Friends, family honor life and sacrifices of Staff Sgt. Stephen New | News
BARTLETT, TN- (WMC-TV) - The Mid-South remembered a fallen hero Saturday afternoon. Friends and family showed up to honor Staff Sergeant Stephen New's life and sacrifices in an emotional memorial service at Faith Baptist Church.
Staff Sgt. New was killed July 28 during an attack on his unit in Kabul Province, Afghanistan, where he was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 20th special forces group out of Jackson, Mississippi.
Two of New's former roommates took to the podium to share their favorite memories of their good friend and brother, describing him as "intelligent" and "out of control in all the best ways".
"He was extremely intelligent," said New's good friend and roommate, Drew Joyner. "I can remember times when I found out I knew something that he didn't, and I would just gloat in the moment to his face, briefly thinking to myself, 'So this is what it feels like to be the smartest guy in the room for once.'"
He continued, "Stephen was rough around the edges to say the least, he was a mess. He didn't sweat the small stuff. He would laugh about trivial things such as cleaning out his car, his room, cutting the grass, or not washing his whites and his colors together. But all of these are some of the funniest things about him."
Joyner remembers New for being the kind of man who blazed his own trail, citing one of his friend's favorite quotes, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
"That is how he lived his life, much of the time, doing things the hard way," added Joyner.
In addition to loving life, New's friends describe him as a man who loved God and was not hesitant to share his faith with others.
"God was able to use him as a voice and as a vessel to people," said New's friend and former roommate, Steve McCorkle. "There's somebody right now out there, that will forever be touched by a single solitary moment with Stephen. And that's a beautiful thing."
McCorkle said his friend died protecting people because he believed in humanity.
"I have a tremendous peace knowing that as it says in 2 Corinthians, 5:8, 'We are confident that he is away from his body, but he is at home with the Lord.'"
New's pastor, who baptized him in 2003, approached the podium to give a touching sermon about the fallen soldier's life and said on several occasions that he often saw God in Stephen.
"He had an incredible impact on my life, I thought it was supposed to be the other way around, but God used him to change me," he said. "I began seeing little glimpses of God in Stephen's life."
And just as Stephen's friends mentioned earlier in the service, his pastor also touched on the "crazy" and "wild things" he did.
"But I loved him so much and little glimpses of God in Stephen were his love, were his humanity, was his compassion, his generosity. And finally, was his sacrifices."
New's friends described his last moments on Earth, recognizing him as a hero who loved what he was doing.
"Stephen died a hero while working on two of his fellow soldiers who were wounded by small arms fire. He went out serving others and doing what he loved," said Joyner. "Very few of us are ever given such honorable circumstances."
He concluded, "You're going to be terribly missed. Stephen, you were, are, and always will be a great part of my life. No one will ever be able to fill your shoes, and I will always be grateful for the influence you had on me. You are loved brother. So in stealing your typical parting phrase, fare thee well, friend."
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