KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The father of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss began Saturday’s memorial service by thanking community members for their overwhelming support.

“Thank you all for coming out and honor Ryan,” said Greg Knauss, Sergeant Knauss’s father. “It is humbling for us to feel that kind of support.”

So many at the memorial told stories of who Sergeant Knauss was.

Another military member said at the podium, “Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, you were the best soldier I had the privilege of serving with. You always made coming to work a joy, and even on days when challenges abound, you always made the Army and the unit the best place on earth to be.”

He added, “your country needed you at its most dire time in Afghanistan when those who could not save themselves and needed the best of America’s warfighters and you answered the call.”

Many talked about his work ethic and drive. Others who came remembered Sergeant Knauss when he was just a teenager, playing football on the same field the memorial was held on.

“My nephew, Joshua Burns, played football with Staff Sgt. Knauss,” said Jody Burns. “I got to know him a little bit through the ball game.”

Burns said they knew him as a prankster and high school kid.

“They use to play paintball together and Staff Sgt. Knauss would freeze the paintball itself and then they would go out in the field and play paintball.”

Others at the podium described him as confident and a natural talent.

“You were a fierce friend. You were always the right person for the job.”

September 11th is a day of remembrance for our county, he said.

“Let’s not be defined by the days that bring shadows like what happened 20 years ago or three weeks ago,” he added. “We need to hear that the good Ryan did is being echoed out and carried on.”