The community of Shawnee came together Thursday to honor a hometown hero killed in Afghanistan over the weekend.
Navy Hospital Corpsman Eric Warren, 23, from Shawnee died last Saturday during Operation Enduring Freedom. His family told News 9 Wednesday about their sailor's dedication to serving our country.
News 9 was at Memorial Park as family, friends and fellow servicemen remembered one of Oklahoma's finest. The sailor's heartbroken father, Marvin Warren, spoke with us before the memorial.
This morning the community surrounded the fallen sailor's family to show support and honor their hero.
"I miss talking to him and being with him," Marvin Warren told News 9 Wednesday.
Thursday morning, Oklahoma veterans, neighbors, family and friends came to honor their local sailor and give support to a grieving mom and dad who must bury their son Eric.
Twenty-one shots rang out of a single rifle fired by a Shawnee VFW member. Bugler and Vietnam Navy Veteran John King played TAPS alongside the community's memorial for veterans and fallen soldiers.
House Speaker Kris Steele said it was an honor to speak at the memorial to honor the local sailor who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The Navy Hospital Corpsman provided medical care during combat missions like the one that took his life on Saturday, May 26. He was wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in the Sangin District of Helmand Province.
"Even though he's not in my branch, he's a brother," family friend and Oklahoma National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Kory Wingo said.
Wingo says one memorial is too many, and he's lost a lot of brothers during his service. He says Eric was on his third deployment and scheduled to come home this summer; having just gotten back from Afghanistan himself, Wingo says it's tough to think about.
"To see [young men] lose their lives, it's hard," he said.
Wingo is close with the Warrens and knows how hard it is on the family, but knows the sacrifices of a soldier.
"But I know...it's a have to," he said.
Wingo says serving our country is what Eric loved and signed up for. Every soldier knows the sacrifices he or she might have to take.
"For that, we honor him today. It's an honor to serve with men like this," Wingo said.
The Patriot Guard and VFW riders will be escorting the sailor to his final resting place. The family says funeral services for their sailor have not been finalized and they have not decided whether to make those plans public.