Friends and family remembered the Schofield Barracks sergeant killed in a training exercise Thursday as a devoted son and soldier.
Sgt. Renardo Deshun Dukes, 26, of Pachuta, Miss. was killed while during participating in the Lightning Forge training exercise, which involves 4,000 soldiers from the 65th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
The Army did not release details on how Dukes died, but his family told Hawaii News Now that Dukes was carrying heavy equipment when he was struck by a vehicle.
A combat engineer, Dukes enlisted in the Army in August 2010. He previously served in Germany and Colorado, and moved to Schofield Barracks in December 2014. Dukes also deployed twice to Afghanistan -- in 2011 and 2013 -- serving a total of 20 months.
Friend Jeremiah York said Dukes "just always knew how to motivate people and keep them going."
"He was a really funny guy and he always left an impression on people," he added.
York, a retired Army combat engineer, remembers his time serving with Dukes in Colorado. Both men were also deployed to Afghanistan in 2013.
"He was one of the biggest mentors in anyone's life," York said.
Duke's mother, Renee, is devastated losing her only son.
"He was very smart and intelligent," she said. "I wish I could take his place you know, because that's my child."
His mother says Dukes was excited to be coming home to Mississippi next month, after being away for nearly two years. "He was supposed to come home for Christmas and he said, 'Mama, when I come, I'm coming home for your birthday,'" she said.
"We will all miss him," York said. "Rest in paradise. He was a great soldier."
The Army is investigating the incident.
In a statement Thursday, Gov. David Ige extended his condolences "to the soldier’s family, those who served alongside that soldier and the leadership of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Please join me in honoring this soldier’s service and contributions to our community and our country."