FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Officials are investigating the death of a paratrooper after he was found unresponsive Saturday in his Fort Bragg barracks room.
Meanwhile, his parents in Utah struggle to believe their son will never come home.
Spc. David M. Gannon, 34, of West Jordan, was found unresponsive Saturday evening and later pronounced dead, according to the 82nd Airborne Division. The cause of death is under investigation.
"(He) was an exceptional paratrooper and an integral member of our team," Lt. Col. Praxitelis N. Vamvakias, Gannon's battalion commander, said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends; we will never forget him."
Gannon's body will be brought to Utah on Friday by military escort, and full military honors will be provided at his burial, his father said.
Gannon's parents, Mike and Pat Gannon, were attending church Sunday when their daughter came to find them, informing them that two military representatives were waiting at their home. The Army chaplain and another soldier gave heartfelt condolences for David Gannon's death, but didn't have many answers.
"It was heard to breathe, hard to think, hard to consider that what they were telling us was the truth because we had just spoken to him a few days ago," Mike Gannon said. "We had planned a little vacation here in a couple of months, and we thought everything was, you know, in order."
David Gannon enlisted later in life, joining the Army in February 2011, and was was proud to finally be a soldier, his parents said. He completed a five-month tour in Afghanistan in 2012 and was preparing for a second deployment.
"He did believe in what he was doing in Afghanistan," Mike Gannon said, noting that his son always felt protective of the children he met. "He was there at a time when there wasn't a lot of fighting or a lot of shooting. They were more on patrols to find ammunition and weapons, and secure villages."
After his death, David Gannon was awarded the the Army Commendation Medal with an oak leaf cluster and the Army Good Conduct Medal.
Pat Gannon reminisced how her son, born on Feb. 14, was her Valentine. Growing up, he was a smart and independent student, an upbeat friend and loved spending time with his siblings and cousins.
She has been saving a voice mail her son left on her birthday in March, just to hear his sincere words of love and gratitude. It means even more now, she said.
David Gannon was unfailingly kind, his father said, ending every conversation the two had with, "I love you, Dad," including their last.
Contributing: Stephanie Grimes