Gwinnett County soldier to be laid to rest Monday - CBS46 News

Gwinnett County soldier to be laid to rest Monday

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Etienne J. Murphy Etienne J. Murphy
GWINNETT COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Family and friends will say goodbye Monday to the Gwinnett County soldier killed on May 26 while serving a tour of duty in Syria.

Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, 22, died in Al-Hasakah, Syria on Friday, May 26 after sustaining injuries during a rollover crash.

Murphy, from Loganville, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia. He was a graduate of South Gwinnett High School and leaves behind a wife and two sons.

Murphy was killed during his first deployment, just two weeks after leaving for Syria and days after celebrating his 22nd birthday.

On Memorial Day, the streets of Gwinnett County were lined with hundreds of markers and flags representing military men and women. Next year, one of those markers may don the name of Murphy.

"This is a person who joined the military to literally to become a soldier, defend the United States of America, defend our freedoms and to fight for us."

With his fiance by his side, Calvin Murphy opens up about his younger brother. Although it's an unimaginable loss, Calvin finds peace in knowing that his brother was living out his life-long dream.

"Understanding that it wasn't in vain, that helps me cope a lot," says Calvin Murphy.

The youngest of three brothers, Etienne grew up with an interest in all things military.

"He always had army action figures," says Calvin Murphy. "He was a big fan of GI Joe when we grew up so we noticed that."

After the family moved from Boston to Georgia in 2004, Etienne joined the JROTC program at South Gwinnett High School. Calvin said it was then that the family began to take his military interest seriously.

"We asked him, hey, is this something you want to do now because we see that you're just excelling in it so quickly and so effortlessly," says Calvin Murphy.

And it wasn't just honors he was picking up. Etienne met his future wife, Martha, in JROTC as well. After graduation he joined the army. And just two weeks ago, he left for Syria on his first deployment.

"I talked to him and I said, 'Hey bro, you sure you want to do this,' and he said, 'Of course, what do you think I do this for?' That's when I was like if you're ready for it then I have to be ready for it too," says Calvin Murphy.

But tragedy would strike soon after that conversation. Calvin said his fiance delivered the devastating news to him when he awoke out of surgery for a hand injury.

"I was hoping that I was just coming out of the surgery and that it was just something I was dreaming about," he said. 

Instead he's living a harsh reality, but trying to be strong for his hero.

"I look at my brother as a warrior so for him to do what he did was the most honorable thing he could do. There are soldiers like my brother who actually go over there and actually are fighting for that exact reason, without hesitation, without being told to, and they do it for us. That's what I want people to remember Etienne Murphy for," says Calvin Murphy.

Calvin said the outpouring of support they've received since Etienne's death has been overwhelming and helps them cope.

The family has set up a gofundme account, here.

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