24 years old from Corvallis, Oregon
Company B, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, Army National Guard
June 13, 2004
An avid outdoorsman, Spc. McKinley worked as a baker at Alpine Bakery in Corvallis, Ore. Upon his return from Iraq, he hoped to open a juice bar in the college town to provide a drug and alcohol-free environment for young people. Friends and co-workers remember Spc. McKinley as a quiet, caring young man who dyed his hair, sported several tattoos and loved ska and rock music. His senior yearbook picture showed a grinning young man with spiked hair dyed red and green. In other 1998 yearbook pictures, he has purple and blue hair in a mohawk.
Spc. Eric McKinley was killed when a roadside bomb north of Baghdad detonated destroying two vehicles and wounded four other Oregon soldiers. They were identified as Staff Sgt. Phillip Davis, 23, of Albany; Sgt. Matthew Zedwick, 23, of Bend; Cpl. Shane Ward, 23, of Corvallis and Pvt. Richard Olsen, 23, of Independence.
Almost 500 people attended the memorial service for Spc. McKinley at Starker Arts Park in Corvallis. There was a mix of people dressed in either military or punk attire — including McKinley’s six-year-old cousin, who, in tribute, wore his hair in a bright green mohawk.
Coventry Pacheco, McKinley’s fiancee, sat in the first row at his celebration-of-life service. They hadn’t set a wedding date, but were planning to get married.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service, a Purple Heart and the Oregon Distinguished Service Award. U.S. and Oregon flags were presented to his parents, Tom McKinley of Salem and Karen Hilsendager of Philomath.
These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived
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