KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox Connect Church and the Air National Guard teamed up to honor church member and veteran Gabriel Griffin, 39, for the church's first Veterans Day service.
Pastor Rocky Smith said the church wanted to make sure they honored his memory by raising the flag.
"He was one of the most patriotic people I have ever known, to be able to come here and be able to raise a flag for the first time in his honor for Veterans Day, I couldn't have asked for a better thing to do to honor him," said Josh Bruglio fellow Air National Guard serviceman.
Gabriel and Bruglio met when they served in the same unit together in Iraq in 2010.
"He was the type of person that would change the room in a split second," said Bruglio. "If we were down about something, he was the one that would bring the morale up."
Bruglio recalled Gabriel always being there for his troops.
"It didn't matter how little or how big, he was there to fulfill that role and to mentor the younger airmen, bring them up," said Bruglio. "It's an amazing legacy that we are trying to live up to now and do the best we can in his honor."
Pastor Smith said this was the best way to spend the church's first Veterans Day service.
"He made a mark in our hearts and each and every person that he touched they'll never forget him," said Smith.
Gabriel is survived by his wife Jessica Griffin and daughter Berkley.