An athlete, a fan of Irish and patriotic country music, a wicked video gamer and rugby player, Eric loved his country and his Catholic faith. He was 20 years old when he died. Eric was born at Madigan Army hospital at Fort Lewis, Washington. His father, Eric Herzberg, was an Army officer at the time.
When Eric was four years old, the family moved to Greenville, South Carolina. Eric was involved in gymnastics, soccer, and baseball as a young child. He also enjoyed tormenting his sister Katie, who was two years older than him. His brother Matthew was born two years after Eric. Matthew and Eric were best friends for their entire life.
All three kids enjoyed jumping on a little trampoline setup in Katie’s room. They especially enjoyed pushing each other off and seeing who could make the most consecutive jumps from the trampoline to Katie’s bed and back. It was during this time that Eric announced his patriotic intentions because he loved to sing “You’re a Grand Ole Flag” while jumping on the trampoline.When Eric was 9 years old, the family moved to Nova Scotia, Canada. This was just before the 1996 Olympics. Eric again showed his patriotic fervor when he would become incensed at television commercials extolling the virtues of various Canadian Olympic teams at the expense of the United States teams.
In June of 2000, when Eric was 14, the family moved to Severna Park, Maryland. It was this point that Eric discovered a love of paintball. He and Matthew would play as much as possible. Both boys became very skilled at not getting hit and shooting their father multiple times, sometimes even when he was on the same team as them.
During his freshman year at Severna Park high school, Eric decided to try out for the football team. This was challenging enough, especially for being the new kid in town. The fact that Eric had NEVER played football probably didn’t even enter his mind. He played Junior Varsity that year on defense. Even though he was not as experienced as other players, Eric gave 110% on every play and never quit.The next year, as a sophomore, Eric decided to try out for wrestling. His wrestling coach, Paul Joyce, who now mentors Matthew, remembered Eric’s manners and even keel from working with him on the junior varsity wrestling and football squads.
“He was a coach’s dream,” Mr. Joyce said. “I never had to yell at him for lack of effort. He might not have been one of the better players, but it was not from lack of effort.”
The coach said Eric was a great kid, “never absent, never cursing, and was never in trouble.”
And the young man’s manners were impeccable, he said, not just when in front of adults: “He was that kind of kid 365 days a year, perfectly mannered and did whatever you needed.”
Looking for something to keep them occupied after football season, Matthew and Eric decided to try rugby. Both boys were relatively small compared to the other players but they were ferocious hitters. They both loved the physical challenge of the competition. I also think they enjoyed being covered with mud. Matthew and Eric also played together on the Severna Park 16 and under soccer team for the next two years. This team was virtually unbeatable during this time. Soccer was probably Eric’s best sport. He earned a nickname of “The Iron Curtain” from his teammates because of his defensive play. Both he and Matthew competed with each other and with other players over the internet in various video games during this time as well.
When the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, Eric started to discuss joining the military in earnest. He wanted to make a difference and help prevent these attacks from happening again. His early intentions were to join the Army and become an Airborne Ranger. He wanted to be part of the elite. He soon changed his mind about the Army because “the training wasn’t as intense as the Marines”. He signed an early intent letter and began working out with other future Marines every Saturday during the end of his junior year in high school. He continued to work out every Saturday in his senior year. His Roman Catholic faith also guided his decision to join the Marines and helped him convince his mother of the surety of his vocation. He viewed his desire to serve in the military as a “calling”.
After high school graduation, Eric joined the Marine Corps. He announced his intention to “go to Iraq and be in the front lines so I can make a difference”. He successfully completed boot camp in October of 2005 and the School of Infantry in March of 2006. Eric was assigned to his regular unit as a machine gunner with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force headquartered in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Eric deployed to Iraq on July 14, 2006. The official U.S. Department of Defense statement said he was killed October 21, 2006, “while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province.” A Web site tracking casualties noted that he was a victim of “hostile fire.”
Eric is survived by his mother, Gina Barnhurst, father Eric Herzberg, sister Katie and brother Matthew. Katie graduated from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania in 2007 with a degree in biology. She is currently attending the Ross School of Veterinary Medicine in the West Indies. Matthew recently graduated from Severna Park high school. He is attending Towson University near Baltimore studying psychology.
To Eric’s loving family, my heartfelt condolences to you for the sacrifice your son made for me. I come from a military family too and know well the feeling of being proud of a grandfather, father, and sibling serving our country. My brother is in Afghanistan right now. Your story of Eric’s life is full of loving memories of his family and friends and although he was with you for too short a time, I am positive that he did what all military soldiers do….believed strongly in himself, loved his family without reserve, and was willing to die for his country. Sadly, he ultimately paid the price for those values he loved. Thank you for raising such a man. God bless.
As a former Combat Medic with the United States Army I can understand the sacrifice your wonderful son made. As a mother of two young boys ages ten and twelve, one of which has big plans to join the Navy already, my heart both bursts with pride for your son’s sacrifice and the man he was, and aches for your loss. May God bless your family and may your sweet son rest in peace, what a wonderful and honorable young man. <3
To Herzberg family,
I as a human being, living in a third country, feel so sorry about what happened to your beloved Eric. If he is still alive, he will be as my age, 25 years. After reading the story above I can feel that there may be some connections between me and your family in the past life. I myself as a Buddhist wish all good deeds I have done will be his boon in his next life. And all of the Gods in this world bless him.
Rest in Peace Eric – Thank You
Words can never express enough Thanks for what your son did for our country. I am a sister of a United States Marine, and your son’s ambition and attitude is so similar to that of my brother, who is 23. He has had two tours to Iraq and Afghan. and am incredibly proud to say that he is my brother. It’s the dedication of these men and women of our military that allow us to be here today, in the land that we call The United States of America. Your son was a brave soldier and will always be remembered.
To the Herzberg family, My heart goes out to you all for your loss of such a fine son and brother. May God enfold him in love & peace and bless your family for its sacrifice. Semper Fi!
All who have fallen are my brothers. Well done.
My heart goes out to your family. My God hold you in his loving arms. As a Mom of two young men who felt they were called to the Army I can’t imagine your pain. Many thanks to your son for giving all for me and my family.
Dear Herzberg family:
Today, we are praying for you as you grieve the loss of Eric, a truly brave young man. Undoubtedly, it does not get any easier as the days and years pass, but we pray that God will bring strength, hope and peace into your lives in time.
The McDowell Family in CO
Deepest condolences to all of Eric’s family and friends.Your bravery and honor means a lot to us all in the UK.
God Bless you Eric and your Family. Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice.
We will never forget your son. May your son rest in eternal peace in the House of our Creator. And may you be comforted knowing that he followed his calling.
I just wanted to thank u for what you did for our country, may you R.I.P, you will never be forgotten.
As I log on the preserveandhonor website, Eric’s sacrifice for our country is the story I read, tears fill my eyes, as I write, I can’t even begin to express my absolute respect for Eric and his family. There are no words that can be said to make the pain go away, the only consolation could be knowing what my son tells me (from far, far away) I am at the right place, at the right time in my life and this is what I want to do and would not change it.
With all my respect,
My humble salute…..