Slain Fort Gordon Sgt. Marni Glista was the "ultimate team player" whose spirit will live on in the hearts of her fellow soldiers, her company commander said Tuesday.
"This week has been difficult for us all," said Company A Commander Capt. David Painter during a memorial for the 21-year-old soldier who died last week after an assault in her west Augusta home.
"We mourn the loss of a dear friend and comrade," Capt. Painter told Sgt. Glista's family, including her husband, Jason, and hundreds of soldiers from the 297th Military Intelligence Battalion attending the service at Alexander Hall.
"However, our sorrow can be tempered by the knowledge and assurance that Sgt. Marni Glista is now in a much more glorious and wonderful place, serving a greater cause in a greater army," Capt. Painter said.
Sgt. Glista died Saturday morning at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, four days after she was found in her Oakridge Drive home unconscious and barely breathing. Her commanding officer and another soldier had gone to the residence when she did not report for duty Sept. 5.
The probable cause of death was lack of oxygen, according to Richmond County Sheriff Charles Webster. Investigator Wayne Bunton's report states that Sgt. Glista was "suffering from a variety of injuries."
During Tuesday's service, a weeping Spc. Maryorie Arroyo described Sgt. Glista as her best friend.
"At work, she showed me that no matter where I came from I was as smart as the rest of the people here," Spc. Arroyo said. "Even when no one else understood the way I spoke, she always understood me. And when we couldn't communicate by words, we did it with our own version of sign language."
Spc. Arroyo described Sgt. Glista as a hard worker.
"But in a personal way, she was even better," Spc. Arroyo said. "She always proved she was my best friend, no matter what. She would help me with everything I need ... and my son have everything he needs to go to school every day."
Sgt. Glista, a Seattle native, was an imaging analyst for the 297th Battalion. She joined the Army in 1997. After basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced individual training at Fort Lee, Va., she was assigned in 1998 to the 297th at Fort Gordon, where she worked in the dining facility.
She married Jason Glista, a member of the 297th Battalion at Fort Gordon, in 1998. She recently graduated from the imagery analysis course at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and was reassigned to Fort Gordon.
After the ceremony, Capt. Painter described Sgt. Glista as one of the company's best soldiers with lots of dreams. He called her death "tragic."
"And maybe we'll never understand why it happened, but I have faith in the Richmond County Sheriff's Department and the detectives. They'll see that justice is done. All we can do is concentrate on the family and on the soldiers here to see that we get through this together."
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228.
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