Master Sgt. George A. Bannar Jr. of Orange, Va., died Tuesday after being wounded in an enemy attack in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

Bannar, 37, enlisted in the Army in 1996 as a medical specialist and was on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed. He was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) of Fort Bragg, N.C.

Friends described Bannar, a 1993 graduate of Orange County High School, as a jokester and military enthusiast who always had a smile and a “high-pitched cackle” ready.

“If you didn’t get along with George Bannar, you couldn’t get along with anybody,” said Randolph Stanley Jr., of Orange, who had known Bannar since high school. “He died doing what he loved to do.”

Bannar was involved in his high school’s JROTC program with Donald Dillon, also of Orange.

“He would give you the shirt off his back to help anybody he could,” Dillon said.

Stanley and Dillon recalled the friends fixing up Mustangs and trucks, four-wheeling their jacked-up vehicles in the mud and watching NASCAR races on Sunday afternoons at Bannar’s father’s house.

Bannar had about two years left before he could retire from the military, and Dillon said Bannar told him he wanted to get an office job after the service.

“But I don’t buy that,” Dillon said. “I just didn’t see him sitting in an office.”

Bannar volunteered for the Special Forces, worked as a free-fall instructor in Yuma, Ariz., and was considered a master parachutist.

“He always liked the excitement,” Dillon said.

Bannar received his associate’s degree in general education with a concentration in emergency medical services with honors from Fayetteville Technical Community College in 2004, and later received a bachelor’s degree from Campbell University.

He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Bannar is survived by his wife and parents, according to the Department of Defense.

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.