FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — People are remembering an American soldier who went to high school in Fayetteville and will soon be laid to rest in Texas after dying while serving in a peacekeeping mission.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Garza was piloting a helicopter when it crashed in Egypt last week.
Family friend Vanessa Iacovone said he made friends around the world with his infectious personality.
“Everywhere he’d go he left an imprint to somebody, it didn’t matter where he was in the world,” Iacovone said. “He was like a magnet; everybody wanted to be around him.”
She says Garza was a natural leader who went after his goals, never forgot where he came from, and went out of his way to make others feel important.
“He never looked at you as beneath him,” Iacovone said. “You were always equal or he always put somebody on a pedestal.”
Iacovone went to 71st High School in Fayetteville with Garza.
“Even in high school when we were seniors he would give people rides home that were walking,” Iacovone said.
Garza and four other Americans were killed when the helicopter crashed Thursday.
“Knowing Dallas he would have done everything and anything to try to save anybody’s life if he could.”
Iacovone and her husband served in Afghanistan with Garza in 2009 and 2010.
She remembers what it was like flying with him.
“You became his friend after that flight,” Iacovone said. “Even if it was a 15 minute flight, you became a part of him, or a piece of him became part of you.”
The remains of the 34-year-old father of three were brought back to Dover Air Force Base Monday.
“I can honestly say Dallas lived his life; he lived it to the fullest.”
Garza’s parents served in the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg.
His brother currently serves in the Navy.
For anyone looking to honor Garza in some way, his family requests people send holiday care packages to troops serving overseas.