'He was the light in the dark': Lawrenceville Marine remembered as mentor

Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan Gierke began his military career at Collins Hill High School in Lawrenceville as an ROTC cadet.

The 19-year-old was killed while on active duty in North Carolina earlier this week. His former classmates are honoring him as the community is left broken.

"He was probably one of the best mentors I had," said Sabrina Arnett, a classmate of Gierke. "He was the light in the dark for almost everybody in our group."

Jonathan E Gierke (Courtesy of MCCS Recruit Photo at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island)

Arnett says Gierke mentored her through the process after she joined the ROTC program.

"He was my training officer, in my first year in the program. He taught me everything I really needed to know to be where I was when I graduated," she told FOX 5. "Overall, he was an amazing person. He always made me smile even if I was upset."

Police say the military truck Gierke was riding in lost control and overturned while making a turn. Private First Class Zachary W Riffle of West Virginia was also killed.

Zachary W Riffle (Courtesy of MCCS Recruit Photo at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island)

While a roadside vigil was put up in honor of Gierke and Riffle, tributes in Lawrenceville have been pouring in.

"He was dedicated. He didn’t take the, he didn’t say no if our instructors asked him to do something he would say, ‘Of course Sir, I’m on it right now.’"

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp offered condolences to Gierke's family in a statement, saying in part, "He and his family are in our hearts as we join in mourning his passing."