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UPDATE: Vigil Set For Richwood Marine Killed in Afghanistan

A marine who recently graduated from Richwood High School was killed in Afghanistan. KTVE 10's Alanna Quillen has more on what happened, along with reaction from those who knew him.
Flags are flying at half staff at Richwood High School to honor fallen Marine and former student, Chris Grant. (Alanna Quillen, KTVE/KARD)
Flags are flying at half staff at Richwood High School to honor fallen Marine and former student, Chris Grant. (Alanna Quillen, KTVE/KARD)
 (Christopher Grant Facebook)
(Christopher Grant Facebook)
 (Richwood HS JROTC)
(Richwood HS JROTC)
 (Christopher Grant Facebook)
(Christopher Grant Facebook)
UPDATE:

The candlelight vigil for Richwood Marine Chris Grant, who was killed in Afghanistan, is set for this Saturday at 6 p.m. It will be located outside the band hall at Richwood High School on 5901 U.S. 165.

The RHS principal said funeral arrangements are pending as the military plans for a formal welcome home. A Marine will escort Grant's body to Germany, Delaware, and then finally back home to Richwood.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

RICHWOOD -- Hearts are aching in Richwood, as the town mourns a fallen marine.

Flags fly at half staff at Richwood High School after losing one of their own. Former student Chris Grant, a shining JROTC leader graduated just last year and  joined the Marines. Officials say Grant was killed Sunday when he stepped over a land mine during combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

"He was one of the best," said his former high school ROTC instructor, Sgt. Frank Kitchens. "We all know when we join the military, we may be called upon to sacrifice our lives for our country. But you don't look to it happening as soon as it did for him."

Just after graduating high school in Spring 2012, Grant joined the Marines and was sent off for basic training to Parris Island, South Carolina.

"Chris was the type of student that every principal would want to have at their school. He was a role model," said Dr. Sharilyn Loche, RHS Principal.

Sgt. Kitchens says Grant quickly became a leader, both during high school and throughout his time in the Marines.

"He loved being in the JROTC program and the discipline is provided. He thrived on that," said Kitchens.

Lance Cpl. Grant was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"He picked up stuff a lot quicker than the other cadets, so he was really what we called 'gung-ho,'" said Kitchens.

Grant came home just three weeks ago to say goodbye to friends and family, even making a stop by RHS.

"He informed us that he was going back to camp LeJeune and then off to Afghanistan," said Sgt. Kitchens.

"It really caught me by surprise because I just saw him, I just talked to him. He just gave me a hug bye," said Akeia Pearson, an RHS senior in ROTC and a former classmate of Grant's.

His friends from high school say they'll miss his laugh, and his urge to brighten everyone's day.

"If he saw you were down, he wasn't having it," said Pearson. "He was going to do whatever it took to put a smile on your face."

"He always made me smile, made me laugh," Tyrone Brown, an RHS senior who says he looked up to Grant. "Now that he's gone, I don't know now...but I'm still going to get as good as him, and be like him."

Teachers say in addition to excelling as a cadet in ROTC, he was also involved in baseball, football, track, and even choirt. Principal Loche said he could do anything he wanted after high school, but he made the choise to join the Marines.

"It was very admirable for Chris to do that," she said. "He could have gone to anywhere he wanted to, but he decided that he wanted to go and fight for his country, knowing what the circumstances might be. That took a lot."

Those who knew him say he also served as a role model for other students.

"Even though it was tragic what happened to him, Chris was happy doing what he was doing," said Pearson. "So I don't think he would want us to be scared to follow our dreams of going into the military."

"He was one of my brothers. Although we weren't blood brothers, he was still one of my brothers," said Donterius Smith, a former classmate.

Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber issued this statement: "It's a sad day at Richwood High School and our school system. We are very proud of Christopher and our prayers go out to his family."

His body will be escorted by a Marine to Germany, Delaware, and then finally back home to Richwood.

"Pray for Chris, Chris' family," said Principal Loche. "We are doing everything that we can to assist our students. We have had some students who have been in and talked to the counselors."

School leaders, family and friends are planning a candlelight vigil that's tentatively set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

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PREVIOUSLY:

OUACHITA PARISH -- A Marine and former Richwood High School student was killed in Afghanistan over the weekend.

Officials with Ouachita Parish Schools say 20-year old Chris Grant, a 2012 graduate from Richwood High School, was killed on Sunday. Officials say he had stepped on a land mine while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

He joined the Marines and was sent off for basic training in Parris Island, South Carolina right after graduating high school. He quickly became a leader and last served as a lance corporal, according to his ROTC instructor at RHS, Sgt. Frank Kitchens.

RHS staff say Grant excelled in ROTC, baseball, choir and football while in high school and served as a role model for other students. School officials say Grant was just home in Richwood three weeks ago before his departure for the Middle East.

School flags are flying at half staff today. School leaders, family and friends are planning a candlelight vigil for sometime this week, possibly on Saturday.

Lance Cpl. Grant was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
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