Mississippi Army soldier killed in Afghanistan

Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Army Sgt. Eric C. Newman was decorated for his military service in Iraq. He gave his life in Afghanistan.

The military says the 30-year-old soldier from Waynesboro died in a bombing Thursday in Akatzai Kalay, Afghanistan.

Newman joined the Army in 2006 and soon deployed to Iraq. He went to Afghanistan with the 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

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Waynesboro Mayor Joe Taylor told The Clarion-Ledger newspaper that Newman’s death was a blow to the town of about 5,500, where many people knew Newman and described him as a brave man with a big heart and easygoing personality. Taylor said Saturday that Newman’s mother was traveling to meet his remains at Dover Air Force Base.

“I thought the world of him. It hit me, it floored me,” Taylor said. “I couldn’t believe what they were telling me when they said he’d gotten killed.”

“He was an outstanding individual,” Waynesboro Police Chief James Bunch said. “And it doesn’t surprise me at all that he would sacrifice himself for his country.”

Bunch said Newman worked for the police department several years ago before joining the military.

Scott Bunch, a firefighter in Waynesboro, served in the junior ROTC with Eric Newman at Wayne County High School, where Newman was a year ahead of him.

“You knew when he sets his mind to doing something, he goes all out,” Scott Bunch said. “This is a real tragedy, but I know he did it serving his country.”

Newman is the third Mississippi soldier to die in Afghanistan in about a month. Marine Pfc. Joshua Ose, 19, of Hernando died in Afghanistan Sept. 21. Army Pfc. William Brandon, 20, of Tunica was killed there Sept. 25.

At least 78 people from Mississippi or with strong ties to the state have died while serving in the military in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.