Erin McLyman—September 2010 Shipment HonoreeStaff and wire reports
TACOMA, Wash. — An Army specialist with ties to Washington and Oregon has died in Iraq.
The body of Spc. Erin L. McLyman, 26, arrived March 15 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Her identification was released by the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover.
She died March 13 of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked her base with mortar fire.
She lived most recently in Federal Way. She graduated from Sheldon High School in Eugene, Ore.
Memorial honors Ore. soldier killed in IraqThe Associated Press
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski joined about 300 relatives, friends and community members on Thursday at a Eugene memorial service for a 26-year-old soldier killed in Iraq.
Pfc. Erin McLyman died March 13 in Balad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked her base with mortar fire. She was a 2001 graduate of Eugene’s Sheldon High School.
The governor had ordered flags at all public institutions to be flown at half-staff Thursday in her memory.
McLyman’s husband, Brian Williams, tucked a folded U.S. flag under his arm and followed the soldiers who carried his wife’s casket out of the Eugene Faith Center.
Williams stopped to watch an ivory-colored hearse led by police officers and Patriot Guard Riders transport the casket down Polk Street. He watched until every motorcycle was out of sight, then murmured, “That’s so awesome.”
Based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., McLyman was part of the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Her deployment to Iraq in August was her first.
Fallen soldier had turned life aroundThe Associated Press
Erin McLyman emerged from high school a confident, good student who before graduating had overcome a severe, years-long drug addiction.
“My grades were dropping, I wasn’t going to class, weird people would come over to the house and drop by in the middle of the night. I’d leave and not come back,” a 17-year-old McLyman said nine years ago in an interview with KVAL-TV in Eugene, Ore.
She was sharing her success story of kicking a habit she said had involved using marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. After graduating from Sheldon High School in Eugene, where she was a member of a dance team, she enlisted in the Air Force.
She later re-enlisted with the Oregon National Guard and returned to active duty with the Army.
“She lived every moment like she didn’t have a second to spare,” her family wrote.
McLyman, 26, of Federal Way, Wash., was killed March 13 in Balad, Iraq, in a mortar attack. She was assigned to Joint Base Lews-McChord.
“We will miss her — our state and nation will never be quite as good without her,” Gov. Ted Kulongoski said at a memorial service in Eugene.
She is survived by her husband, Brian Williams; her parents, Robert and Flora McLyman; two sisters; and a grandmother.
Mike Francis and Helen JungThe Oregonian
After a “bumpy” freshman year at Eugene’s Sheldon High School, Erin McLyman didn’t return to class the next fall. But instead of giving up, McLyman worked twice as hard when she came back a year later, a former teacher said. Each day, after a full class schedule, she would come back in the evenings to make up courses she had missed.
As a result, not only did she graduate on time in2001, said Fran Christie, director of Sheldon’s alternative learning program, but she was named the school’s “Turnaround Achievement Award” student, an honor that recognizes select middle and high school students who work to overcome barriers to their personal success.
That kind of perseverance and constant energy were trademark qualities for McLyman, who died Saturday of wounds sustained during a mortar attack on her base while she was serving with the Army in Balad, Iraq.
Her father, Robert McLyman, of Coburg, said it was those kind of qualities that led his daughter to pursue a career in the military.
“If the guys were doing it, she’d do it,” he said. “She’d do it twice as good just to prove a point.”
Robert McLyman spoke just hours after he and McLyman’s mother, Flora Neustel of Eugene, returned Tuesday from Dover Air Force Base, where their daughter’s body was flown.
McLyman, 26, was a private first-class assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out of the Lewis-McChord joint base in Washington.
Raised in Eugene, she is the 112th person with ties to Oregon or Southwest Washington to die in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also the third woman from the area to die in those wars.
“She wanted to go fight for her country,” said her husband, Brian Williams, of Roy, Wash. “She did whatever they asked her to do,” he said, adding that she worked primarily as a mechanic. “She gave it 110 percent.”
The two had met in Washington and married in 2007.
“She was by far the most outgoing woman I ever met in my life,” Williams recalled, adding that she was working three or four jobs when they met.
Williams at the time was enlisted in the U.S. Army and McLyman joined his brigade in January 2009. They last saw each other a month ago, he said, when she returned home on leave.
McLyman was “not the sit-down-and-watch-TV kind of person,” her father said. She made a statement just by her presence, he said.
“You see her walk into the room with that bright red hair and big blue eyes,” he said. “She was loud and fun. You knew it when she came in the room.”
In addition to her husband, mother and father, she leaves sisters Mischa of Seattle and Nancy of Portland. Services have not yet been set.