An eastern Iowa native is mourned in his hometown today.

Army Sergeant James Musack was killed Tuesday in Iraq. The 23-year-old Musack had grown up in the Washington County town of Riverside, though after he graduated in 2002 his mother moved away.

Nick Smith, his former English teacher at Highland Riverside High School, learned of Musack’s death the day before Thanksgiving. “I heard the news this morning as I was getting ready for school,” he says. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Stepbrother Reggie Grandstaff, the one family member still living in eastern Iowa, says Musack was his hero. “He was a great brother, great friend,” Grandstaff says. “No matter what he did, he was great at it: basketball, football, the Army, being a brother, being a friend. It didn’t matter, he was great.”

The funeral’s still being planned and is expected to be held at the Highland Riverside High School or at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Riverside.