SPRINGFIELD TWP, Mercer County — A Butler County soldier killed in Afghanistan was honored Tuesday, but not in the conventional manner.
Five members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team released Army Staff Sgt. Eric Holman’s ashes while parachuting over Skydive Pennsylvania on what would have been his 40th birthday.
Of course, this fit with Holman’s personality.
“He was not a watcher; he was a doer,” said his widow, Terri Holman.
Holman, 39, of Evans City was killed Aug. 15 when the bomb he was defusing detonated. He was a member of Fort Bragg’s 767th Explosive Ordnance Disposition Battalion when he died. Prior to that, he was a member of the Golden Knights.
Holman had been an instructor at Skydive Pennsylvania and regularly jumped there.
Dave Lewis, a Methodist minister and a skydiver, led the crowd in a prayer after the team completed its jump. He knew Holman well and often went skydiving with him.
“Eric was a personal friend of mine,” Lewis said.
Many of the more than 100 people who attended the memorial were skydivers. Attendees went skydiving before and after the ceremony.
Cecil Smith, owner of Skydive Pennsylvania, said that he knew Holman well. Holman features prominently in several pictures in the company’s building.
“I got a few jumps with him,” Smith said.
When the company moved to its current location 10 years ago, Holman helped clear the wooded area that is now the company’s landing zone.
“Eric was very instrumental in it,” Smith said.
Johnny Caldwell of Pittsburgh, like many people at the service, has done his share of skydiving with Holman.
“I made hundreds of jumps with him,” Caldwell said.
He said that Holman was a guy who would help anyone who needed it.
“Eric truly was that type of person,” Caldwell said.
Holman was a 1990 graduate of Avonworth High School and a 1995 graduate of Penn State University.
When he was a member of the Golden Knights, Holman performed at air shows and stadiums throughout the U.S.
He followed his passion of patriotism when he left the Golden Knights and entered explosive ordnance disposition training.