Marine dies in Iraq

Lance Cpl. Eric W. Herzberg, 20, from Severna Park

October 25, 2006|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,sun reporter

Lance Cpl. Eric W. Herzberg, a 2005 graduate of Severna Park High School, was killed in combat Saturday in Anbar province in Iraq, the Defense Department announced yesterday. He was 20.

A deeply religious Catholic who regularly attended St. Bernadette parish in Severn, Corporal Herzberg enlisted right out of high school, a course many in his high school believed he would follow.

He was an avid athlete, competing on a club rugby team in Severn as well as for Severna Park's junior varsity football and wrestling teams.

He also enjoyed playing computer games and listening to Irish and country music.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our wonderful Eric, yet we are so incredibly proud of him," his family said in a prepared statement. "He was a happy, quiet young man with a deep compassion for others and a deep faith in God. While we grieve our loss, we celebrate his life and the joy and laughter he brought into our lives. Please join us as we pray for all of the brave men and women still serving our country in harm's way, and for their families. And join us as we pray for the peace which will let them all come home."

Corporal Herzberg was a machine gunner, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He graduated from boot camp a year ago and was deployed to Iraq in July.

It was unclear yesterday how he died, although Anbar province is a volatile region, an insurgent stronghold made up of mostly Sunni Muslims. The most recent data available from the Marine Corps. says that 158 Marines in the division have died in Iraq since March 29 last year.

He is the second Severna Park native killed in Iraq in over a month. Army Private Eric Matthew Kavanagh died Sept. 20 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his multipurpose vehicle during combat operations, according to the Defense Department.

October is the deadliest month for American troops this year, as the official toll reached 91 yesterday and 2,792 for the war, according to Web sites that track the casualties.

Corporal Herzberg was born in Olympia, Wash., although he also lived in Greenville, S.C., Nova Scotia and Ontario before moving to Severna Park in 2000.

Paul Joyce, his coach in football and wrestling, said he had often thought the young man would join the military because of his "impeccable manners" and character. Before he enlisted, Corporal Herzberg spent some time with his parents at Mr. Joyce's beach house. After finishing boot camp, he returned to his high school in uniform to recruit students.

"He was somebody who probably got along very well with his fellow platoon members, someone who had no problem waking up at 5 a.m.," Mr. Joyce said.

"You hate to say it, but at least he was doing something he loved," he said. "It's a sad loss. Pretty much every citizen in the country has a couple people they know who have gone in and never come back."

Ann McDonald, a pastoral associate at St. Bernadette parish, said Corporal Herzberg was gentle and "service-oriented.

"He was interested in coming to church when he was a teenager, which is quite remarkable, actually. ... The thing I was always impressed with was his respect and care for his mother, and his love of his sister and his brother. That just always struck me. He was such a caring young man."

Visitation will be Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Barranco & Sons Funeral Home in Severna Park. A funeral mass will be held at St. Bernadette at 11 a.m. Monday. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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