. I'm thankful that Mr. and Mrs. Giddens allowed me to interview them and enlighten others about a man I considered a real American hero.
Sgt. McCoy's body was flown to the Thomson-McDuffie County Regional Airport on Monday and then taken to Beggs Funeral Home in Thomson. Today (Thursday), Sgt. McCoy will be laid to rest at Savannah Valley Memorial Gardens near Thomson.
I've been sad since learning the news about his death.
I have reflected often over the past several days what his family must be going through. I can't imagine. But I sympathize with them.
Sgt. McCoy was married to Tabitha Moore McCoy - a lady totally dedicated and supportive of her husband. He was the father of twins, Landen and Ryley McCoy, who will celebrate their fourth birthday on June 28.
This past Sunday was a special time for those of us who are fathers. For it was a day that is set aside to honor us as Dads - a day called "Father's Day.) As I spent a little time reflecting on the years with my son, David and stepson, Daniel, I couldn't help but think about Sgt. McCoy and the fact that he didn't get that same opportunity - nor will he ever again.
It deeply saddened me.
He was far too young to have lost his life in such a way. Sgt. McCoy has now departed this life for a new one - one that is free of a hostile environment. It is a most sacred place - a place called Heaven.
I will forever remember Sgt. Steve McCoy, because he was truly an American hero and heroes should never be forgotten!