Friday, July 20, 2007

Eric M. Holke dies 'of wounds sustained from a non-combat related incident'

CRESTLINE, Calif. --Sgt. Eric Holke, hungry for life experience, performed at Renaissance fairs, spent two years in the California wilderness and served with the Army and National Guard.

Holke, 31, was on his second tour in Iraq, serving with the California Army National Guard, when he died in a non-combat incident in Tallil. Family said he died when the Humvee he was in swerved and flipped when it tried to avoid hitting an Iraqi.

"It's very sad that he's gone," his sister Erin Holke said. "I wish he was still alive and coming back to his huge family and all the things he loved to do."

This included anything in the outdoors, such as hiking, skiing and snowboarding. He joined the California Conservation Corps after graduating high school and spent two years in the woods of Northern California.

After returning from the wilderness, Holke became active in the Renaissance fair circuit. At the fairs, he demonstrated how the German military lived in the 1400s through 1600s.

"It was a lot of fun seeing him get into the character," said Tom Wilson, a fair producer. "You could talk to him for an hour and he would still have the accent."

Holke, who died just a few weeks after his deployment, left behind a new wife and son, parents, a sister and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

He met and married his wife Cassidhe after returning from Afghanistan and Iraq as a soldier with the 82nd Airborne.

He had been honorably discharged from the Army in 2005 and was studying business and film at San Bernardino Valley College when the two met. He also had recently joined the California National Guard.

Holke and his wife also lived with her 16-year-old son, Steven. He was called to serve and in March left for Camp Shelby, Miss. He was deployed to Iraq in June.

From the San Luis Obispo Tribune