Army Pfc. Jason Meyer, of Howell, Mich., had just celebrated his first year of marriage and had plans to start a family.
Marine Pfc. Juan Garza Jr., of Temperance, Mich., was married the day after Christmas and recently graduated from high school.
On Tuesday, their families were notified they’d been killed during the war in Iraq.
Garza, 20, was killed by a sniper shot to the chest on Tuesday, his aunt said.
Meyer, 23, was killed Monday when his personnel carrier took fire, his mother-in-law said yesterday. He was based in Fort Stewart, Ga., where he lived with his wife Melissa, 20.
Meyer’s mother, Kathy Worthington of Howell said her son’s letters were always upbeat, and the last time she heard from him was a phone call from Kuwait City on Valentine’s Day.
She said the worry and fear for him came mostly from her, and he sought to reassure her of his safety.
“He was just, `Go for it and get it over with,'” she told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell. “He was always upbeat and happy. He was always a great kid.”
“He died doing what he wanted to do. He felt very strongly about the service,” said Meyer’s mother-in-law Connie Arnould of Swartz Creek.
Arnould said Meyer married her daughter on March 30, 2002, but the couple had known each other for several years through a Masonic youth group. She said Meyer also lived with her family for a time before the marriage.
Garza had planned to marry his girlfriend in 2005, his aunt Jodi Bucher of Temperance said. But the couple, who met while working together at Wendy’s, surprised everyone by getting married Dec. 26. “Spontaneity (hit) them – unbeknownst to her parents and us,” said Bucher, laughing.
Garza’s wife, Casey Cole, 19, is in the Army and is stationed near Washington, D.C., Bucher said. Garza was based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Garza graduated from Summerfield High School in 2002, and went to boot camp in July, Bucher said. He came to live with her five years ago, she said. His mother lives in San Benito, Texas.
He always wanted to be in the military, Bucher said, and planned to make a career out of it.
“He was a kid that school came very hard for, but he really wanted to be a Marine,” Bucher said. “He studied and studied and studied.”
Joe Palka, the principal at Summerfield High, said there was a moment of silence held for Garza at the school yesterday morning. He said Garza was an outgoing jokester who was well-liked by his classmates.
“He had a very engaging personality. … He was accepted into all circles. He could be friends with every group,” Palka said. He said on school spirit dress-up days, “he’d be the guy with the big cowboy boots and cowboy hat on.”
Bucher said she’ll miss Garza’s spunk and “zest for life.”
Meyer graduated from Howell High School in 1999 and joined the Army in 2001. He and his wife moved to Georgia shortly after the wedding, Arnould said.
Arnould’s brother, Steven Cousino, described Meyer as an “always happy-go-lucky, smiley kind of guy.”
“He was a great kid,” Cousino said.
Meyer worked in construction and built decks for family members, Arnould said. He loved the outdoors, including hunting, and the family often went on motorcycle trips, she said.