Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Army Staff Sgt. Eric T. Duckworth

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Eric T. Duckworth, 26, of Plano, Texas;

SSgt. Duckworth was assigned to the 759th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 10, 2007 in Baghdad of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

A 'Tremendous Leader' Lost
Staff Sergeant on 1st Tour Would Have Come Home Next Month
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post

A week before his 27th birthday, family and friends of Eric Thomas Duckworth gathered to honor him for a different reason. They came together yesterday to mourn him as he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Staff Sergeamt Duckworth, 26, of Plano, Texas, died October 10, 2007, in Baghdad when a makeshift bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was the 391st member of the military killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.

Duckworth entered the Army at 18, almost immediately after graduating from Clear Lake High School in Houston. He was on his first deployment to Iraq, which began in August 2006 and would have ended next month.

"He wanted to serve his country; he wanted to make a difference," his mother, Ila Duckworth, told the Dallas Morning News last week. "He felt honored to serve his country."

Duckworth's family told the newspaper that he excelled in JROTC during high school and was selected to attend a national ROTC meeting for outstanding leaders. He loved sports, especially the Dallas Cowboys and NASCAR.

He was a friendly and lively guy.

"He made friends easily," his mother told the Morning News. "He was also very much a family man."

Messages posted on the online tribute site, Legacy, were similar. People who knew him described him as a "great man," "tremendous leader" and "extremely dedicated."

"I was a loser, but he was a straight arrow -- a good kid," one friend wrote. "I looked up to him." Another said that "He was a phenominal soldier and an even better leader."

Yesterday, more than 120 mourners gathered under a gray, cloudy sky threatening rain to say goodbye to Duckworth. American flags were given to his widow, Sonya Lynn Duckworth, and his parents. Among the mourners were his daughter, Madison, 4, son Michael, 1, and stepdaughter Kaylynn, 10.

Kaylynn sat in the front row of seats at the end closest to the firing party that was part of the service. She was the first to stand as they prepared to fire their volleys, but as the seven soldiers fired the first of three shots each, she crumbled to the ground. Another mourner knelt to comfort her, but she was visibly shaken by the sound. Secretary of the Army Pete Geren made his way to Kaylynn, kneeling to speak with her.

Duckworth was assigned to the 759th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. During his more than eight years of military service, he received numerous awards, including the Army Service Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.

Army Staff Sgt. Eric T. Duckworth was killed in action on 10/10/07.

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