MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota man is believed to be the first active-duty Air Force member to die of COVID-19.

The family of 36-year-old Michael Morris says he died nearly two weeks after he tested positive for the virus at his home near his base in Italy.

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His family is still struggling to believe what happened.

“The number one thing I noticed was his smile,” Morris’ wife, Amanda recalled. They grew up in separate small Northern Minnesota towns.

A sense of service and the drive for a good life sent Michael Morris from Cass Lake into the Air Force alongside Amanda’s brother.

“He had just come home for Christmas and he calls me and says well I want to marry you,” Amanda Morris said.

For 14 years, she lived as the wife of an active-duty military member. Morris was deployed three times to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. In between deployments, he treasured the time he spent with his three kids.

“He was a great father. I never met anybody the way he fathered our kids,” she said.

From Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, they moved to Aviano, Italy as Morris made Technical Sargent. COVID restrictions sent Amanda back to Minnesota as her husband stayed on base to work.

“He got tested on the 4th of January. The positive results came out on the 6th,” Amanda Morris said.

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His slight cough turned into trouble breathing. But, Amanda said her husband was advised not to go to the hospital.

On Jan. 12 Michael Morris called an ambulance.

“It was under 10 minutes and they were on the phone with him and he was unresponsive,” Amanda Morris said.

The Air Force says it is actively investigating Morris’ death, adding that he was highly respected and will be missed by many.

“We did his services Monday and Tuesday and it was very hard,” Amanda Morris said.

She’s doing her best to stay strong for her kids, still questioning her husband’s final days.

“It’s very hard to even accept this,” she said.

There is a GoFundMe page set up to support his family.

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