Memorial will honor Federal Way fallen soldier Erin McLyman

Erin McLyman - Courtesy photo
Erin McLyman
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A memorial service is slated for March 31 to honor Pfc. Erin McLyman of Federal Way.

McLyman, 26, died March 13 in Balad, Iraq, as a result of wounds from enemy mortar fire, according to the Department of Defense. The memorial will begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday at JBLM-Lewis Main Chapel at Ft. Lewis.

Among those saying goodbye will be members of Federal Way High School's JROTC program, whom McLyman befriended through her work at the school.

McLyman worked at the Army recruiting office in Federal Way and would visit the JROTC students. When Master Sgt. Will Smith found out she was once in the Air Force, he recruited her to help out with the different color guard teams at the school, giving them pointers and helping with their training.

"Through that process we got to know her," Smith said. "They felt she cared."

Cadet Zach Herring said that McLyman would spend time shuttling them to their different events and competitions.

"It was just special," Smith said. "She wasn't a cadet, but she was here like a cadet. She became family. She just cared."

Cadet Danielle Tanielu said that thanks to McLyman's support, she is now a commander for her color guard team.

"She gave me tips," Tanielu said. "She motivated me to lead. I will always remember her supporting me."

The last time Herring said he saw McLyman was just before she began military service in December 2008. McLyman's brigade deployed to Iraq in August 2009.

"She had a good spirit," Herring said. "She loved what she did."

The FWHS JROTC found out that McLyman had been killed in Iraq through an article in the Seattle Times.

"It was a shock," Herring said. "No one expected her to be in a direct conflict zone."

To honor McLyman, the Federal Way JROTC did a special military flag raising March 23, when flags were ordered at half staff to commemorate her.

McLyman was assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

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