|From the Albany Democrat-Herald democratherald.com
Highway signs to honor mid-valley's fallen military heroes
By Alex Paul, Albany Democrat-Herald
A soldier and a Marine who were killed serving in Iraq will soon be honored with large brown-and-white Fallen Hero Memorial Highway signs near Albany and Philomath.
State. Rep. Andy Olson unveiled the signs honoring Marine Lance Cpl. Tyler Troyer of Albany and Army Spc. Eric McKinley of Philomath Monday afternoon at the American Legion Post 10.
Olson has worked with Troyer’s parents for almost two years to recognize military members who sacrificed all.
His parents are Terri and Michael Thorpe and David and Sandy Troyer. McKinley’s parents are Tom McKinley of Salem and Karen Hilsendager of Philomath.
Michael Thorpe was instrumental in Oregon’s development of the Hero Memorial Signs program. It is modeled after a program in Massachusetts, where a bridge is named in honor of one of Tyler’s friends, Lance Cpl. Shayne Cabino, also killed in action in Iraq.
“This is a continuation of what we did last year when we unanimously passed House Bill 2708,” a measure establishing the sign program, Olson said. “We are here today to honor two of our fallen heroes from the mid-Willamette Valley, Army Specialist Eric S. McKinley and Lance Corporal Tyler Troyer.”
Olson thanked Katie Thiel and David Hachek of the Oregon Department of Transportation, who said the signs will be placed by June 13 — the anniversary of McKinley’s death. Troyer’s will be placed before that date.
McKinley’s sign will be near the entrance to the city of Philomath. Troyer’s sign will be near Oakville Road on Highway 34.
Olson said Troyer loved playing baseball and was a left-handed pitcher for the West Albany Bulldogs.
He enlisted in the Marines soon after graduating from high school at the age of 18.
“Tyler was 17 years old when he started talking about joining the Marines and when 9/11 happened, he knew he wanted to defend his country,” Olson said. “His parents gave him their love and support and signed the papers.”
Troyer was killed by an enemy sniper in Al Karmah, Iraq, in November 2005. He was just three months short of rotating home.
“He was a friend to everyone and had a great sense of humor,” Olson said. “He was always happy and always smiling.”
Although he considered going into law enforcement, it appeared he was going to attend culinary school after his tour of duty was over — his favorite dishes were Chinese.
Troyer served with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines and Golf Company.
Spc. Eric McKinley was
24 years old when he was killed on June 13, 2004, by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad. The blast destroyed two vehicles and wounded four other Oregon soldiers, Olson said.
McKinley’s six-year enlistment with the Oregon National Guard was to have ended on April 1, 2004, but was extended indefinitely because of continued violence in Iraq, Olson said.
He served with the Company B, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, Oregon Army National Guard.
Although he was born in Salem, McKinley graduated from Philomath High School, where he was known to be a quiet and caring young man, Olson said.
“He liked to liven up his school life with brightly colored Mohawk haircuts,” Olson said.
An avid outdoorsman, McKinley also worked as a baker at the Alpine Bakery in Corvallis and hoped to open a juice bar in Corvallis upon returning home to provide a drug and alcohol-free environment for young people, Olson added.
“Eric was a stand-up guy who wanted to be a positive influence in other people’s lives,” Olson said. “He was very generous and a hard worker. His generosity extended to Iraq, where he gave his TV to an Iraqi family that had lost everything.”
McKinley posthumously received the Bronze Star for meritorious service, a Purple Heart and Oregon Distinguished Service medal.
A sign honoring Oregon Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Davis, who was killed in Iraq in 2005, will be erected near Lebanon at a later date and Lance Cpl. Joe Rodewald, killed in 2010 in Afghanistan, will also be honored at another time.
Family members pay for the signs, about $600 each.
Members of the Oregon Patriot Guard presented an avenue of flags leading to the American Legion Post 10 building, honoring the fallen heroes and their family members.
“We get it here in the mid-valley,” Olson said. “Tyler and Eric are typical of the young men and women who come out of our high schools and are willing to serve and defend their country. They are incredible.”
Oregon soldier killed in Iraq ambush identified
By Brad Cain
SALEM, Ore. — The latest Oregon soldier to be killed in Iraq was a 24-year-old Corvallis man whose stay in the war-torn country had been extended indefinitely, the Oregon National Guard said Monday.
Spc. Eric McKinley was killed Sunday by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad that destroyed two vehicles and wounded four other Oregon soldiers, Guard spokesman Maj. Arnold Strong said.
McKinley’s six-year tour of duty with the National Guard was to have ended April 1. But his stay was extended indefinitely because of the continuing violence in Iraq.
Strong, who met with the fallen soldier’s family members Monday, said, “There wasn’t any anger or vitriol” about the extended stay in Iraq.
“When you are a soldier, you are serving at the discretion of the U.S. Army. He was well aware of that,” Strong said.
Born in Salem, McKinley attended Philomath High School.
An avid outdoorsman, McKinley worked as a baker at Alpine Bakery in Corvallis. Upon his return from Iraq, he hoped to open a juice bar in the college town to provide a drug- and alcohol-free environment for young people, Strong said.
