An Orange park soldier supporting Operation Enduring Freedom died Tuesday while in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.
Chief Warrant Officer Michael S. Duskin, 42, died from small arms fire while on foot patrol during combat operations in Chak District, Wardak Province.
Duskin was assigned to the 1st Battalion 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.
"When he was here last, we were joking," said Tony Gonyon, Duskin's childhood friend. "I was tuning his Camaro. He had his family down and everything else tuning the Camaro, and I told him, 'Dude, you look like G.I. Joe.' I mean, he looks like G.I. Joe."
Memories helped wipe the tears from Gonyon's eyes as he talked about Duskin.
"I'm going to miss my friend," he said.
Gonyon, a Navy veteran himself, recalls talking with Duskin about the risks that come with the job of protecting their country. That was the last time they talked.
"He just point blank said, he said, 'I approach it like my job.' He goes, 'It's a privilege to do the job,'" Gonyon said while crying. "Sat right there and told me."
The decorated soldier, a 1988 graduate of Middleburg High School, was six weeks into his seventh deployment of his 19-year military career.
"Whether it was an IED or the gunfire or a sniper, we don't know," Gonyon said. "Bottom line is that we've had another one of our soldiers taken away."
Duskin leaves behind his wife, 17-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, in North Carolina. He also leaves behind a 25-year-old stepson, who's also in the military.
Duskin is the fourth member of this special unit killed in action in Wardak Province since Sept. 30.
"Too many times people have forgotten it, they're living their lives around here having a good time and don't realize we're still fighting over there, and I guess we're still dying over there," said Charles Fails, a family friend.
Duskin's father, George, a decorated retired Navy pilot, said he knew what was happening when two military officers in their dress uniforms appeared at the door of their Doctor's Lake home Tuesday night.
Duskin's parents packed their car Thursday and were driving to Fort Bragg. They said their son's body will arrive at Dover Air Force Base on Thursday night.
Duskin's stepson, who's stationed in Germany, is escorting his body.
More than 1,000 people are expected at his funeral at Fort Bragg, which will be in the next three to seven days.
Duskin's father said the family will plan a memorial service for his son when they return.