Alex Toups called his next-door neighbor, Kyle Fayard, around noon on Saturday to invite him to hang out at Third Marsh Road in Hancock County and drink a few beers.
"I told him I was in the country doing my family Christmas stuff and told him I would talk to him that night when I got home," Fayard said.
But the next time he saw Kyle, his body was floating in the water. He said it was heartbreaking.
Farad also went with Toups' father to identify him. Fayard said he was more like a brother than a friend.
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"We hung out every day," he said.
About a month ago, Fayard and a friend gave Alex a "skin-tight fade" haircut in his bathroom and recorded it on video. Fayard said they loved to "give him hell."
Many Hancock High School alumni took to social media to share shock and dismay when they heard about Toups' death.
He grew up in Hancock County and graduated from Hancock High School in 2005. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school and was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., with the 82nd Airborne Infantry, former roommate Jeremy Moore said.
"He loved being a soldier, every part about it," Moore said.
As was typical in the military, most of his friends called him by his last name, even those back home.
Moore said Toups was from Lakeshore, and they grew up together and hung out with mutual friends.
Toups moved home within the last two years and joined the Army National Guard.
"After he got out of active duty, he came back down to the Coast and joined the Guard so he could be closer to his daughter," Moore said.
He and Toups were roommates until Moore moved out two weeks ago after a man was shot in the head in the complex. He said their vehicles also had been burglarized and their vehicles broken into while living there.
Moore said he was shocked to hear about Toups' death.
"It's just crazy, man," he said.
A candlelight vigil was started close to where Toups' body was found.
"You will never meet a man who served in the military prouder than Alex. He was an extremely proud American," said friend Patrick Coote. "He was a great friend. All it took was a phone call, and he would be there."
Emma McCoin, also a graduate of Hancock High, said Alex used to call her "Joe Boxer" in school and still called her that every time he saw her.
Every time McCoin talked to Toups, the conversation always turned to family.
"Nothing was more important to him than being able to be in his daughter's life, and being a great father," McCoin said. "We talked about that often."