Sunday, April 08, 2007

Eric Vick remembered

There were constant knocks at the door of their Spring Hope home.

The buzz of activity almost, but never quite, distracted the Vicks from the reason why everyone was there.

"It's been in and out, in and out all day," Reginald Vick said Wednesday evening, finding a quiet corner to talk to a caller.

"It actually helps keep our minds off it," he added. "But whenever anyone says, 'I'm sorry about what happened to Eric,' it makes us break down again."

Eric Vick, 25, was killed in Iraq early Sunday morning. Vick, an Army staff sergeant, was in a group of four military police officers going to the aid of solders hurt in an insurgent attack when they were caught in a roadside explosion.

Eric Vick's wife, Stephanie; his parents; and his brother, Milton, learned of Eric's death Sunday, but the family's private pain didn't become public until the U.S. Department of Defense announced the soldiers' deaths Tuesday evening.

That led to an outpouring of grief and support from friends and strangers alike.

For those who didn't know his son, Reginald Vick offered some descriptions – a newlywed; a soldier; a gentleman and a gentle man.

"He was a loving young'in," Vick said. "He was easy-going. If you treated him right, he'd treat you right. He'd give you the shirt off his back."

Eric Vick was the type to avoid trouble if he could avoid it and who'd stand by you during difficult times, his father said. "If you needed him, he'd be there in five, 10 minutes."

When he graduated from Bunn High School in 1999, Eric had not known exactly what his future held, his father said.

He had always done well in chemistry classes – "all As," Reginald Vick said – and had taken classes at Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount. But he needed more money to continue. He then tried to open a restaurant in Chapel Hill, but it didn't work out.

He enlisted in the Army only a few months after the 9/11 attacks, primarily concerned with continuing his education.

Eric trained as a military police officer and planned to return to college and finish his degree, his father said. He had the goal of working for a law enforcement agency, possible as a crime scene investigator.

Eric met his future wife, the former Stephanie Fisher, when he was stationed at Fort Bragg and she was working at a Fayetteville mall. They had only been married two years, "newlyweds," Reginald Vick said.

"She's torn all to pieces, just like all of us are," he said.

Eric was in his third tour in Iraq.

"I'd ask about Iraq," Reginald Vick said. "He'd say, 'I'd rather not talk about it.' So I stopped asking."

Eric was supposed to return to the U.S. in August. "But he didn't make it," Reginald said, his voice strained.

The news hit others who knew Eric hard.

"You hear about people being killed in the war, but when you know one, it really comes home then," said Barbara Hardeson, a member of Vick's church, Peach Tree Baptist Church.

Hardeson saw Vick grow up from a small boy to a man, she said Wednesday. "He was just an average country boy, maybe smarter than most."

Michael Angelmo, a mechanic in Spring Hope, remembered Vick as a smiling, nice guy, always willing to shoot the breeze.

"I can picture his face," Angelemo said at his shop Wednesday.

Robin Faulkner, assistant principal at Bunn High School, was a guidance counselor when Vick was a student there.

"He was always one of those students who'd have a smile on his face and who'd make you laugh," she said Wednesday.

The news of Vick's death stirred the memories of many of the teachers who knew him, Faulkner said. "People thought of him as a highly motivated student, the kind of person who had goals. He wanted to do well, but he also wanted to help his family out."

Vick had perfect attendance throughout high school, she said.

Also, Vick played the saxophone in the high school's marching band all four years, she said.

He set the school record in pole vault, topping 11 feet, a feat that is still noted on the school's list of athletic accomplishments, she said. He competed at the state track finals.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Cornerstone Funeral Home and Cremations in Nashville. It will likely be next week before the military can bring Vick's body back to the U.S. for service.

Burial is expected to be in the cemetery of Peach Tree Baptist Church, near the grave of his grandfather and namesake.
From the Wilson Times

Related Link:
Eric R. Vick dies of injuries from I.E.D.