CHICAGO, IL, USA U.S. Army SGT, BATTERY A, 2D BATTALION, 17TH FIELD ARTILLERY, FORT CARSON, CO RUSTAMIYAH, IRAQ 07/06/2007
Sergeant Eric Lill of Chicago, Illinois died July 6, 2007 in Rustamiyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad. An interpreter was also killed and three other soldiers were wounded in the attack. Eric was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. He was twenty-eight years old. His unit was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After September 11, 2001, Eric tried to join the military, but it was not as simple as Eric had expected. The Army initially rejected the former hockey player because he was overweight. Rather than give up, Eric started working out on his own, and by February 2002 he had dropped from 245 pounds down to 198 pounds, 40 pounds in 4 months, on his 6-foot frame. “He had a hard time making the weight limit,” says his father, “but he worked out so he could make the qualifications.” He was determined not to let the rejection get the better of him. He enlisted in 2002. Once he was on active duty he would tell family not to worry about him and that he’d be coming home. He was definitely doing what he wanted to do. Eric’s family figured that Eric told them duty was boring so that they would not worry so much about him.
Eric grew up in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood and attended St. Laurence High School in Burbank. Eric had a police career in mind when he was younger, but he also talked about joining the FBI. He played hockey at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., where he studied briefly before enlisting, but he dropped out of college to return home to marry his sweetheart. He had planned to return to Bridgeport after his service.