|From KVAL TV Eugene kval.com
'She was greatly loved and will be greatly missed'
by KVAL.com staff
Originally printed at http://www.kval.com/news/national/89194937.html
EUGENE, Ore. -- Citizens braved the wind and the rain to wave American flags as the funeral procession for an Oregon soldier rolled through the streets of Eugene on Thursday en route to a memorial service.
Private First Class Erin Leigh McLyman died March 13, 2010, in a mortar attack on her base in Iraq.
She was 26 years old.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski spoke at the ceremony Thursday, continuing his pledge to attend services for Oregon service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Pfc. McLyman was, quite simply, the best Oregon and our nation has to give," said Kulongoski.
McLyman's father Robert McLyman also spoke at the service and invited the crowd to share their stories at a reception after the memorial. He read a poem, written by an anonymous author, that he said best expressed his feelings.
Father Ralph Haynes offered the invocation at the Eugene Faith Center.
McLyman was born May 10, 1983, at Sacred Heart hospital in Eugene, Ore., to Robert and Flora McLyman.
McLyman had overcome problems with drugs and alcohol as a teen and shared her inspiring story with KVAL News in 2001.
Kulongoski said he watched the story online, making her very different from other fallen service men and women, because he was able to see and hear from her.
"I very much count myself among those who have been inspired by Erin's short but powerful, and consequential life," said Kulongoski.
After graduation from Sheldon High School, she enlisted in the Air Force. She later re-enlisted with the Oregon National Guard and returned to active duty with the U.S. Army.
She deployed in August 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., she was a member of the 296th Brigade Support Battalion 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. During her service, she earned several honors, such as the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon and Army Service Ribbon.
She married Brian Williams on Dec. 15, 2007. The couple shared a home in Federal Way, Wash, with their dog and cat, both of which McLyman had rescued.
"She lived every moment like she didn't have a second to spare," her family wrote. "She was greatly loved and will be greatly missed."
|From The Oregonian oregonlive.com
Eugene native dies in Iraq, becomes Oregon's latest war casualty
By Helen Jung, The Oregonian
March 16, 2010, 8:50PM
Erin McLyman, seen here with her dog Buddy, was killed during a mortar attack in Iraq on Saturday. The Eugene native was serving with the U.S. Army.After a bumpy freshman year at Eugene's Sheldon High School, Erin McLyman didn't return to class the next fall.
Instead of giving up, McLyman worked twice as hard when she came back a year later, said a former teacher, Fran Christie. Each day, after a full class schedule, she would come back in the evenings to make up courses she had missed.
As a result, not only did she graduate on time in 2001, said Christie, director of Sheldon's alternative learning program, but she was named the school's "Turnaround Achievement Award" student, an honor that recognizes select middle and high school students who work to overcome barriers to their personal success.
That perseverance and constant energy were trademark qualities for McLyman, who died Saturday of wounds from a mortar attack on her base while she was serving with the Army in Balad, Iraq.
Her father, Robert McLyman, of Coburg, said it was those kind of qualities that led his daughter to pursue a career in the military.
"If the guys were doing it, she'd do it," he said. "She'd do it twice as good just to prove a point."
Robert McLyman spoke hours after he and McLyman's mother, Flora Neustel of Eugene, returned Tuesday from Dover Air Force Base, where their daughter's body was flown.
McLyman, 26, was a private first-class assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out of the Lewis-McChord joint base in Washington.
Raised in Eugene, she is the 112th person with ties to Oregon or southwest Washington to die in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also the third woman from the area to die in those wars.
"She wanted to go fight for her country," said her husband, Brian Williams, of Roy, Wash. "She did whatever they asked her to do," he said, adding that she worked primarily as a mechanic. "She gave it 110 percent."
The two met in Washington and married in 2007.
"She was by far the most outgoing woman I ever met in my life," Williams recalled, adding that she was working three or four jobs when they met.
At the time, Williams was enlisted in the Army and McLyman joined his brigade in January 2009. They last saw each other a month ago, he said, when she returned home on leave.
McLyman was "not the sit-down-and-watch-TV kind of person," her father said. She made a statement just by her presence, he said.
"You see her walk into the room with that bright red hair and big blue eyes," he said. "She was loud and fun. You knew it when she came in the room."
In addition to her husband, mother and father, she leaves sisters Mischa of Seattle and Nancy of Portland. Services have not yet been set.
-- Helen Jung
© 2010 OregonLive.com. All rights reserved.
|From KVAL 13 TV, kval.com
Sheldon grad killed in Iraq 'inspired people to be better'
by Laura Rillos KVAL News
Originally printed at http://www.kval.com/news/local/87926477.html
EUGENE, Ore. -- After starting her life over, Private First Class Erin McLyman was determined to make the most of each day.
The U.S. Army soldier and 2001 Sheldon High School graduate died March 13 in Balad, Iraq, after being wounded in a mortar attack.
"The military was something very dear for her. She chose to go back in," said Dee Dee Johnson, McLyman's friend from the Federal Way, Wash., area. "The good thing is, she died doing what she loved to do. That's what she wanted to do."
McLyman decided to join the military in high school after overcoming an addiction to drugs and alcohol .
She told KVAL in 2001 that she had dropped out of school at one point, but she had returned to Sheldon and joined the dance team. She spoke about resisting the temptation to do drugs as she focused on her goal of joining the U.S. Air Force.
"It was really cool for me to see that she did that. She turned her life around and i'm in that same process," said Thomas Evans, who grew up across the street from the McLyman family. He described McLyman as caring and vibrant. "She just inspired people to be better," Evans said.
"She just brought life out in everybody," said Johnson. "She was kind hearted, gentle, feisty. Just a very real person."
Johnson described McLyman's laughter. "She had a wonderful laugh. It was contagious. When she laughed, you had to laugh."
McLyman served in the Air Force before joining the U.S. Army on Dec. 31, 2008. She was assigned to Fort Lewis in Washington in 2009 and deployed to Balad, Iraq, in August 2009, where she was a mechanic.
This was her first deployment with the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. She was awarded the rank of Private First Class after her death.
Her awards and decorations include the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and Air Force Training Ribbon.
McLyman lived in Federal Way, Wash., with her husband, who was also an Army solider. He left the Army one month ago.
Her father, Bob McLyman, told KVAL News a military funeral will be held on March 31 at Fort Lewis. Arrangements are being made for a service in Eugene.