The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 10, 2014

Update: Fellow soldiers remember Waseca Marine killed in Afghanistan (video)

Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson was killed Feb. 28 in Afghanistan.

WASECA — A brave Marine that loved serving his country. A hard worker who always jumped at a chance to help. A good friend who could always make you laugh.

These were just some of the stories shared by Marines that served with Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson following his funeral Monday in Waseca.

Erickson, 20, was killed Feb. 28 while serving in Afghanistan. His body was laid to rest in Woodville Cemetery after a service at Grace Lutheran Church. Hundreds of community members joined regional members of the Patriot Guard in lining the streets around the church with U.S. flags.

Marines from his platoon that are still stationed in Afghanistan held their own memorial last Friday at their base.

A press release produced by the platoon about the ceremony provided a poignant example of Erickson's character: On the day Erickson was killed, Cpl. Martin McNamara missed the unit's brief meal break because he was busy prepping his vehicle. When the other Marines returned, Erickson brought McNamara a large tray of food. McNamara said he had not asked for any food and had not expected to be brought anything.

Similarly, Staff Sgt. Jose Pimienta, who attended the Waseca funeral to represent Erickson's platoon, shared his memories of serving with Erickson. Pimienta made the trip despite the fact he is still recovering from knee surgery he received last Friday.

Pimienta said he clearly remembers being assigned to help find soldiers from the platoon to be sent home ahead of schedule last December. He said he asked Erickson if he was interested, but Erickson flatly refused the offer.

"He said 'I'll go back when everyone goes back.' That's the kind of guy he was. We all really wanted to go home, but he didn't want to feel like he had abandoned his fellow Marines," Pimienta said. "I still picture him every time I close my eyes."

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