Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Erik S McCrae

Portland, Oregon

June 4, 2004

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army 1st Lt

2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, headquartered

Cottage Grove, Oregon

Died in Baghdad, Iraq, when individuals using improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades attacked their convoy.

Click Photo Below For Some Memorial Service Snapshots

June 18, 2004

1st Lt. Erik S. McCrae 
Death Notice
Erik S. McCrae tried to look beyond the violence in Iraq, describing to his wife encounters with children and visits to old buildings. "When he''d call me from Iraq, he''d always mention how they talked with school children and handed out soccer balls," Heather McCrae said. "He enjoyed learning about the culture and talked about all the beautiful buildings and the mosques," she added. "And a lot of people really were thankful they were there, cleaning up the neighborhoods and fixing up the sewer systems." McCrae, 25, an Oregon National Guard member, was killed by a bomb in Baghdad on June 4. A 2000 graduate of Linfield College, McCrae worked as a mechanical engineer and reserve sheriff''s deputy before he shipped out to Iraq. He had so many activities that he was known as "the part-timer," his wife said. "He did everything 110 percent. But you never felt like you were in second place," she said. Capt. Kelby McCrae of the Oregon National Guard described his younger brother as an avid outdoorsman who learned to love camping, hunting and fishing as a Cub Scout. The younger McCrae had recently made a surprise purchase, a Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle. "He figured he would learn how to ride it faster if he couldn''t afford to wreck it," Kelby McCrae said with a laugh.
Published online on Jan. 28, 2005
From The Bend Bugle bendbugle.com 06/05/04:

Oregon Guard mourns three deaths in Iraq
As soldiers went to aid of bomb victims, 2nd went off
By Bend Bugle News Reports 
Published: June 5, 2004
The commander of the deployed Oregon Army National Guard unit detailed on Saturday the events surrounding the deaths of three Oregon Guard soldiers and the wounding of a fourth in Iraq on Friday.

The soldiers killed in action were:

Sgt. Justin Eyerly, age 23, of Salem, Ore., born in Salem, Ore.,

Spec. Justin Linden, age 23, of Portland, Ore., born in Belvedere, Ill.,

1st Lt. Erik S. McCrae, age 25, of Portland, Ore., born in La Grande, Ore.

The wounded soldier is:

Sgt. Nathan H. Melton, age 23, of Albany, Ore., born in Metarie, La.

The soldiers were assigned to D Company, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, but their original duty station was E Company, 82nd Cavalry, based in Woodburn.

Capt. Scott Hildebrandt, company commander of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 162 Infantry in Iraq said McCrae and his platoon responded to a military police unit that was attacked with an improvised explosive device. While the platoon secured the area, McCrae assisted the military police.

“As he and his crew got close to the injured, a secondary device went off, instantly killing Eyerly and Linden,” said Hildebrandt.

McCrae was seriously wounded in the blast.
Hildebrandt ordered more support to the scene of the attack to transport McCrae and three other wounded soldiers to a combat support hospital.
McCrae died while in surgery.

“Erik passed away true to his nature,” said Hildebrandt, “trying to help others.”
The attack stunned the unit, but they remain true to their mission.

“This incident has sent a shock through all of D Company and the battalion, but as always, we will drive on,” said Hildebrandt.

Brigadier Gen. Raymond C. Byrne Jr., acting Adjutant General of Oregon National Guard, commented on how the attack has affected units and families at home.

“We are, of course, in shock over losing three soldiers at one time,” Byrne said. “Nevertheless, our focus is now on taking care of the families. We have casualty assistance officers with the families, to help them through this difficult time.”

Byrne noted the Oregon National Guard has lost four soldiers in Iraq. Specialist Nathan Nakis of B Company, 52nd Battalion was killed in a vehicle accident earlier this year.



Biographies:

Justin Eyerly

Justin Lynn Eyerly was born August 8, 1980. He was the youngest of three children for Lynn and Sue Eyerly. Older brother Paul Eyerly and older sister Stacia Eyerly Hatfield.

