An East Texas Soldier Is Laid To Rest - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/17/06-Tyler

An East Texas Soldier Is Laid To Rest

An East Texas soldier is laid to rest today, with full military honors. Army Specialist Eric Forbis of Whitehouse died last Sunday when he lost control of his car and hit a tree near Austin. He had served a year in Iraq. Eric earned a purple heart when he stepped on a land mine. Dozens of soldiers joined Eric's family and friends today to celebrate his life.

"He was the best friend you could ever ask for," said Lisa Cullen, Eric's friend. "If you were ever in trouble or ever needed him he was always there for you."

"Best friend I ever had," said Specialist William Burrus, Eric's friend. "He knew all my secrets and I knew all of his." Eric joined the military four years ago.

"After 9-11 it made him feel angry what happened as it did everyone and he wanted to be in the military because he wanted to protect this country," said Cullen. Those that served with Eric in Iraq made the trip from Fort Hood today, to pay their respects to the guy who made them laugh.

"He always lightened the mood," said Specialist Burrus. "In Iraq when it would be hard and stressful he always made some stupid comment and we would start rolling laughing."

"It would be a real dull boring day and he would just say some smart remark or something and he would get the whole track going," said Specialist Jonathan Brief, Eric's friend. While he was in Iraq Eric stepped on a land mine, but two weeks later he was back on patrol.

"Nothing ever got Eric down, nothing," said Cullen. "You could not bring Eric down. He was the most strong person and wonderful person." This afternoon, Eric's family was honored with the 21 gun salute, and then presented with the American flag. It was full military honors for someone who gave our country so much.

Along with soldiers, a group of men and woman on motorcycles attended Eric's funeral today. They call themselves Patriot Guard Riders, and they ride to funerals of fallen soldiers to honor them and their families. About ten riders from around East Texas attended Eric's funeral today. They only attend a funeral if they are asked to be there. When they get to the burial site, they hold up flags in honor of the soldier. Many of the riders are veterans themselves.

"We stand silently," said Doug Smith, Patriot Guard Rider. "If we are asked to participate, or in one funeral the Patriot Guard Riders were actually asked to be the pallbearers and we're glad to do that. We're glad to help anyway possible, but mainly we are just there to show respect." Right now, there are about 600 riders in Texas.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

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