JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Friends of Erich Smallwood, Trumann, remember the soldier who was taken from them nearly one year ago after an IED exploded near his humvee in Iraq.
"I think the heart-ache's gone a little bit and I remember Erich and thank him for what he did for this country fighting in Iraq," said Chris Hart, a friend of Erich's.
"I believe his spirit is here. We're all having a good time but this is what it's all about, remembering our fallen soldiers and our fallen friends," said Bret Hart, another friend of Smallwood's.
Erich's friends and family members say there's nothing in the world that can prepare you for the loss of a loved one. That's why they decided to hold a cookout, something they say Erich would have liked.
Friend Jason Becker says there's a simple reason they decided on a backyard barbeque this Memorial Day weekend.
"To keep everybody from sitting at the house and sulking around," said Becker. "We wanted to have fun and do it in Erich's honor."
Something soldiers from the 875th say Erich would have wanted.
"I'm sure he'd have already had his 10 lbs. of crawfish. He really is the life of the party. He really was."
Smallwood was a 2002 graduate of Trumann High School. He was the only casualty of the 875th Engineer Batallion.