Wednesday, March 17, 2010


One of my "causes" is that of supporting our fine military and their families and when I hear that another one has been killed my heart breaks...and it is with a broken heart that I post this blog entry.  PFC McLyman thank you for your selfless sacrfice....may God be with your loved ones and know that this grateful American lady will never forget you!

Pfc. Erin L. McLyman, 26, of Federal Way, Wash., died March 13 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked her base with mortar fire.  She was assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lews-McChord, Wash.  
 Spc. Erin L. McLyman
An Army carry team loads a transfer case containing the remains of Spc. Erin L. McLyman in to a transfer vehicle on Monday at Dover Air Force Base, Del. According to the Department of Defense, McLyman, of Federal Way, Wash., died while supporting <a class="taxInlineTagLink" href="/topic/unrest-conflicts-war/wars-interventions/iraq-war-%282003%29-EVHST000043.topic" title="Iraq War (2003)" id="EVHST000043">Operation Iraqi Freedom</a>.
Nine years ago, Erin Mc Lyman received a Turnaround Achievement award when she graduated with her peers from Sheldon High School in Eugene.
On Monday, her body was received in a formal ceremony with military honors at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
The U.S. Army specialist died in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. Air Force said. The particulars of her death were unavailable Monday.  McLyman’s hometown was listed as Federal Way, Wash., near Fort Lewis.
In June 2001, McLyman was featured in a Register-Guard article about teenagers who turned their lives around in order to graduate from high school.
McLyman recounted how she battled a drug habit beginning at age 12, was kicked out of Sheldon High School as a freshman, moved to California to live with an aunt, then returned to Eugene and completed a drug rehab program. She signed up for summer classes at Lane Community College, persuaded a counselor to let her re-enroll at Sheldon, and signed up for day and night courses to catch up on graduation requirements. She also joined the school’s dance team.
She was among 27 students honored that year with Turnaround Achievement awards, presented to middle and high school students who leave old habits behind in favor of academic success. Mc Lyman said then that she could scarcely believe she had managed to earn her diploma on time. “It was something I never thought I’d do,” she said.
That perseverance and constant energy were trademark qualities for McLyman, who died Saturday of wounds from a mortar attack on her base while she was serving with the Army in Balad, Iraq.
Her father, Robert McLyman, said it was those kind of qualities that led his daughter to pursue a career in the military. "If the guys were doing it, she'd do it," he said. "She'd do it twice as good just to prove a point."
Robert McLyman spoke hours after he and McLyman's mother, Flora Neustel, returned Tuesday from Dover Air Force Base, where their daughter's body was flown.

"She wanted to go fight for her country," said her husband, Brian Williams.  "She did whatever they asked her to do," he said, adding that she worked primarily as a mechanic. "She gave it 110 percent."  The two met in Washington and married in 2007.

"She was by far the most outgoing woman I ever met in my life," Williams recalled, adding that she was working three or four jobs when they met.

At the time, Williams was enlisted in the Army and McLyman joined his brigade in January 2009. They last saw each other a month ago, he said, when she returned home on leave.

McLyman was "not the sit-down-and-watch-TV kind of person," her father said. She made a statement just by her presence, he said.

"You see her walk into the room with that bright red hair and big blue eyes," he said. "She was loud and fun. You knew it when she came in the room."

All these years later, the mood at Sheldon High School is down where some staff members that knew Erin remain on campus.

John Lindsley was the vice principal at Sheldon when Erin was a freshman. One of his jobs was to keep her on campus. With a smile he says at times that was difficult.
He says Erin was dealing with some social issues when she temporarily left.  But he says she returned with a new attitude, and excelled in all arenas.Looking back now, Lindsley says it was worth it to stay on her, and keep her on course.
"As administrators we don't get a chance to work one on one with kids, so, when you can find that kid that you can see that you made a difference in their life because you just wouldn't give up on them, you were a pain in their side, and they ended up thanking you for it, you remember those kids. That was Erin."
With her red hair and tall frame, Spc. McLyman was hard to miss, making it that much harder for her to skip out of class as a high-school freshman. But she did, said Lindsley. "It was kind of a game of fox and hound that first year," he said.
In addition to trying to complete four years of schooling in just 2 ½, she was a member of Sheldon High's decorated dance team.
Her drive and outgoing personality made her well-known at the school. "We got to see her grow and blossom into a great human being," Lindsley said.
Lindsley says he knew she was joining the military after graduating. Vietnam veteran himself, Lindsley says he feared for her safety, but knew she would do a great job.
Lindsley says his thoughts and prayers are with the McLyman family and hopes to attend Erin's memorial service which has yet to be announced.
Bob McLyman, her father, said his daughter’s turnaround was astonishing. “I’d say she’s got a conscience now,” he said. “Before there was no conscience, no feeling.”
McLyman lived in a Federal Way apartment complex until her deployment a year ago, according to an article on the Seattle Times’ Web site. “She had a great personality — always friendly, full of energy,” Michael Shelley, a neighbor at the complex, told the newspaper.
McLyman and her husband enjoyed life there with their cat and dog, Shelley said.
Spc McLyman's grandmother, Betty McDonald of Eugene, is a military veteran herself, serving in the Korean War. She knew the risks her granddaughter took by enlisting. "We're those kinds of people," McDonald said. "When we think we are called, we go."
She had also spent time in the Air Force before her Army service. Among her military awards and decorations are the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Air Force Training Ribbon.
In addition to her husband, mother, father, and grandmother, she leaves sisters Mischa of Seattle and Nancy of Portland. Services have not yet been set.

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