Saturday, September 18, 2010

Army 1st Lt. Eric Yates

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. Eric Yates, 26, of Rineyville, Ky.

1st Lt. Yates was assigned to 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Sept. 18, 2010 in Zhari district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Eric Yates was considered quiet and likeable with a soft sense of humor by some who knew him as a John Hardin High School student.

Yates, 26, son of David and Kathy Yates and a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, died Saturday from injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in the Zhari district, Kandahar province in Afghanistan.

Michael Leasor, who graduated with Yates from John Hardin in 2003 and attended elementary school with him in Rineyville, said Yates wanted to join the military at a young age. He said he talked with Yates about a month ago, shortly before he deployed. “He was just his usual self,’’ Leasor said. “He was always kind of quiet ... He looked at it as just doing his job.’’

Leasor said the news of his longtime friend’s death was stunning. “You don’t want to believe it was him,’’ he said.

“He was a rather quiet young man, a good student who did all that was expected of him,’’ said former John Hardin High School Principal Brent Holsclaw in a Hardin County Schools news release. Holsclaw is now superintendent of Bardstown City Schools.

“Eric served his country with honor and made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us,” he said. “I think that says a lot about the character of this young man who we were so fortunate to know at John Hardin. I know the John Hardin family is proud of him, and will sorely miss him. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family.”

Lynne Gibson, a former social studies teacher and now an assistant principal at JHHS, said Yates “was an outstanding young man and a true leader in the greatest sense.’’

Yates is the second John Hardin graduate to die while serving his country in the last two months. Spc. Nathaniel Garvin, a former student at JHHS, died in July in Afghanistan.

Another local man, USMC Lance Cpl. Matthias Numon Hanson, a LaRue County High School graduate, died in Afghanistan in February.

Yates graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2008 and was a double major in social studies and history. He received his commission through WKU’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

A campus memorial service is Thursday at the Guthrie Bell Tower at WKU.

“He was a real sensible and likeable young man,’’ said Jessica Forrest, a social studies teacher at JHHS. “He was excited to be going into teaching. He observed my classroom through his studies at WKU and couldn’t wait to start teaching.”

No funeral arrangements for Yates had been announced as of Monday night.


Western Kentucky University has scheduled a campus memorial service for 4 p.m. Thursday at the Guthrie Bell Tower to honor 1st Lt. Eric D. Yates, who graduated from WKU's ROTC program in December 2008.

“It’s a sad day here,” said Lt. Col. Jason T. Caldwell, head of WKU’s Department of Military Science and Leadership. “It reminds us about what our WKU ROTC graduates can experience when they become officers in the military and defend our country.”

“It’s tough to lose a member of the family even if your family is 21,000 students, 2,200 employees and 100,000 alumni,” WKU President Gary Ransdell said. “We suffered a loss last weekend that brings world events close to home. This to my knowledge is the first ROTC cadet that I knew as a student to be killed in action. We salute Eric Yates and his family for his service, his courage and his WKU spirit.”

Yates is survived by his father, David L. Yates, and mother, Kathy Yates.

Army 1st Lt. Eric Yates was killed in action on 9/18/10.

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