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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Honoring a hero: VFW holds wreath ceremony for Shawnee sailor killed in Afghanistan

  • A wreath ceremony was conducted at the Oklahoma Veterans Memorial in Shawnee Thursday to honor Eric Warren, a U.S. Navy Hospitalman from Shawnee who was respected by the sailors and Marines who called him “Doc.”


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  • A wreath ceremony was conducted at the Oklahoma Veterans Memorial in Shawnee Thursday to honor Eric Warren, a U.S. Navy Hospitalman from Shawnee who was respected by the sailors and Marines who called him “Doc.”
    Warren, 23, a McLoud High School graduate, was serving his third tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed over Memorial Day weekend while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He died from wounds he received when an improvised explosive device detonated in the Sangin district of Helmand province.
    His parents, Donna and Marvin Warren, who live in the South Rock Creek area, along with many other relatives, attended the wreath ceremony hosted by Shawnee VFW Post 1317, with more than 200 people gathering around the memorial in Woodland Veterans Park.
    The short, yet somber ceremony, began with the Navy flag at the memorial being lowered to half-staff and a wreath placed nearby in honor of Warren.
    House Speaker Kris Steele spoke and said Hospitalman Warren, a member of our community, gave his life doing a job he loved.
    “He paid the ultimate sacrifice — Eric is a hero — a true American hero,” Steele said, adding Warren was greatly admired by his fellow service members.
    “He took care of Navy and Marines and spent his life making sure others were strong, healthy and at their best — he did it with honor, he did it with dignity and he did it with pride,” Steele said.
    Steele encouraged everyone to take time to remember Warren’s bravery and attitude and to remember that it is because of him and others before him making the ultimate sacrifice that “we can enjoy the freedom we have today.”
    Along with Warren’s friends and family, members of the community, current military personnel and many area veterans also attended to honor the fallen sailor.
    Steele read comments from many of Warren’s fellow service members, including one that read, “Rest in Peace Doc Warren — you have earned your golden wings.”
    Several friends were among those offering condolences to his parents and family, including Kathryn Dowell, who attended school with Warren in McLoud and who is also a family friend.
    In a touching and tearful tribute, her 3-year-old daughter, Trinity, presented Warren’s mother a rose before the ceremony began.
    Dowell said her brother, Steven, is Warren’s best friend and is currently serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. With a heavy heart, she was there Thursday to remember Warren and to support his family.
    “There’s not one bad thing to say about Eric. I don’t understand why God takes angels — he definitely earned his wings and halo,” Dowell said.
    “There are no tears in heaven,” she said, adding that Warren will be “our guardian angel.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Shawnee High School 2007 graduate Jamelle Payne was Warren’s classmate when he attended SHS.
    “It just hurts my heart that a person’s family has to endure this,” Payne said. “We appreciate him for serving our country.”
    And while Payne called Warren’s death “tragic,” he said it’s all about how we remember and honor him.
    “The beautiful part is we have this time together to remember who he is and what he’s done for us” Payne said.
    Warren transferred to McLoud High School from Shawnee High School during his senior year, where he was active in wrestling and drama. Warren was described as a caring individual who kept in touch with his friends and teachers, even after graduating.
    Warren joined the Navy soon after high school and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
    Grandparent Charles Eoff of Shawnee said Warren enjoyed athletics and also played football for Shawnee.
    “He was an exceptional young man,” Eoff said.
    “He went to basic for the Navy and basic for the Marines,” Eoff said, adding that Warren served in both branches, with his fellow comrades calling him “Doc.”
    “He was very devoted to his group,” Eoff said. “He was good at what he did and he loved it.”
    Warren was last home over Christmas, Eoff said, and he had called his mother just two days before his death to wish her a happy birthday.
    Although the ceremony was a somber event for the family, the support from the community and his friends was a moving tribute.
    “We’re very proud of him,” Eoff said. “He was a happy kid who always had a smile on his face. He was supportive of all his friends.”
    Among those in the crowd paying tribute to Warren and his family Thursday was Darrell White, whose son, Aaron, also from Shawnee, died in a 2003 Marine helicopter crash while serving in Iraq.
    Shawnee Mayor Linda Peterson also expressed her condolences to the Warren family on behalf of the Shawnee community.
    “We want to support them in their time of grief and for them to know the community is grieving with them,” the mayor said. “We honor him and his service and his ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”
    VFW Commander Al Wright said honoring Warren at the Oklahoma Veterans Memorial was a fitting tribute.
    “That’s what this park is about,” he said.
    The Oklahoma veterans committee also plans to honor Warren with a paver that will be placed near an anchor, a replica from the USS Oklahoma, that should be installed at the park by July 4. Warren’s paver will be the first one there, Wright said, followed by a paver to honor White.
    Page 3 of 3 - Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Capt. Mark Sterling said when Warren’s body arrives in Oklahoma by airplane from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, sheriff’s deputies plan to provide a police escort for the trip from the airport to Shawnee. Warren could return to Oklahoma as early as Friday.
    Funeral services for Warren are being handled by Resthaven Funeral Home and are scheduled for 2 p.m., Tuesday, June 5, at Downtown Pentecostal Church, 518 East 7th, Shawnee. Interment will follow at Resthaven Memorial Park, Shawnee.
    Did you know?
    Eric Warren’s Awards and Decorations:
    • Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Specialist
    • Combat Action Ribbon
    • National Defense Service Medal
    • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
    • Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
    • NATO Medal
     

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