PICKENS—Folks in Pickens County are continuing to mourn the loss of Easley resident Pfc. Barrett Austin, who lost his life during an attack while serving a deployment in Afghanistan.
A Pickens High School graduate, Austin was always known for his friendly smile, according to Pickens Principal Marion Lawson.
“He was a good student,” Lawson said. “He was always friendly, always ready with a smile and was always very polite and pleasant with his peers and teachers. Barrett was just a good all-around citizen here at Pickens High.”
“As with any student, a loss is tough,” Lawson continued. “When they are in service to our country, it is more so because they are where they are because of the sacrifice that they’re willing to make. It does not surprise us that he would be one who would want to serve our country in this way.”
Pickens Mayor David Owens echoed the sentiments of Lawson.
“We’re saddened to hear what happened to Barrett,” Owens said. “We have soldiers that put their lives on the line every day and for (Austin) to pay the ultimate price to protect me and my family and all the citizens of Pickens and the United States is truly inspirational. We’re certainly proud of him, and we’ll always remember his sacrifice.”
Lawson said Austin paid the ultimate price to keep this country and his hometown safe.
“The one who is regarded as the ‘Master teacher’ said, ‘No greater love hath man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends,’” Lawson said. “That’s what our men and women in the armed services are willing to do. They understand and recognize when they enlist that they are potentially putting themselves in harm’s way, but yet they are willing to make that sacrifice in service to our country. That’s just amazing.”
Lawson said it is his school’s duty to help Austin’s family in any way possible.
“His little sister is currently a senior here and we want the family to know that we certainly love them and that we’re going to take care of Jordan throughout the remainder of the year,” Lawson. “They are certainly in our thoughts and prayers.”
Owens said he believes the community will rally around the family.
“We really want the family to know that they are in our prayers and that our thoughts are with them,” Owens said. “We’re certainly thinking about them, and I know the community will rally around the family and help them through this.”
“It’s something you can’t explain when someone sacrifices like that,” Owens said. “Our military protects so many people and we appreciate Barrett for what he’s done. We won’t forget him.”
Lawson said there is a valuable lesson of service and sacrifice to be learned from Austin.
“Students recognizing that there is a greater good in serving others—whether it be through volunteering, community involvement or something else—is an important aspect of what we try to do,” Lawson said. “That is certainly a valuable lesson learned when we see a situation like this.”
The Pickens principal said losses like this impact an entire community.
“We’ve had students who have been injured in combat situations through the years, but we’ve not had a death in a conflict situation—to my knowledge—since the Vietnam War here in the Pickens or Dacusville area,” Lawson said. “It does affect everyone and we want to be very careful to remember the Austin family in our thoughts and prayers.”