South Florida congregation reaches out to honor fallen soldier
Headed to Afghanistan, private told Boynton Beach member he’s ‘born-again’
May 25, 2012
By JONI B. HANNIGAN
Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. (FBW)—United States Army Private First Class Michael J. Metcalf was full of life when he popped into Lisa Adair’s home one day in Boynton Beach before heading to the beach with her kids.

Just a few weeks shy of his deployment to Afghanistan, the 22-year-old seemed intent on telling her he’d been “born again.” When she asked if he was sure, he smiled ‘yes’ and walked out the door.

It would be the last time Adair would see the grin of the bull-rider some affectionately nick-named “Cowboy.” 

REMEMBERING At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery May 17, Buz McNutt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, takes part in final military honors for U.S. Army Private First Class Michael J. Metcalf who was remembered as a young man who testified to a friend before leaving for Afghanistan that he had been “born again.” Courtesy photo
Metcalf was killed in Patkia, Afghanistan April 22 when he drove over a roadside bomb in a heroic attempt to rescue other members of his unit who were attacked with an improvised explosive devise (IED). He was with the 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Buz McNutt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, told more than 500 family members, friends and service members at a packed memorial service May 5 that Metcalf had declared his commitment to Christ just prior to his deployment.

“We ought to consider life after this one,” McNutt said. “If we hope to see Michael again, we must do likewise.”

McNutt, looking down at the flag-draped coffin where Metcalf body’s rested, said the Bible in the book of Thessolonians makes it clear that those who do not believe grieve as people without hope.

“It’s not that we don’t grieve,” McNutt said of Christians, “but we want to grieve as people who have hope in Christ.”

After friends shared warm stories and songs, Metcalf’s mother, Kim, was presented the Purple Heart and Bronze Star on behalf of her son. 

Adair, a longtime church member, talked about how she had prayed for the fallen soldier for years before he blurted out his new-found faith before he left for Afghanistan, McNutt recalled.

Much of Metcalf’s life was eulogized in the two-hour service at Boynton Beach and in his obituary. He was born in Coral Springs to Ceejay Metcalf and Kim. He lived in Boynton Beach with his mother but spent time in Ashtabula, Ohio visiting his father’s family. He began high school at Park Vista High School in Boynton Beach in 2004, but transferred his sophomore year to St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, after his parents divorced, and graduated in 2008. He joined the Army in March 2011 and had been in Afghanistan for only two weeks when his unit was attacked.

“He was a free-spirited person who you only needed to know a minute, but would leave you feeling like you have been a lifelong friend,” his obituary in the Star Beacon said.

A second hometown memorial service for Metcalf was May 12 at Gateway Church in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Although Metcalf was not a member of the church and had only visited a few times, the Boynton Beach church was asked to host the memorial service with full military honors for the young soldier because of Metcalf’s relationship with Adair, according to McNutt. 

The congregation had three days to “rally the forces,” McNutt said. Local restaurants chipped in to assist and an evangelical Army chaplain with Florida ties, Lt. Col. Phillip D. Sounia, facilitated the service. 

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