Wilson Co. airman died serving country he loved so much - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Wilson Co. airman died serving country he loved so much

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LEBANON, TN (WSMV) -

The body of a United States airman who died overseas earlier this month has returned home to Middle Tennessee.

1st Lt. Joshua Hovies, 26, died April 19 during an underwater training accident in South Korea.

Hovies called Lebanon home, and his family is remembering him as a young man who was full of life.

He loved America, perhaps more so because he didn't grow up here. He spent the first 13 years of his life in Thailand, where his parents worked as missionaries.

Hovies died after what his parents call a shallow water blackout. He was in training, hoping to join an elite special forces unit, and passed out while holding his breath.

"He was hoping to be a commando," said mother Alicia Hovies. "They were practicing doing an underwater long-distance swim."

Hovies' younger brother, Ben Hovies, idolized him and always wanted to be like his big brother. Like his brother, Ben Hovies joined the military and is now a Marine.

"Everything he wanted to do, I wanted to do, because he wanted to do it," Ben Hovies said. "Josh lived life. He lived life to the fullest. He lived a life of Christ. He was an outstanding Christian. He was an outstanding officer. He was an outstanding gentleman."

Joshua Hovies loved life, his family says, and to honor his memory, he would want others to live life with purpose.

"It is important for people to know that freedom isn't free, they love his country and they appreciate the freedoms that they have here," said father Tom Hovies.

The Patriot Guard helped escort the airman's remains from the Nashville International Airport to the Wilson County Funeral Home in Lebanon.

He will be honored with a full military funeral Saturday.

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