CORDOVA, TN, US
U.S. Marine Corps
SGT, 2D BN 9TH MAR, (RCT-1, I MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
12/27/2010, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Marine Sergeant Garrett A. Misener’s family will not be able to travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware tonight — when his body is expected to return to the U.S. — because of the blizzard that struck the East Coast and forced airlines to cancel flights nationwide.
Misener, a 25-year-old Marine squad leader, died in the early morning hours Monday in Afghanistan, fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Helmand province, according to his family and the Department of Defense. The family received word of his death Sunday night because of the time difference.
Misener was born in Clovis, N.M., and when his mother Misener’s mother, Janne Zaccagnino, took him shopping in Salt Lake City for his second birthday, he dismissed the cowboy clothes in the store, Zaccagnino said. He chose the camouflage overalls.
“I had numerous conversations with him since the time he was 2,” Zaccagnino said Tuesday, returning to her home in Fayette County from a holiday trip to California. “I knew it was coming.”
At a church revival before he was old enough to attend adult worship services, Misener drew the attention of all ears once when he left the nursery to go to the restroom. He sang the hymn “I’m in the Lord’s Army” at the top of his lungs.
Her grandfather, a decorated Army colonel who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, reinforced her son’s choice, Zaccagnino said.
Jonathan Richardson, 25, of Cordova, who knew Misener since they were 12- or 13-year-olds attending Bellevue Baptist Church, was struck by Misener’s early career choice.
“He was one of the few people that knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up,” Richardson said. “He always wanted to be a Marine.”
Misener wanted to join the Marines immediately after graduating from Cordova High School in 2003, but months from turning 18, he needed his mother’s permission. Zaccagnino, 48, said she wouldn’t commit him to something she wasn’t sure he was going to like, so she gave him three tasks as conditions: Mow the lawn every other week, go on a Bellevue Baptist youth group trip and memorize the book of James in the Bible.
Their final conversation was via Facebook last Sunday, she said. Normally based in a “big mud pit covered by a tarp” in Afghanistan, her son had hiked five miles to headquarters for a memorial service and was able to use the Internet, she said. During their many conversations, her son said he was embarrassed to be thanked for serving his country, his mother said.
“He’s like, but I’m not doing this for my country,” she said. “I’m doing this for God because I believe God told me that this is what I’m supposed to do,” she said.
Zaccagnino said she was waiting to read her son’s will to learn of his wishes for his funeral arrangements.
Misener also leaves his father, Gary Misener of New Mexico, and two sisters, Anne and Jana.
“He was a Christian and he knew that God was in control,” his mother said. “That’s how in my heart I know that he is where he was supposed to be.”