September 18, 2014

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Body of slain airman arrives back home

NEW RUSSIA TWP. — A small group of friends and relatives lined the tarmac at Lorain County Regional Airport on Sunday morning to welcome home the body of Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes.
Barnes, 20, of Lorain, was killed June 10 by an improvised explosive device while on convoy delivery duty
100 miles south of Baghdad.
Visiting friends and family hugged and waved small American flags as they waited for the plane carrying Barnes’ body to land.
Just after 9 a.m., the Air Force and Lorain Police honor guards on hand at the airport drew to attention and saluted a small jet plane as it landed on the tarmac, carrying Barnes home.
Slowly, a white casket blanketed in an American flag was removed from the plane and placed on the shoulders of the Air Force honor guard who walked Barnes over to a waiting hearse.
With the casket stowed safely inside the hearse, the police honor guard slowly pulled away from the tarmac with Barnes’ family following in a pair of limousines to Boyer and Cool Funeral Home on West Fifth Street in Lorain.
As the hearse pulled away, decorated Vietnam veteran Joe Horvath of Amherst saluted Barnes while holding a large American flag.
“I didn’t want this to go unseen,” Horvath said. “I knew Eric (Barnes) when he was born. I’m one of his father’s best friends.”
Barnes was born in Lorain in 1986 and graduated from Lorain Admiral King High School in 2004, where he was active in the marching band, the baseball team and the bowling team.
An Eagle Scout, Barnes enlisted in the military in May 2005 and served his first tour of duty in Iraq from April to November 2006.
Upon his return to Lorain, Barnes immediately signed up for another tour.
“I’ll never understand it,” his mother, Shary Barnes, said before her son’s body was returned home. “But he felt he needed to go back. We backed him up 100 percent.”
As a convoy truck driver, Barnes held a dangerous job delivering items to bases around Baghdad. On June 10, he was riding as a passenger in the lead truck of a convoy 100 miles south of Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated as his vehicle passed. He died on the way to a medical facility in the Green Zone in Baghdad.
Contact Joe Medici at 329-7152 or jmedici@chroniclet.com.

AIRMAN 1ST CLASS ERIC BARNES
Age: 20
Killed: June 10, by an improvised explosive device while on convoy duty

Funeral services for Airman First Class Eric Barnes will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at Lorain Admiral King High School. Residents who wish to show their support are being asked to line the procession route on Oberlin Avenue from Meister Road south to Cooper Foster Park Road.

061807airman.jpgCHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Joe Horvath, a decorated Vietnam veteran from Amherst, salutes the hearse carrying Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes as Barnes’ body arrives at Lorain County Regional Airport