First 875th Casualty Laid to Rest

Trumann, AR -- Monday morning's funeral was the final chapter to Sergeant Erich Smallwood's story. Smallwood was killed in Iraq on May 26th.

Erich is the first soldier from the 875th to be killed in Iraq. "He was a soldier, and he was hero.  He is the reason we are here today," said Jon Redman. Redman is married to Smallwood's sister.

"He was a leader for us--a soldier who truly cared for his comrades," said Kevin Robert.Many take solace knowing Erich believed in what he was doing. He believed the right to freedom shouldn't be limited just to those of us living in the United States. Kevin Robert was a long time friend to Erich Smallwood.

"Erich was a brother to me and the platoon. It will never be the same without him but we will carry his spirit in our hearts and the wonderful memories of him with us always," said Robert.He recognized the endless opportunities American citizens enjoy.

"Erich made it very clear to me about his faith in Jesus Christ and his belief in serving his country. I believe someone had to make this sacrifice....he would have done it again--that's how much Erich loved others," said Robert.

Tears of sadness fall upon a flag covered coffin--for this now decorated casualty of war, the fight has ended. With every ending there is a new beginning and life without Erich goes on--keeping his memory close to their hearts....friends and family won't forget the joy Erich brought to their lives, the bravery he possessed, and his spirit that lives on.

"If there is one thing I know, Erich would not want us to grieve or be sad because of his sacrifice. He would want us to live our lives to the fullest and always remember the men who gave their lives so we could be free and enjoy all of the opportunities the United States has to offer," said Robert.