Drew Valley resident Greg Haskell remembers Alexander Povilaitis as a leader, "the kind of man who did what he did so you and I could live our lives in freedom and without fear."
Povilaitis, 47, a U.S. Army staff sergeant, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, according to Fox5 Atlanta.
Haskell and Povilaitis went to school together, first at the long-since-closed Skyland Elementary School, and then at . Haskell enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, while Povilaitis went into the Army.
The two classmates reconnected after their tours were over when both men were working in the construction business.
"Alex told me he was going to re-enlist in 2008," Haskell said. "I told him he was crazy. He asked me, 'Would you rather that your child do it?'
"That's the kind of person he was, always paying it forward. From the first grade on, he was a leader, the kind of person we looked up to."
Povilaitis' body arrived at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport on Thursday, and Haskell said that "seeing his body come off the plane, and to see his two children and one grandchild there, was the hardest day of my life.
"He should be remembered as a hell of a man, who took care of his children and friends, and as the salt of the earth."
Visitation is set for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at . Funeral services will begin at noon. Povalitis will be buried at the Georgia National Cemetery.