Garrett Knowlan

Maj. Garrett Knowlan was a driven individual. He was an avid soccer player growing up, and it was during a family trip to Colorado for a tournament that the Jackson native found his professional calling in the U.S. Air Force.

Last month Knowlan died while participating in an Air Force training exercise in Pensacola, Fla. After landing in the water as part of the drill, he was hit by a military vessel. Knowlan was 32.

Losing a child is something no parent should have to endure. Circumstances surrounding Knowlan's death are particularly tragic. But it's the impact Knowlan had on so many, and the gracious spirit of his family, that brings us to this editorial.

Jack Knowlan, Garrett's father, told the Southeast Missourian recently that his son had a giving spirit.

"Garrett was the type who would try to help someone he saw was in trouble," Knowlan said in an Oct. 28 story that appeared in this paper. "Even while growing up, he treated everybody equally. He was competitive but also compassionate. He was well liked because of that."

Knowlan added that while his son will be missed by many, the family chooses not to be angry.

"I think what happened was an accident," Knowlan said. "Somebody made a mistake, but becoming angry and pointing fingers won't bring Garrett back."

His parents find comfort in their faith and the spiritual maturity of their son. After the accident, Megan Knowlan, Garrett's wife, gave his parents her husband's Bible. One of the underlined passages was Philippians 1: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

We offer our prayers and extend our deepest condolences to the Knowlan family. May we all learn from the grace you've shown and the life Maj. Garrett Knowlan lived.

The Knowlan Family Memorial Fund has been established to help Knowlan's wife and two children. If you would like to make a donation, it should be made payable to the Knowlan Family Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 363, Jackson, Mo., 63755.