MURRIETA (CBS) — A 27-year-old soldier from Murrieta died Monday, just days before he was scheduled to return home.
Sgt. Eric E. Williams was in transit from Afghanistan to the United States when he was killed by enemy fire, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division on July 25.
Sgt. Williams had kept a blog since 2008. His most recent post was on July 17 titled, “Coming home”.
“This deployment is coming to an end, in a few days we will be on a plane back to the United States to rejoin our family and friends and to try to readjust to a certain semblance of what we think life should be,” he wrote. “There is no promise that any of us will return unchanged. But we collectively have been granted access to something few ever see, or choose to see for that matter.”
Sgt. Williams was an 82nd Airborne Division flight medic who had been deployed to Afghanistan since October.
This was his second deployment since he entered the U.S. Army in 2007, after serving as a combat medic in 2008-2009 on a 14-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Andrew Wade Nunn was Williams’ Senior Line Medic during his first deployment, according to Wade Nunn’s site, Thoughts in Andrew’s brain.
“My fellow Americans, yesterday, we lost a hero.” Wadenunn wrote in a post, which was reblogged by many. “SGT Williams was inside a tent when a mortar round landed inside the tent, it failed to detonate on impact. Without hesitation and with no regard for his personal safety he threw himself upon the projectile as it detonated, shielding his brothers from the blast, and ultimately sacrificing himself. His actions saved the lives of 7 men around him.”
“He was always on his game,” Sgt. Cormac Chandler, a combat crew chief who served with Williams said in the news release. “Will always kept his cool, which in turn helped me to keep my cool. That is who he was.”
In his July 17 post, Sgt. Williams expressed his gratitude for those he was fighting with.
“We collectively have risked it all and put everything on the line to save our fellow man, regardless of nationality, race, religion or sex,” he wrote. “These people I work with are some of the most dedicated men and women I have ever met. They come from all walks of life and although different in so many aspects, all come together collectively to accomplish this mission. I’m proud to say that I work with some of the most professional people there are. But now we are going home. Were out of this god forsaken country, but we take with us the weight of a thousand missions. To try to dissect them as best we know how.”
Sgt. Williams became an EMT in Murrieta after graduating from Murrieta High School in 2002.
“He was literally one of the best people I’ve ever met in my life,” a close family friend Christie Hemm said. “He was so proud, and really wanted to give a good name to this country. He wanted to go over there and show compassion and take care of people.”
Sgt. Williams’ wife, Wendi, and mother, Janet, will return home late Thursday with his remains. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, August 3, in Wildomar.