Ever since he was a boy, Garrett Carnes had every reason to want to be a Marine. The biggest reason was his father, John, who admittedly steered his son in the direction of military service.
"He felt that calling," said John Carnes. Fighting back tears Wednesday, Carnes added, "He is just a very driven individual."
Garrett will need to reach back on that drive and a competitive spirit, fortified by years as a star high school athlete, to overcome his greatest battle yet. Garrett was badly hurt while serving in Afghanistan last weekend.
"He stepped on an IED and lost both of his legs," said John Carnes. "To think he lost his legs and not to see him run around like he did ... it just kills me."
Garrett's mother, Rhonda, said getting the news was like a nightmare that has yet to end.
"We thank God he's alive and coming back to us, but it's a lot to take," Rhonda said.
The news was also a devastating blow to Courtney Carnes, Garrett's 21-year-old wife.
"I don't think I've reconciled anything. I'm just kind of breathing and surviving right now," said Courtney. "(Seeing Garrett) is going to be overwhelming. I'll be so glad to touch him, hold him and know that he's finally safe."
Garrett's wife and parents aren't the only ones eagerly anticipating his return home on Friday. Neighbors and friends all over Mooresville have put ribbons on their doors and light posts. The Carnes' family says it's also been overwhelmed by support on Facebook from people all over the world.
"People we don't even know are getting in touch with us, and it's beautiful," said Rhonda Carnes. "It just means so much to us."