Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric J. Bernholtz

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric J. Bernholtz, 23, of Grove City, Ohio.

Lance Cpl Bernholtz died when his amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Force Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

The night before his funeral, friends of Eric J. Bernholtz gathered to recall a guy who would sneak into church to play basketball, who would drink chocolate milkshakes and talk all night.

They laughed about his trademark footwear, which he called “shandals.” He’d cut the toes and heels off old gym shoes, turning them into something resembling sandals.

“This is a person that loved life,” said Dave Montgomery, a friend.

Bernholtz, 23, of Grove City, Ohio, died Aug. 3 when his vehicle was hit by a bomb south of Haditha. He graduated from high school in 2000 and was assigned to Columbus.

The Rev. Rob Paugh laughed about Eric’s navigational skills. “He thought he had a sense of direction,” he said, explaining that Bernholtz managed to find a wedding in Louisiana by driving south without knowing the name of the town or the church. Paugh was amazed to see him there in a suit — but no socks.

His older brother Adam, who is deaf, gave a eulogy in sign language. As he finished, he signed: “I love you. I can’t wait to run and hug you.”

He also is survived by his parents, James and Cathy Bernholtz.

James and Kathy Bernholtz have called St. Charles home for just two short months. But they raised their son Eric in Grove City, Ohio outside Cleveland. He was a devoted member of his local church, acting in its plays and coaching church sports. He talked of becoming a firefighter. But became a Marine instead.

James Bernholtz says, "Eric told me when he was on the phone with me last, he said, 'Dad I'm not scared. I'm ready to come home, but I know I have to finish what I came here to do.'"

Kathy Bernholtz says, "He said, 'I'm not afraid and you know mom if something happens I'm O.K. with Jesus. I'm fine. You're going to see me again.'"

But they will not see Eric again. The 23-year-old Lance Corporal was one of seven Marines killed August 3rd when their amphibious assault vehicle was attacked during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq.

James Bernholtz says, "She called me and told me that there were two Marines waiting for us. I knew. The Lord gave us both peace right away because we know exactly where he is and I know in 20 someodd years, I'll be shaking hands with him again."

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric J. Bernholtz was killed in action on 08/03/05.

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