Lake City, Anderson County (WVLT) - A tough good-bye is ahead for the entire community of Lake City.
Just weeks after visiting home, First Sergeant David Connell has died, fighting in Iraq.
As Jim Freeman reports, one of the best is gone, but his memory will never be forgotten.
You don't have to go very far in a small town to get a background check.
"When a bunch of boys gathered together, you know that something good or bad could be happening. But if you saw David in that group, you didn't sweat it, because you knew nothing bad was going to happen,” says former Lake City High School Principal Gene Wright.
He was that kind of person, that kind of soldier, that kind of family man.
"He was made of good timber. You didn't find 'em any better,” says Wright. “There's a large hole occurred in Lake City. A big tree has fallen."
It's been a day when former classmates thumbed through old annuals looking for more memories of the pal they called Tiger.
Others called him David or Sarge or Daddy.
"His children were first every minute that he had free here. He was with his family, his mother, his children, his brothers and sister,” says Lake City Middle school Principal Jan Moore.
Two weeks ago to the day, he spent his last full day at home speaking to students at his old school where two of his children attend.
"Brian and Courtney are extremely proud of their father and were very excited to have him here and let the students see who their father is and what he does,” says sixth grade teacher Denise Coday.
"You know their father was a hero and a role model for all of us,” adds Moore.
With a background check like Sergeant David Connell's, there's bound to be higher ground ahead.
"And then when the Almighty called. He said ‘reporting for duty, sir. David Connell, Christian,’" says Wright.
Connell, a 19-year-veteran, is Lake City's first fallen soldier in this war and was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.
As soon as Sergeant David Connell's funeral arrangements complete, we will post them here on our website.
If you’d like to leave your thoughts and remembrances of David Connell, or your prayers or messages for the family, please feel free to use the comment section below.