Knoxville (WVLT) - Specialist Michael Rodriguez lost his life fighting in Iraq. He was 20 years old.
Friday night, his family, friends and church community remember their young loved one by celebrating the life that he lived.
Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel takes a look at the love that Specialist Michael Rodriguez left behind.
A solider loses his life, and our hearts become heavy. It's time like this that may test our patriotism and our faith. But for the Rodriguez family, their hearts are filled with happiness and hope because they know Michael's faith has led him home.
"Michael fought the good fight," student pastor Chuck Morris said.
He made his nation proud," said Commander D. Hiller from Central High School A family with heavy hearts who miss a loved one's zest for life.
"Every time you saw his smile, you couldn't help but smile... smile back at him," friend Joshua Hudgens said.
Now he's smiling down on them...
"He was above all, a soldier of the cross," Morris said.
A soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"Perhaps that shouldn't surprise us because it was Michael's nature to give everything he had at all times," Morris said.
His selfless actions make him shine in the hearts of many.
"He will always be a hero to me and everyone else," brother Georgie Rodriguez said.
"When his country called, Michael answered that call, he was not a coward, he did not shrink in the day of battle, he was a mighty warrior," pastor Tony Crisp from Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church said.
"He died helping others and his country," Rodrigez said.
"How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished," Crisp said. "Michael Rodriguez is home"
"God Speed, Michael," Hiller said.
Specialist Rodriguez went to Central High School. He calls Knoxville home, but his family now lives in North Carolina.