Thursday, November 24, 2005

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric P. Pearrow

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric P. Pearrow, 40, of Peoria, Ill.

Sgt Pearrow was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo.; killed Nov. 24 when his M1A2 Abrams tank accidentally rolled over into a canal in Baghdad.

Army Sergeant First Class Eric P. Pearrow, a 40-year-old veteran tank commander who was killed recently in a roll-over accident in Iraq, developed a lifelong fondness for all-terrain vehicles in the fields that surround Peoria.

Pearrow died in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 24t, 2005, Pentagon officials said Monday. He was a tank commander assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is based at Fort Carson, Colorado, Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd said. He was an experienced soldier who was qualified to lead an entire tank platoon, she said.

Pearrow was riding in an M1A2 Abrams tank when it accidentally rolled over into a canal, Rudd said.

His cause of death was drowning, said Pearrow's fiancee, Niall Campbell, of Deridder, Louisiana.

Campbell said she and Pearrow postponed their wedding plans after learning he was going to be deployed because "he was a really, really good soldier and he wasn't going to die."

East Peoria resident Don Bell said he and Pearrow became best friends 26 years ago after they discovered that they had many common interests.

"We'd chase girls and go four-wheeling ... that kept us so busy," Bell said.

Bell said he and Pearrow also liked to drive Jeeps off-road, testing their driving abilities by following a creek that led to the Illinois River.

The skills Pearrow honed in Peoria would serve him well in the military, where he was assigned to a tank crew after completing boot camp, Bell said.

"He called me up and said, 'I've got the ultimate, four-wheel-drive vehicle. I'm driving an M1 Abrams tank. This thing goes through everything,"' Bell said.

Pearrow, a Bronze Medal recipient, served with tank units in Operation Desert Storm and Bosnia, Bell said.

Military officials provided little information about the November 24, 2005, accident.

Fort Carson spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Johnson said it was unclear what Pearrow's unit was doing at the time or where he may have been sitting when the tank turned over.

"He could have been anywhere in the tank, with the exception of driving," Johnson said.

Bell said the other members of Pearrow's tank crew managed to get out of the vehicle after it rolled over.

"He made the ultimate sacrifice for those kids over there. He basically sacrificed his own life to save those kids," Bell said.

Pearrow planned to retire in February, when he was scheduled to return to the U.S., Campbell said.

"We were on leave once for 50 days and never had an argument. He was my perfect other half," she said.

"He loved being a U.S. soldier. He loved the Army," Campbell said. "He was fighting the war because he was an American soldier.

"That was his job. Not because it was a war he believed in. He didn't feel like we needed to be in Iraq. He didn't feel like he was making a difference anymore and that we should have left a long time ago."

Pearrow is survived by two daughters who live in Kentucky, both of whom have enlisted in the military.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric P. Pearrow was killed in action on 11/24/05.

1 comment:

Niall A. Campbell said...

Dearest Eric,

Tomorrow will be two years since you left us:( The girls are doing well, you are now a grandfather of a beautiful baby. Not a day goes by that you are not missed by us all. I love you and misssss you beyond belief.... Thankyou for the time I had you and the Joy you brought into my life.

Loving you forever,

Niall