Altavista Native Killed in Afghanistan

Reporter: Parker Slaybaugh

Lynchburg, VA - Family and friends of an Altavista Marine killed in Afghanistan are grieving, after Staff Sgt. Greg Copes was one of two Marines killed Friday.

"He knew it was dangerous, but it was part of what he did, and part of what he was," said William Copes, Greg Copes's younger brother.

It happened in the western Afghan province of Farah, when an Afghan police officer turned his gun on the two Marines, according to the Associated Press.

Having deployed in January, Copes, 36, was set to come home next month.

His brothers say they had already began planning a get-together when their brother returned to the States. They say they hope their brother's death causes people to realize that freedom comes with a price.

"Freedom isn't free, it does come with a price. I am thankful that men and women out there, like my brother, choose to serve, said Earl Copes, Greg Copes' older brother.

Earl Copes works as a firefighter in Lynchburg and volunteers at a fire department in Altavista. Friday morning on his way to work, he heard about a shooting in Afghanistan on the radio.

"To myself I said a little prayer, hoping that he was safe and okay, not knowing that later on that day I would receive the call," said Earl Copes.

Greg Copes graduated from Hargrave Military Academy in 1994 and Longwood University in 1999. He was an avid outdoorsman and also loved music and sports.

"He always loved to go out and throw the football and stuff," said Earl Copes.

William Copes, much like his two older brothers, makes a living serving others. He says his brother knew from a young age that he wanted to serve in the military.

"Growing up we played Army running through the woods," said William Copes.

The events of September 11, 2001 caused the staff sergeant to officially enlist in the Marine Corp. He served all over the world, including tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He wanted me to come see him when he got home. He wanted to get together with everybody in the family. He was a great man and he will be greatly missed," said William Copes as he recalled his last conversation with his brother.

Greg Copes also leaves behind a wife and four kids, ranging from six months to six years old.

He will be buried in Altavista with his mother, but service arrangements have not yet been made.