Lawrenceville native dies training for marathon

LAWRENCEVILLE - Funeral services will be held Wednesday for a Lawrenceville native who served two tours of duty in Iraq.

Sgt. Andy Haney died Saturday in Nashville while training for a marathon.

Haney, 29, collapsed and died after running 11 miles in preparation for the Country Music Marathon. He had complained of leg cramps while walking to his car following the run, The (Nashville) Tennessean newspaper reported.

Haney's mother, Mary Campbell Haney, said her son had not been sick nor complained of any ailments and was in excellent physical condition.

"He ran, he biked, he went to the gym several times a week," Mary Haney said.

Haney's autopsy results had not been released by press time.

Haney graduated from Central Gwinnett High School in 1996 and enlisted in the Army the following November.

"He played Army as a little boy all the time," Mary Haney said. "He told me, 'I know this is what I want to do.'"

Haney trained as an Arabic translator and a paramedic, then completed Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, N.C. He served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Green Beret.

"He said he could tell that Iraq had at one time been a pretty country and that the Iraqi people were awfully nice," Mary Haney said. "He had been extremely happy the whole time he was in the military, but he wanted to finish college."

Haney earned numerous awards and commendations during his years of service, including the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal. After completing his second tour of duty, Haney enlisted in an Alabama reserve unit and enrolled at Nashville State Technical Community College. He was scheduled to take the employment test for the Nashville Fire Department this week.

"He was planning to become a paramedic or a nurse," said Richard Deaner, Haney's friend since high school. "He wanted to do something in the medical field."

In high school, Haney found his place as a wrestler.

"He told me that basic training was easier than Coach (David) Landis' wrestling class," Mary Haney said. "He liked wrestling because it was a one-on-one thing, he didn't have to depend on someone else, and he had control over what he was doing - like the military."

Haney's wrestling career and military service required similar skills and mind sets, Landis said.

"He enjoyed the wrestling," Landis said. "He was a great kid, he worked hard and was fun to be around. To be prepared to go out on the mat, he had to be physically and mentally ready because it was just him and the other guy. It's the same aspect with Special Forces - it's just him and the enemy."

Haney and Deaner spent two weeks backpacking through Europe one summer. He remembers most Haney's laughter and engaging personality.

"We had the same sense of fun and he was fun to hang around with," Deaner said. "He was a jokester. He could make you laugh, even when you were mad at him."

The family will receive friends at Wages Funeral Home, 120 Scenic Highway in Lawrenceville, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Lawrenceville. Interment will follow at Gwinnett Memorial Park with full military honors. The family asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation at www.specialops.org in memory of Andy Haney.