Monday, June 18, 2007

Eric Barnes remembered

LORAIN -- Escorted by an honor guard from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the body of Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes, 20, killed in Iraq June 10, arrived home yesterday morning.

After landing at the Lorain County Regional Airport just after 9 a.m., Air Force personnel took his flag-draped casket from the charter plane to the waiting funeral car.

Visiting hours for Barnes will be from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes' alma mater, Lorain Admiral King High School.

''It's fitting that he has a memorial service in the school that he just graduated from,'' said John Nesbit, one of Barnes' science teachers from his high school years. ''Eric loved Admiral King. You certainly couldn't have had the memorial service in a regular funeral home - there's too many people coming.''

Added Nesbit, ''He was well-liked by everybody that he touched. I think that will be evident at the memorial service on Tuesday.''

Barnes, a 2004 Admiral King grad, had dreamed of serving in the Air Force. Those who knew him described him as a popular student who participated in basketball, bowling, the school band and who earned the Eagle Scout ranking.

''Everybody who knew him had good things to say about him,'' recalled Dave Payne, one of Barnes' Boy Scout leaders.

Another Scout leader, Don Kaspar, remembers meeting Barnes as a 15-year old.

''Even then, he showed signs of leading the boys. He was a natural-born leader,'' Kaspar said. ''He always took care of the boys. The ones that needed to be pushed a little bit, he pushed them along and helped them through things....He was never one to sit back and be the second person. He wanted to be in the front.''

Admiral King Principal Thomas Tucker knew Barnes from attending church with his family, and also from his years serving as school band director, where Barnes played trumpet for four years.

''He was a heck of a kid,'' Tucker said. ''He would always volunteer, always be the first one to help out. He was very, very nice.''

Added Tucker, ''The world needs more kids like Eric.''

Mark Tressel, Barnes' horticulture teacher at Admiral King who also hired Barnes in the summer to do landscaping work, remembered Barnes as one of his favorite students.

''I assure you, he will be sorely missed. It's a travesty,'' Tressel said. ''He's the kind of kid that you would like to have for your son, or if you had a daughter, that you would like your daughter to date.''

Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, also at Lorain Admiral King.

A 20-person honors unit from Wright-Patterson will be at the funeral as pallbearers, a firing squad and an honor guard.

Burial will follow in Elmwood Cemetery.

Residents wishing to show their support for Barnes and his family are asked to line the procession route from Meister Road south to Cooper Foster Park Road.

Barnes was killed June 10 when his convoy was struck by a roadside bomb about 120 miles south of Baghdad.

From the Morning Journal

Related Link:
Eric M. Barnes dies 'as result of an improvised explosive device attack on an Air Force convoy'