Eric Levi Ward
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 142-10
DOD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Lance Corporal Eric L. Ward, 19, of Redmond, Washington, died February 21, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
For additional background information on this
Marine, news media representatives may contact the II Marine Expeditionary
Force public affairs office at 910-451-7200.
Relatives of Lance Corporal Eric L. Ward, 19, of Redmond, Washington, include his grandmother, Shirley Demm; his aunt and uncle, Jean and Randy Stresemann all of Winthrop; and his mother, Monica Stresemann McNeal of Redmond, Washington, formerly of Winthrop.
A fourth-generation Marine, Ward was a machine gunner assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
While the exact cause of Ward's death was not released, his unit was reportedly involved in an intense offensive to retake the city of Marjah from Taliban control, according to the Seattle Times.
About 15,000 American and NATO troops are part of the offensive, called the largest operation in the eight-year war.
The operation has killed at least seven 2nd Regiment Marines since February 1, 2010.
Demm called her grandson "a happy-go-lucky kid you couldn't help but love."
"He planned to go to college after serving a four-year Marine enlistment," she added.
Ward, who lived in Chanhassen as a boy, deployed to Afghanistan last October and was promoted to lance corporal last month.
He was described by his fellow Marines as a person with a great sense of humor who could make people laugh even in the middle of a heavy rain.
Ward's body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware last Tuesday.
He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
26 February 2010:
A U.S. Marine with Minnesota family ties has been killed in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Eric L. Ward, 19, of Redmond, Washington, was part of a security mission in the southern province of Helmand when an improvised explosive device killed him and another Marine Sunday, Ward's mother, Monica McNeal, said by phone Friday night from her home in Washington.
Ward attended kindergarten and first grade in the Twin Cities area when his family lived in Chanhassen. The family then moved to California and Washington, but Ward visited Minnesota every year because of his mother's family ties in Winthrop, Minnesota, his mother said.
He was a fourth-generation Marine who always strove to be his best, she said, noting that even when Eric was a child, his love for the Marines was clear: His bedroom was draped with camouflage.
"Eric loved life," McNeal said. "He kind of lived life on the edge of the sandbox. He pushed the limit. He made people laugh."
Ward was a competitive baseball and football player in high school, but had a sensitive side, too. His mother said one morning he arrived early to class and put a Hershey's kiss chocolate on every student's desk.
He joined the Marines in July 2008 and was deployed in October 2009. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
"He was just ready to serve," his mother said. "And he was a really giving person."
While in Afghanistan, Ward spoke often with his mother via cell phone or Facebook, where a memorial page with more than 1,200 fans now has sprung up. He never talked about safety concerns, instead reassuring his mother that he was fine and focusing on stories about the Afghan children he encountered and how eager they were to receive pens and pencils from soldiers.
"On Facebook, he said, 'Mom, I'm safe. Don't worry. I love you,' " McNeal said.
Memorial services will be held at 9 a.m. March 13, Mount Si High School. Ward will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at 3 p.m. March 19, Arlington, Virginia. Friends and family are welcome at both services.
WARD, ERIC LEVI
Posted: 2 March 2010 Updated: 19 March 2010 Updated: 7 April 2010 Updated: 2 June 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, May 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, April 2010