From the moment he opened his eyes each morning, Lance Cpl. Eric Levi Ward surged with vivacious life and energy. He was a morning person and could almost always be found enjoying a hearty breakfast with his family at the break of dawn. Even in combat, those who loved him spoke of the life and joy in which he brought to every situation. Eric died February 21st while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan at the age of 19, but that morning spirit will live on in the many lives that he touched. Born in Fairfax, VA on August 17th, 1990, Eric immediately radiated a spirit of serenity. Those who knew him cherished his genuine ability to make you laugh, even through the most difficult of times. His strength continues to watch over his friends and family, and Eric stands proudly beside them as a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a lover, a friend, and a U.S. Marine. His life was extinguished in a moment, but nothing can extinguish the joy he will always bring this world. To list those who were left behind to mourn his loss would not sufficiently fit on this page. He was family to so many and carried a presence that people gravitated to. He was determined and loyal. He defined honor as if he etched it into existence with his own hands. His mother, Monica, and father, Steven, brought the breath of life to more than just a bright young man; they brought the world a warrior, and as such he made many proud. Eric lived a full life in a short 19 years. He traveled the world, explored much of the country, and experienced great successes in friendships and family. He was a natural athletic leader and lived a life full of adventure and experience. He formed bonds stronger than some see in a lifetime, and was fortunate enough to even fall in love. Eric entered the United States Marines Corps immediately after high school, continuing on a 4th generation legacy in his family. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan. Looking up to his father Steven as a veteran U.S. Marine, he wanted to show him the same honor and respect Steven showed his own mother and father before that. Eric carried his mother and father's love and compassion with him into a world that only knew war-torn combat. He captured the hearts of his fellow troops and served beside them without hesitation, and when it came to giving up the thing that mattered most, he gave his life and never looked back with regret. Eric Levi Ward is a hero. He will be loved and missed dearly, but never forgotten. As Eric's mother sang to him all these years, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You never know dear, how much I love you, so please don't take my sunshine away." Eric's light will never be gone, and just as he was up with the sun every morning, he will be remembered for the light that he brought into this world every single day.
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