LAKE GEORGE -- A Lake George native and U.S. Army soldier has died in combat in Afghanistan.
The family of Benjamin D. Osborn said he was killed Tuesday while serving in the Army in Afghanistan. He was a 2002 graduate of Lake George High School and had been living in Clarksville, Tenn.
The U.S. Department of Defense announces military casualties but would not confirm the death on Wednesday. A department official said it takes two to four days from the time of the death until a press release becomes public.
Osborn's father, William Osborn, said his son joined the service three years ago and left on a tour of Afghanistan in April.
Benjamin Osborn volunteered to go into the Army, his parents said.
"They were being ambushed, and Ben volunteered to be the gunner," said his mother, Beverly Osborn. "He was a true hero, and he volunteered to do that."
"He stood up to the face of danger," said William Osborn. "He was a brave soldier."
The Osborns haven't been able to sleep since 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, when their daughter-in-law called to tell them their son was dead.
"They knocked on her door," William Osborn said, "at a quarter of 12 at night. Needless to say, she was devastated."
At 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the Osborns got a separate knock on their door from the service, confirming what they already knew.
"We were braced for them when they came this morning," William Osborn said. "We're a little frazzled at the moment."
William Osborn couldn't stop sobbing Wednesday as he spoke about his son and how he was an upbeat young man ready to lend a hand.
"He wanted to serve his country," William Osborn said. "He wanted to go in and make a difference. Any life he touched, he made a difference."
Benjamin Osborn is survived by his parents, an older sister and three older brothers. He had just gotten married in February to Nicole LaPier, a 2005 South Glens Falls High School graduate. She is attending the University of Arizona but has been living at the military base in Clarksville.
William Osborn said his son had nine nieces and nephews, but no children of his own.
"And that's a crime, because he was so good with the kids," Osborn said between sobs. "They loved when Uncle Ben came around."
He said his son tried college after graduating from Lake George, but it wasn't for him.
"It didn't sit well with him," he said. "He was too restless I think."
Before Benjamin joined the military, he spent time in North Carolina and worked for the Adirondack Resource Management Company, his parents said.
Beverly said her son had a wonderful sense of humor and was beloved by his friends and family. The parents said they'll likely meet with Benjamin's wife in Dover, Del. when his body is returned to the family, but they don't know how they will proceed from there.
The flags at Fort William Henry in Lake George and the Lake George Central School District were lowered Wednesday to mourn Osborn's death.
Francis Cocozza, principal at Lake George High School, said the staff at the district remembers Benjamin fondly.
"It's a difficult time for us, and we are coming together as a community," Cocozza said.
At The Lobster Pot in Lake George on Wednesday evening, customers paid respects to Benjamin Osborn, who had worked at the eatery before he joined the service. At 4:30 p.m., about five people were at the restaurant, Lake George Supervisor Frank McCoy said.
McCoy said Benjamin worked a summer as a bartender at the restaurant, which is owned by Town Board member Scott Wood. After that summer, Benjamin joined the service, McCoy said.
Back then, he was working as a food salesman, McCoy said, and would help out at Wood's restaurant.
"He (Osborn) was an awful good kid, awful nice guy," McCoy said.
Wood released a statement on Wednesday on behalf of the restaurant: "With great sadness we today learned of the death of Ben Osborn. From all of us at the Lobster Pot Restaurant, our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to Ben's wife, family and close friends," it says. "Each day he brought smiles and fun to his work.
"We know Ben was abroad fighting to bring freedom to that embattled region. His sacrifice will not be in vain."