Tragedy struck during what was supposed to be routine training for a soldier.
“Definitely our hero,” said Joy Plant.
Joy can’t help but well up with pride when she speaks about her son Seth Plant, a U.S. Army staff sergeant from St. Augustine.
Seth, 30, was killed by a bear at his base in Alaska during training, Tuesday.
“He would tell you he’s the favorite child,” said Joy.
Seth is the only boy and the youngest out of three siblings. His family said he knew just how much he was loved.
“He was the life of the party. He’s loved by everybody in the community, in his family, in the military,” said Joy.
Seth’s uncle, veteran Barry Carlton, said his nephew always knew he wanted to serve his country.
“He wanted to do everything I did, and he followed in my footsteps and joined the army, became a paratrooper,” said Carlton. “Ten years after I was in Afghanistan, he went to Afghanistan, and he served honorably.”
Seth’s family said he spent 12 years in the army after serving a year in Afghanistan and spending the better part of the past year in Alaska.
His sister said he was an outdoorsman who loved spending time in the Last Frontier.
“Just being outside all the time, he’d sit out there and just sit around, have a glass of Bourbon and smoke a cigar,” said Gini Solano.
Carlton said his nephew dreamed of becoming a member of the elite special forces, the Green Berets, and he was well on his way.
But then, his family received the news every loved one dreads.
“You never know what that feeling’s like until you see those military men standing in front of you and telling you things that you don’t want to hear,” said Joy.
Joy is now joining the ranks of those whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I know what other parents have gone through. I know what spouses have gone through. I feel their pain now, and it’s very devastating,” she said.
Sgt. Plant leaves behind a legacy of service, many friends and his family.
“He was a true patriot,” said Carlton.
“He has so many brothers that we couldn’t count them all,” said Joy.
A sacrifice made doing what he loved and in the service of the others.
Another soldier was injured in the attack.
Alaska wildlife troopers searched for the bear and found a den with two bear cubs, but they have yet to find the bear that did the mauling.