Eric loved life, and he packed alot of living into his 43 years. He was passionate and opinionated about everything. Sometimes life with Eric was difficult, but it was never boring.
Always the explorer, Eric wanted to know how everything worked. That especially pertained to airplanes. Besides being a pilot, he was also an aerospace engineer and a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic. His 9 year career in the Air Force took us all over the world where we explored other countries and cultures and ancient history. Eric was immensely proud to be an F-15 fighter pilot at Soesterberg--at the time considered to be the premiere assignment in the Air Force.
Eric loved all the planes he flew, but I have to tell you that his heart was always with that F-15. Many times I would see Eric gazing at an F-15 shooting skyward, and he would sigh just a little. But Eric was always pushing the envelope and moving onward, and he didn't dwell in the past. He had new challenges to meet, new adventures to live, and new planes to fly.
Eric was a bundle of energy. That's something I loved about him. Another thing I loved about Eric was his sense of humor. He was always the life of the party and had a knack for getting people to laugh. He was irreverant at times, but always respectful--of his bosses, of other people's beliefs. Eric was a man of strong ethics and integrity. It always bothered him when people wouldn't take responsibility in their lives. In the 23 years I have known Eric, I never once heard him blaming people or saying things weren't fair. Eric used to say that "shit happens and that doesn't mean it's somebody's fault".
Eric was a sensitive soul who truly loved animals and nature as much as I do. It is said of some people that they never stopped to "smell the roses". That was not true of Eric. He appreciated the sunset, gazing at the stars, and the cardinals on our back deck. But mostly Eric loved me and our two beautiful daughters. When I look at our children, I know that Eric is not truly gone because I see him in their eyes.
Eric fought bravely for 36 days. He gave it his absolute best, like everything he did in life. But in the end, the injuires were just too severe, the burns too deep. I think Eric would want me to thank the wonderful people at the Via Christi Burn Center who took such good care of him and tried their best to save him. Eric went peacefully and with dignity, surrounded by his entire family.
I am so lucky to have been married to Eric for 20 exciting years. We met at Parks College when I was 18 and he was 20. Our first date was in an airplane, and he taught me to fly. I used to tease him that I knew when to put the flaps down, thank you very much, and I would tape his mouth if he didn't shut up. Eric always believed in me and encouraged me to be all that I could. He never gave up on me or our love. He was always "my guy" and the only love I ever had.
I want to thank Eric's parents for bringing into the world the most incredible man that ever lived, and for treating me like their daughter for all these years. Eric told me many times that no one ever had parents as wonderful as his.
Eric touched the lives of so many people. He did make a difference in the aviation community, just as he said he wanted to. I thank you all for your love and for being his friend. Eric was a hero and that's how I know we will all remember him.
Good-bye my wonderful and brave Eric.