Saturday, February 24, 2007

Eric Sieger laid to rest

BLUFFDALE — After kneeling beside his son's casket, Wolfgang Sieger held to his chest a folded American flag and a Bronze Star certificate — and he was able to smile for a moment.

Army Spc. Eric R. Sieger, 18, of Layton, was laid to rest at Camp Williams on Monday afternoon. He was killed Feb. 1 in Iraq after the Bradley fighting vehicle he was in rolled over. Sieger's father said that he is still waiting for information about why the vehicle rolled.

During Sieger's funeral, family members and friends talked about the highs and lows during the soldier's life. But Wolfgang Sieger was particularly struck by the burial with full military honors.

"This really is as high as you can get," he said, as he looked down at the flag and certificate in his arms. But Sieger, an immigrant from Austria who became a U.S. citizen, also acknowledged, "Freedom comes at a price."

Eric became a Sieger at the age of 10, when Wolfgang and Krista Sieger adopted the boy and his three siblings into a family that included eight of their own offspring and four other adopted children.

"They have done everything they've done with much love," said Kevin Hatch, a bishop with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Bishop Hatch remembered a troubled boy who, when he was adopted, never smiled much. Hatch and others at the funeral described how Sieger changed over the years and became a "gentle" and loving young man.

"Bless his heart, he did well," Bishop Hatch said. "He began to smile."

Army Gen. Walter L. Davis, the military official who presided over the service, called Sieger loyal and respectful. "Unless we've lost one of our own, it's impossible to know what this family is going through right now," he told about 100 people at the service.

As of Monday, 3,382 coalition forces have died in Iraq since the invasion in 2003, according to Out of that number, 3,126 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. paid tribute to Sieger and his family, which includes three siblings currently in the military and a brother who served four years in the Air Force. "This is a family with a commitment to service, and we honor that," Huntsman said.

The governor said that Eric Sieger's service should be remembered as a benefit to a "highly misunderstood" part of the world.

Krista Sieger spoke briefly to those gathered at the Camp Williams chapel about e-mails that she had shared with her son and how he feared not making it home alive to celebrate his 19th birthday, which would have been March 9.

He ended at least one e-mail, "'I love you mom,"' she said. Looking at his coffin inside the chapel, she replied, "I love you, too."

Before meeting his son at the grave site a few hundred yards from the chapel, Sieger's father said, "There were many great times we had together," including walking to school and to the park.

"They were happy times," Sieger said. "I'm grateful to have had you as a son. ... We didn't have much time, but it was a good time. ... This is not a farewell, this is a 'See you later."'

From the Deseret News

Related Link:
Eric Sieger remembered

Related Link:
Eric Sieger reported killed in Iraq