Friday, October 23, 2009

Army Spc. Eric N. Lembke

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Eric N. Lembke, 25, of Tampa, Fla.

Spc. Lembke was assigned to the 569th Mobility Augmentation Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 23, 2009 in Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an IED. Also killed was Pfc. Kimble A. Han.

The Ledger -- Plant City High graduate Eric Lembke joined the Army two years ago hoping to give his family a better life by the time his tour in Afghanistan ended next year.

But Friday, the 25-year-old Army specialist was killed when an explosive device hit his vehicle, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. His body was returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday.

Lembke's brother, 47-year-old Robert Lembke, and Robert's wife, Mary, of Denver, said they didn't even know Lembke had been deployed, and they never said goodbye.

Lembke was adopted by his foster mother, Robert's mother, Dorothy Lembke, when he was a teenager. At the time, his name was Michael Beckum, Mary said. He changed it to Eric Lembke when Dorothy took him in.

Because the two were so far apart in age, Robert Lembke said he and his brother didn't get to know each other until later in life, when Robert came back to Florida from Colorado in 2000 to care for his parents.

Robert remembers how interested Eric Lembke was in the Army. Robert had served for four years when he was 17, and their father was also a veteran.

At the time, Eric Lembke was working at Kash n' Karry — a good job, but "he wanted to take better care of his family," Robert said. "He wanted something better to do with his life."

Eric Lembke married young and eventually had two children, now 7 and 3, Mary Lembke said. He and his wife, Mashalle, moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2008.

"He did everything he did to provide for his family," Mary Lembke said. "It's just really heartbreaking."

Army Spc. Eric N. Lembke was killed in action on 10/23/09.

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