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Fallen Murrieta Soldier Hailed as Hero During Memorial Service

U.S. Army Sgt. Eric E. Williams' motto was "Do good things." During his memorial service Saturday with full Military honors, many of the good things he accomplished were shared.

“Do good things.”

The phrase is inscribed under the high school yearbook photo of fallen U.S. Army Sgt. Eric E. Williams, 27, of Murrieta.

Friends, family, fellow service members and the community gathered Saturday at Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar to share some of the good things Williams accomplished in his life cut short.

Williams, a flight medic, was killed July 23 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, when his operating base came under enemy fire — days, if not hours, away from his scheduled return to the United States.

"Eric saved lives; the lives of soldiers and the lives of civilians — it was second nature to him," said Ryan Brieda, a friend of 15 years.

Followed by a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace," the Murrieta Fire Department presented the colors Saturday as Williams' fellow service members from the 82nd Airborne Division served as the honor guard for his American flag-draped casket that sat at the front and center of the darkened sanctuary.

The light from two candles cast a shadowy hue near bouquets of red, white and blue flowers. A blue ribbon placed on a wreath said, "Our Hero Forever."

Williams' father, Bruce, mother, Janet, and wife, Wendi sat close by, surrounded by friends and family.

"Eric was always willing to take on any task with a willing heart," said his cousin, Bryan Stumpf, who shared some early memories of growing up with Williams.

"We had an unusual family tradition of holding him upside down in pictures," Stumpf said, prompting a laugh. "And when he was young he would have a hard time going to sleep...Sleep well, Eric, we love you."

Pastor Ron Armstrong of Cornerstone Community Church said it was a honor to be asked to hold the memorial service. In the days after reading of Williams' death, Armstrong said he learned his son, Ryan, fatally stabbed outside a Temecula bar three years ago, was a friend of Williams.

On one visit home, Williams had visited Ryan's grave and left an Army medic pin, he said.

"Eric thought it was so important to give that to him," Armstrong said he learned, after talking with Williams' family.

Williams' family did not speak during the service, instead choosing to let a few of his close friends share memories in his honor.

Williams' close friend for more than a decade, Rob DeCraene, read from Williams' last blog post that was written July 17 and titled "Coming Home."

"He will always live on as a brother of mine," DeCraene said in closing after reading several paragraphs in a shaky voice.

The Internet blog, in which Williams wrote frequent entries, was something his mother suggested he start. The result was several detailed accounts that included military experiences, visits home and getting married.

Prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army in 2007, Williams had lived in Murrieta since he was in second grade. He graduated in 2002 from Murrieta Valley High School, where he served as the president Fire Explorers, a youth volunteer program through the Murrieta Fire Department.

He attended Riverside Community College Fire Academy, and became a paramedic for American Medical Response, working on a crew based out of a Murrieta fire station.

He went on to become a dispatcher for AMR before entering the Military. This was his second tour of duty; the first was to Iraq.

One of the lives he saved while on duty in Iraq was that of Staff Sgt. Joshua Constantine, who also spoke at the memorial service.

"When a bullet pierced my ribs ... I started to give up," Constantine said. "Until I heard a soft voice; it was Eric saying, 'Josh, breathe out.' Eric Williams was the greatest soldier I've ever known. Sgt. Eric Williams, I will see you on higher ground."

In attendance and speaking on behalf of Gen. Raymond T. Odierno was Brig. Gen. Jeff Colt of Fort Bragg, were Williams was based.

"He did much and he touched many in his young life," Colt said. "His service as a paramedic demonstrates his services to others. His service as a flight medic demonstrates his service to all of us.

"He accepted our Soldier's Creed...We will preserve his memory as a living hero...these days when the term is grossly overused by overpaid basketball players...it is time to remember what a true hero is."

The flag from Williams' casket was presented to his mother, and two other flags were given to his wife and father before the honor guard led the family out of the church. .

The service was followed by a reception.

Williams' ashes will be spread on the ocean, according to his mother.

Mark August 05, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Captions would help a lot on the pictures. I would like to know what and who I'm looking at.
Mark August 05, 2012 at 12:09 AM
May this young man rest in peace and god bless him and his family.
Z . Gerdo August 05, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Mark , I was at the funeral yesterday for srg Eric williams , all the pics are from his funarel at the church . You see all the AMR and fire trucks because he was a fire explorer just like me and he was an EMT , he was a good guy and it's sad to see him go
Juan E Marmolejo August 06, 2012 at 09:57 AM
The Army Colors The Army colors, The colors are blue, To show the world That we are true. Your Left Right Left YOur Military Left...Now get in Step The Army colors, The colors are green, To show the world We're a fighting machine. Your Left Right Left YOur Military Left...Now get in Step The Army colors, The colors are red, To show the world The blood we've shed. Your Left Right Left YOur Military Left...Now get in Step The Army colors, The colors are black, To show the world That we're on the attack. Your Left Right Left YOur Military Left...Now get in Step The Army colors, The colors are white, To show the world That we can fight. Your Left , Your Left Your Left Right
Maxx August 06, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Rest in Peace Hero. Story brought tears to my eyes.
Sheri Peters August 09, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I did not know this amazing young man but I believe soldiers are the bravest of all the people. They never cease to amaze me , with their courage, loyalty, commitment and love of this country. A soldier is beyond any words we can find to honor him. This young man is now an angel and will forever be in the hearts of his family and friends. God has a special place in hevean for heros. I am an old friend of Marti and Kurt and my heart aches for all of you. God be with you, Sheri Peters
Corrie M Wolf October 13, 2012 at 08:42 AM
Williams, I will miss you forever. Go home my soldier. Tell Gonzo, Mathis, and the others I miss them too. Not a day goes by where I don't think about you. Thank you for the eternal memories. The world lost a Saint when you passed. Love you, love you, miss you. Thank you. Ft Benning leads the way!! -Wolf (#354)

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