MURRIETA – A U.S. Army paratrooper-medic killed in Afghanistan will be honored by the Murrieta Police Department in a flag ceremony today on the second anniversary of his death.
Sgt. Eric E. Williams died July 23, 2012, when he was hit by enemy fire after departing his base in Ghazni province, preparing to return home following a yearlong deployment.
”As for our accomplishments here in Afghanistan, I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Williams wrote in his blog six days before he was killed. ”I will forever hold these experiences close.”
At 8 a.m., Murrieta police officers will hoist a flag above the police station in honor of the 27-year-old soldier.
According to Murrieta police Sgt. Jay Froboese, the flag-raising is part of the police department’s ”Honor a Hero — Fly Their Flag” program, started last year. This will be the fourth ceremony to honor a veteran, Froboese told City News Service.
Williams’ mom, Janet Williams, other members of his family, friends and representatives from several organizations, including the fire department and the Patriot Guard Riders, a veterans group that provides motorcycle escorts for funeral motorcades and participates in a variety of other military-oriented activities, will be on hand for the salute.
City Councilman Rick Gibbs is slated to deliver remarks.
Williams was a Murrieta Valley High School graduate and served as president of the Murrieta Fire Department’s Fire Explorers’ program. In 2002, the same year he graduated high school, he earned his emergency medical technician certification from Mt. San Jacinto College.
He graduated from the fire academy at Riverside Community College in 2004 but decided on military service and went into the Army in 2007.
In 2008, he served as a combat medic in Iraq, returning to the states that year, working at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as an emergency room medic. He became a certified flight medic in 2011 while stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom several months later.
He earned the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, according to family members.
In his blog, Williams expressed frustration about the attitudes of Americans on the homefront, citing complacency and a lack of genuine patriotism as pervasive.
”We cannot live in a world where we hold onto the ideals that bitching solves anything, where we believe that things will be taken care of for us,” he said in his final blog entry. ”If you want something done, go out and get it done — period.”
According to Froboese, the flag that will be flown over the police station was the same one with which Williams covered his grandfather’s coffin when the World War II Army Air Corps pilot was laid to rest in 2008.
The flag will fly until Eric’s 30th birthday, Sept. 5.