Marine from Tucker dies in Afghanistan

As a child, John Franklin Wimpey Cagle was full of energy and extremely loyal, his former youth pastor said Friday. That fierce loyalty to family and friends made him an ideal candidate for the Marines.

Now, the 19-year-old is being mourned and remembered for his huge heart. Lance Cpl. Cagle died this week while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.

Cagle, of Tucker, died Sept. 28 in Helmand province, military officials said. He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The details surrounding Cagle's death have not yet been determined, a military spokesman told the AJC.

Adam Barker, who served as Cagle's youth pastor for several years at Pleasantdale Church of God, said he was shocked to learn of the Marine's death. Barker, now of Macon, said as a young boy Cagle had a unique personality that set him apart.

Since learning of his death, Barker said many friends have posted stories honoring Cagle on his Facebook page. Friend Jalisa Stewart told the AJC that Cagle died living his dream.

"He was a very excited child," Barker said. "He had a lot of energy and was extremely loyal to other kids."

Barker said it was hard to deter Cagle, a 2010 graduate of Chamblee Charter High School in DeKalb County. Cagle participated in JROTC while in high school and joined the Marines after graduation.

"No matter what you did, it never got him down," Barker said. "He always was in a good mood. Always encouraging.”

Sometimes, Cagle's energy was hard to contain, Barker said. One time, Barker said he told a rambunctious Cagle to sit in the hall so he wouldn't cause a disruption to the youth group.

Cagle followed the order, but stood outside the door and peered through the window. When the youth group sang a song, complete with hand motions, Cagle followed along, Barker said. Through the glass, he watched Cagle singing and moving his arms, not letting his punishment stop him.

Cagle lived with his mother and brother in a neighborhood on the dividing line between DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.

Longtime neighbors, including Gilbert Archuleta, told Channel 2 Action News that Cagle's family members were in Dover, Del., awaiting the Marine's body. Funeral arrangements had not been announced Friday afternoon.

"I didn't expect it to hit me so hard, I was in tears myself," Archuleta said. "I couldn't even begin to imagine the loss."