A 23-year-old soldier from Lincoln who dreamed of helping war orphans died in Iraq this week, his parents said.
Gary Avery said his son, Garrison Avery, was killed along with two other soldiers on Wednesday.
The Department of Defense has not officially identified the soldiers killed this week, but officials have said three soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb blast Wednesday. Those soldiers were on patrol when the bomb exploded south of Baghdad.
Avery had been stationed with the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Ky. Avery was deployed in October and stationed south of Baghdad, his father said.
Avery was a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and a 2000 graduate of Lincoln High School.
He and his wife, Kayla, were married in June. She lives in Clarksville, Tenn. He also is survived by his mother, Susan; two brothers, Clinton, 21, and Johnathan, 15; and a sister, Elizabeth, 11.
Garrison Avery started his military career in high school after getting his parents to give him permission to join the service at age 17.
After graduating from West Point, he underwent Army Ranger and sapper training and received various honors, though he rarely talked about them. Sapper training is similar to ranger training but focuses on explosives, Gary Avery said.
"He was a very modest person. If he got an award, a lot of times he didn't even wear it on his uniform," Gary Avery said. "He wasn't interested in the decorations. He was interested in the job."
As a junior at West Point, he formed a nonprofit organization he called Light by Morning to fulfill his dream of helping Iraqi orphans.
"It progressed along. So with Garrison's death, his dream is gone, too," his father said. "Hopefully, somebody will remember there are young people that are suffering over there."
Garrison Avery came from a military family; both grandfathers were in the service, and an uncle is a colonel at the Pentagon.
The family attends Trinity Baptist Church. Funeral arrangements are pending. A memorial in Fort Campbell is set for Wednesday, Gary Avery said.
"The basis for our life is the hope we have in our faith in God and Jesus," he said. "Things like this are disastrous. You have to go through the grief, anger, sobbing, nausea, chest pains. You have to talk about it. The grief process needs to be done right, otherwise it'll ruin your whole life."
Avery's parents said they plan to hold a memorial in Lincoln in about a month.