Family members were told Thursday morning that Christopher Wright, a 2005 graduate of Lewis County High School, had died in Iraq.
"When the military guys came in, they didn't have to say anything;" explained James King, who works at Tollesboro Supply Company, a store owned by Wright's father, Joe Cochran.
King says he's worked for Cochran for years and watched Wright turn into a man everyone loved and adored.
"People have been coming to the store all day, just to say they're sorry for the loss."
Flags all over the small community of Tollesboro are flying at half-staff in Wright's honor. But those who knew him say he always wanted to be in the military and was a hero to his younger step-brothers.
"Oh, he was their idol!" King Said.
King says this was his second tour of duty and he was anxious to come home.
"When you see Joe and them, it'll look like something is missing," he explained.
According to reports, Wright died on an operating table after getting hit with a piece of shrapnel in the chest.