Justin grew up in Salem, Oregon but also lived for a year in Hightstown, NJ and three and a half years in Southern California during his youth.

Justin caught the travel bug, spending a summer in Japan during high school, and then traveled through Italy before attending Portland State University. He was planning to return to Italy at the completion of his commitment.

He was studying graphic design at PSU. He also worked for the Arena Corps at The Rose Garden as well as interning as the graphic web designer with the Portland Trailblazers to support himself through school.

As an additional means of covering education costs, he joined the Oregon National Guard in October 1999. He quickly rose from the rank of private to sergeant. He trained in Fort Hood, TX and then Louisiana before being deployed in April of 2004 to the Middle East. He was stationed outside of Baghdad as a sergeant in the 2/162 Infantry.

Justin was a true technofile, often designing and building websites and creating music in his spare time. He had dreams of becoming a music producer and video game designer. He also designed and maintained a website for the rock band Filter.

Justin was best known for his lightheartedness and good nature and his ability to make everyone laugh.

He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.



Erik Scott McCrae

Erik Scott McCrae was born on November 1st, 1978 in La Grande, OR to Scott and Terri McCrae.

Erik, an eighth generation Oregonian, grew up mostly in Eastern Oregon. When dad, a career Oregon Guardsman, attended military schools Erik found himself attending school near Ft. Knox, KY, and Ft. Leavenworth, KS. Erik went to his Freshman and Sophomore year at La Grande High School but ended up finishing his last two years at Tigard, OR. In 1997 Erik graduated from Tigard High School with not only a 4.0 GPA, but also earned the coveted International Baccalaureate Degree, a high school diploma recognized worldwide. Erik enrolled at Linfield College in McMinnville and in 2000 graduated with degrees in math and applied physics. While earning those he worked during college for a high tech company, FEI of Hillsboro. Then following college he went to work for FEI full time.

In the fall of 2000 Erik joined the Oregon National Guard as a cavalry scout with E/82 Cavalry Troop in Woodburn. He planned from the beginning to be a commissioned officer, so once he finished his Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Knox, KY he enrolled in State OCS. In the August 2001 Erik was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Oregon Army National Guard, selecting Cavalry as his Branch.

Always one to find room to slip in more activities Erik decided to become a reserve officer with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. After almost a year of training Erik was only able to serve a short time as a reserve deputy before being activated for deployment with his National Guard unit.

On February 27th, 2004 Erik married his sweetheart of a year, Heather Smyth, of Portland. They were married at Ft. Polk, LA, where Erik’s unit had just finished their validation training for deployment to Iraq. The two had a very small wedding on post attended by their parents, along with some fellow soldiers from Erik’s battalion. The two planned a wedding vow renewal and reception for all friends and family upon his return from Iraq.

Erik was a strong Christian who was devoted to his wife and family. He enjoyed hunting, shooting, hiking, and more recently Harley Davidson Motorcycles. His pride and joy was his new black and chrome 2003 Harley 1200 Sportster awaiting his return. Erik was a very easy-going person with a calm demeanor and a great sense of humor. He was always willing to help and just as quick to listen and learn from others. Erik was a quiet leader who quickly earned the respect of those around him.

Kelby (brother): The last time I spoke to my brother was May 22nd, 2004. That was the day after our son, Seth, was born and Erik called me to congratulate us. He told me how proud he was of his platoon and how well they worked together. He was proud of the company as a whole and said they were setting the standard for others to follow. He felt they were helping the local residents and said they had a pretty good working relationship with them. Erik said the ongoing attacks portrayed by the news media as the norm were actually isolated incidents and a lot of the citizens he saw and helped were glad to have the American Army there. This was to be the last I would hear from my brother of 25 years.

