Lance Corporal Eric S. Freeman was featured as a Defend America profile in early 2004. He kept a journal of his second tour in Iraq. Eric graduated from high-school at age 16 and completed almost two years of college before joining the Marines. This journal entry recounts the day he and his brother Marines were wounded:
I feel myself jerked backward against the outward facing bench seat in the back of the 7-ton. A high pitch ring fills my ears and the world has become dust. I can feel my face being peppered with sand and debris. It finally happened... the debris continues to rain down, the left side of my face is on fire and I can see the drops of blood fall onto my SAW which is between my legs. I spit solid, bright red blood.
Holloway yelling, “Riddler’s down!”
I’m a combat aidsman, just then I notice he’s slumped across my lap. My gun somehow flies out of the truck, it’s on the ground. I need that gun; we could get ambushed.
“Holloway I got ‘Rit’, get my gun!” I turn Rit over and he’s bleeding all over his face.
“Tell me where it hurts ‘Rit’!” I yell at the top of my smoke and dust filled lungs.
“My face, it burns, my face” he says shakily.
His hands are up near his face and he’s violently shaking all over, shock, he’s in shock. Surreally, I’m somehow on the ground now, out of the truck, and the dust has cleared. People are yelling for the corpsman (Medic). I pull out my first aid kit and start wiping the blood from Rit’s face so I can see the wounds. They aren’t bad, so why is he in so much pain? He’s groaning and shaking and polling while I check him all over for any other wounds. But it’s just his face that’s wounded.
My face is fucked up too. I’m afraid to touch it or ask or look for myself, I know the left half of my face looks like raw ground beef. I think about how my glasses must’ve saved my eyes and realize that I can’t even see through them ‘cause of the blast residue. I blearily realize that I’ve been looking out from below them the whole time. I take them off.
Rit is gone now with the corpsman and Cpl. Lipe is being led from the cab, his face looks like mine feels and his right eye is gone, just a bloody pinkish mess between his cheek and his eyebrow. The doc’s got him, I run to everyone, one at a time to make sure they aren’t bleeding out and don’t know it because of shock. Everyone is bloodied in the face mostly, except Brooks, who says he’s fine, walks with a limp and refuses to let me help him, and Sgt. Ramos, who took a piece of frag to his right flank, his flack vest stopped it from causing too much damage.
The truck is totaled, it leaks anti-freeze in huge green puddles that collect around the enormous, flat tire. The engine casing is dotted with huge shrapnel holes and the entire windshield is out. I look at my face in the rear view mirror. I’m peppered with small bits of rock and shrapnel and my lip is cut open and caked with blood. Somehow, it really isn’t very bad, despite how it feels. I’m pretty sure it’ll heal with almost no scars.
I was one of the luckiest...
Eric had survived the invasion of Iraq and was with the Marines fighting in Baghdad. And he survived the first assault on Fallujah in April of 2004.
On January 3rd, 2005, Eric was on his way to report for duty to begin a 3rd tour of duty in Iraq when the car he was riding in crashed. He died on the scene.
He had a few letters to be read in the event of his death. One was for his family and the other for his fiance, Tiara:
I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it home to you and I’m sorry it took me so long to realize how great my family is. But enough of that. The best thing that anyone of you could do to honor me is not to pity any of us but rather remember the good times we shared. To remember all the goofy, fun and loving times we had will be what lets my life have value. I will not stand for sad faces every time I’m mentioned (I will haunt you meanly for that, LOL). But in all seriousness celebrate my life and the love we had. Okay, everyone, I’m going to go now but remember that you all gave my life purpose and happiness and that is what I wish to give you.
Eric’s letter to Tiara, his fiance:
Heyya Hun. If you’re getting this letter it’s because I’m not coming home to you. Take heart though, Love, and please do not pity us. Be happy that we had the time we had and know that I died loving you. When you think of me don’t think of what could have been but smile for me and remember the good times we had. I don’t want you to be sad when you think of me, I want you to tell everyone about how much we loved each other and about how we laughed together. I did not live a life to be mourned, I lived it to make the people I love happy. I want you to know how wonderful you are, Tiara. You know, you made everything worth it. You were the most loving, supportive and amazing person for me. Only you could have made my heart sing the way you did. Okay, love, I’m gunna go now. I want only three things of you; Celebrate my life and our love, Don’t let the end of my life end yours, and remember that I love you still and nothing can take that away from us.
I think Eric would probably shake his head at all the nonsense happening with the Marine Corps brass right now, but he'd still do his duty. He embodied everything that you'd want in a Marine.
Eric's mother, Brenda, and I have become friends over the last year or so. While poring over Eric's journals and letters I couldn't help but think about my family. I hope my son grows to be a man like Eric.
Eric also wanted to be a published author someday.
On Labor Day, the milblogger book will be in stores (more on that later). Eric will be featured in two chapters.
All the Way, brother, and Semper Fi...