Cpl. Eric Wozencraft was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma on February 19, 1986. Although he lived from Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arizona, he spent the real formative years of his childhood in Girdwood, Alaska. While in the Army, joined November, 2005, he did his basic training at Ft. Benning, GA, and his Advanced Training (AIT) was also at Ft. Benning. He was trained to be indirect fire Mortar man. He was then assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, HHC (Headquarters and Headquarters Company. After his training, he was stationed in Ft. Stewart, Georgia for about four weeks, and then on April 15, 2005, he was sent to FOB Razor Iraq, near Samarra to meet up with his unit. Upon arriving in Iraq, he didn’t want to hide down in the Humvee like typical Iraq rookies did. He wanted to take the gun turret position up on top. He came there to fight. Eric spent countless sleepless hours standing guard for his Base. He loved his gun, the M60. He returned from Iraq December 30, 2005. He was in charge of two squads within his platoon. He was highly respected by his platoon, and his Sergeants. They indicated that he was on “the fast track” to getting his Sergeant. Normally it would take 4 years to get there. Sgt. Ford said Eric would probably get it within 1 ½ years. Eric was asked to rewrite the safety procedures SOP for his 120mm Mortar, for he was the safety standard for all the company to follow. He was extremely physically fit. He even led General Lynch in PT one morning when the General stopped by for a surprise visit. Eric died on Sept. 5, 2006. He was 20 years old at the time of his death. Sergeant Cody Ford, a close friend, escorted his body back to Oklahoma.
Eric had two sisters that he dearly loved. They were so close, moving from one town to the next. He felt obligated to protect them both. When Eric died, Jennifer was 21, Eric was 20, and Kelly was 19. Eric also loved playing sports. From playing high school football, weight lifting, paint ball, and especially ice hockey. His long time Hockey coach referred to Eric as his “Rudy” of the team. The one without much talent, but gave everything he had, all from the heart, all the time. During his senior year of high school, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio on his own to play for a Junior Level Amateur Hockey team. He had transferred enough credits from his Sand Springs high school, in Oklahoma, to be eligible to graduate after the first semester in Ohio. He then came back to Sand Springs in March when the hockey season was over and worked a couple of jobs here and there. He thought he wanted to go to College, but realized early on that the college life wasn’t for him. Then in November 2005, he felt his call – to join the U.S. Army. He told me on Mother’s Day, “Mom, I’m prepared to die for my country”. That was not what a mother wanted to hear. Eric considered the Army like a giant hockey team, his band of brothers. Willing to give all to stand next to his unit and defend his country. We had a Sergeant even come to Eric’s services in Oklahoma from Colorado Springs, later telling us that Eric saved his life twice during the tour in Iraq. Eric had this infectious smile that came from deep within. “When you told him to do something, he did it with pure heart – nothing more, nothing less”, his hockey coach Chad McCloud said. He loved his country and would defend it with his life. He was that son that exceeded all of our parental expectations. He touched the lives of so many and was loved by all who knew him. He is dearly missed. When we now hear Toby Keith’s, “American Soldier”, or hear the “National Anthem”, we are filled with sorrow, reminded of our son’s unwavering service to his country and what a Hero he truly was.