“This was a stand-up guy,” Strong said.
McKinley, the 23rd person with strong Oregon ties to die in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, is survived by his father, Tom McKinley of Salem, and his mother Karen Hilsendager of Philomath. They have asked not to be contacted by the media, Strong said.
“They are hurt and upset with the loss of their son,” Strong said. “They are still shell-shocked with this horrific news.”
The soldiers injured by the bomb were identified as Staff Sgt. Phillip Davis, 23, of Albany; Sgt. Matthew Zedwick, 23, of Bend; Cpl. Shane Ward, 23, of Corvallis and Pvt. Richard Olsen, 23, of Independence.
Sunday’s attack was the second deadly attack on Oregon troops in Iraq in as many weeks.
McKinley belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry — the same unit as the three Oregon soldiers killed by two improvised explosive devices outside of Baghdad on June 4.
One of the soldiers — Spc. Justin Linden, 22, of Portland — was honored Monday in a memorial service at New Hope Community Church in Clackamas. The service was attended by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
Kulongoski also attended a memorial service for Sgt. Justin Eyerly, 23, of Salem, who was buried Sunday. A funeral for Lt. Erik S. McCrae, 25, was scheduled for later this week.
The Oregon National Guard deployed 705 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, based in Cottage Grove, to Iraq in April.
Soldier killed in Iraq remembered as quiet, caring
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Friends and co-workers remember Spc. Eric McKinley as a quiet, caring young man who dyed his hair, sported several tattoos and loved ska and rock music.
McKinley, 24, was killed Sunday by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad that destroyed two vehicles and wounded four other Oregon soldiers. He was a member of the Oregon National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, based in Cottage Grove.
McKinley attended Philomath High School from his freshman year in 1994 until March 1998, when he dropped out. Staff there say McKinley was decent and polite, although he wasn’t involved much in school.
English teacher Mary Morris described her former student as “friendly and laid back, not the greatest English student in the world, but always a pleasure to be around.”
McKinley’s senior yearbook picture shows a grinning young man with spiked hair dyed red and green. In other 1998 yearbook pictures, he has purple hair, blue hair and a mohawk.
McKinley moved to Corvallis, where he worked for about two years as a baker at Alpine Bakery.
“Eric was a great guy,” said Ryan Barber, a bakery employee and one of McKinley’s friends. “He would give you the shirt off his back if he could.”
Joey and Viki Taylor, who own Alpine Bakery, said McKinley was always willing to work late nights and fill in when other employees called in sick.
“He always did what was asked of him,” Joey Taylor said.
McKinley also spent time at the Taylors’ other business in Corvallis, Sacred Art Tattoo. He got several tattoos at the shop, including those depicting tribal signs on his forearms and pinup girls on his ribcage and chest, Joey Taylor said.
McKinley was deployed to Fort Hood, Texas, in late October. His six-year tour of duty with the National Guard was to have ended April 1, but his stay was extended indefinitely because of the continuing violence in Iraq.
McKinley is survived by his father, Tom McKinley of Salem, and mother, Karen Hilsendager of Philomath.
McKinley’s friends say they’re doing all they can to keep his memory alive.
The Taylors plan to place a plaque at Alpine Bakery in McKinley’s memory.
“I keep trying to tell people he wouldn’t want people to be sad,” Ryan Barber said. McKinley would rather have them remember the good times, he said.
— Associated Press
Family, friends celebrate life of soldier killed in Iraq
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Two weeks after he was killed by a bomb in Iraq, Oregon National Guard Spc. Eric McKinley was remembered at a ceremony Saturday for what he loved in life: punk rock bands, Celtic music, skateboarding and tattoos.
About 500 people attended the memorial service for the 24-year-old Corvallis man at Starker Arts Park in Corvallis. There was a mix of people dressed in either military or punk attire — including McKinley’s six-year-old cousin, who, in tribute, wore his hair in a bright green mohawk.
Coventry Pacheco, McKinley’s fiancee, sat in the first row at his celebration-of-life service. They hadn’t set a wedding date, but were planning to get married.
McKinley was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service, a Purple Heart and the Oregon Distinguished Service Award. U.S. and Oregon flags were presented to his parents, Tom McKinley of Salem and Karen Hilsendager of Philomath.
McKinley’s six-year tour of duty in the National Guard was to have ended April 1, but was extended indefinitely due to continued violence in Iraq. He was killed June 13.
McKinley’s cremated remains were brought before the podium at the start of the event. Family internment will be at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Columbarium in Salem.
The celebration-of-life service featured a bagpiper, the release of a dove, a three-helicopter fly-over, a 21-gun salute, “Taps” and music by Amadan, one of McKinley’s favorite local bands.
— Associated Press
Eric Scott McKinley Skate Park
1st & B Avenue Corvallis, OR 97333
Eric Scott McKinley Skate Park is a sculpted arena for those that like to skate board or ride BMX bikes. Nearby picnic and resting benches allow spectators to enjoy the show and a basketball court is available to those that prefer not to skate.
Hours: 8am-10pm year round