Erik is survived by his wife, Heather, of Portland; parents, Scott and Terri, of Tigard; brother, Kelby, and his family in Brookings, OR; grandmother, Katie, of Tigard; grandmother Margaret of Walla Walla, WA; and many other loving family members and friends.



SGT NATHAN H. MELTON

Permanent Unit: E/82d Cav, Woodburn, OR
Assigned to: D/1-162 Inf, Cottage Grove, OR
Duty in Iraq: 39 BCT, 1 Cav Div

Home: Lives in Aloha with his wife, Susan
Married: Aug 16, 2003 in Coeur d’Alene, ID; SPC Justin Linden and SGT Justin Eyerly attended their wedding

Born: Metarie, LA
Parents: Salem, OR
Siblings: None

Education: earned associates in Criminal Justice; pursuing baccalaureate in health and family services/sciences – one year remaining in a four year program

Additional Info:

Serves as a reserve deputy with Benton County Sheriff’s department (started duty just prior to mobilization order) – would like to get back to law enforcement.

Sgt Melton and Sgt Eyerly grew up together; they’d known each other since they were eight years old. Sgt Melton, Sgt Eyerly and SPC Linden grew close during training prior to departing for Iraq.

From Temple Daily Telegram tdtnews.com 06/16/04:

1st Cav soldiers remembered at memorial service
Posted Jun 16, 2004

FORT HOOD -- More than 200 gathered Tuesday at Fort Hood's 1st Cavalry Memorial Chapel to remember the lives of nine who died in Iraq.

Of the nine, two were women. Five of the nine were attached to 1st Cavalry Division and four of the nine were members of the Army National Guard assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.

Honored were:

Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart, 22, of Ladson, S.C. She died June 6 in Baghdad after collapsing while on guard duty. Pfc. Hobart was assigned to Company E, 215th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Pfc. Leslie D. Jackson, 18, of Richmond, Va. She died May 20 in Baghdad when her military vehicle hit an improvised explosive device as it was returning to Camp Eagle. Pfc. Jackson was assigned to "A" Company, 115th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Spc. Beau R. Beaulieu, 20, born in Lewiston, Maine, but who listed Lisbon, Maine, as his home of record. He was a signal support systems specialist who died May 24 in Taji, Iraq, during a mortar attack on Camp Cooke. He was assigned to "B" Company, 27th Main Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Staff Sgt. Rene Ledesma, 34, of Abilene who died May 15 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device exploded near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Spc. Charles E. Odums II, 22, of Sandusky, Ohio, died May 30 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his military convoy hit an improvised explosive device. Odums was assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Sgt. First Class Troy L. Miranda, 44, of DeQueen, Ark, who died May 20, on Hipha Street in Baghdad when a grenade was thrown near his foot patrol. Miranda was assigned to "C" Company, 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Brigade Combat Team, Arkansas Army National Guard, assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.

1st Lt. Erik. S. McCrae, 25, of Portland, Ore.; Sgt. Justin L. Eyerly, 23, of Salem, Ore.; and Spc. Justin W. Linden, 22, of Portland, Ore., all died June 4 in Baghdad when individuals using improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades attacked their convoy. All three were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, of the Army National Guard headquartered in Cottage Grove, Ore and assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.

The service began with an invocation by Chaplain (Maj.) Gary Bragg. Col. Robert Forrester, the 1st Cavalry Division's rear detachment commander, delivered opening remarks.

Spc. Shawn Freese, Staff Sgt. Luis Olivas, Pfc. Rodrick Pearson, 1st Lt. Sonia Shane, Sgt. Eugene Prentice and Capt. Bryn Clothier gave eulogies to the fallen. Master Sgt. Frederick Jones read from Ecclesiastes 3:1-11.

Chaplain (Maj.) David Waweru delivered a memorial message followed by Bragg with a closing prayer.

All stood during a calling of the fallen by Sgt. Maj. Tobris Chandler and a firing of volleys by the honor guard followed by taps.

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