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Family Remembers Soldier Killed in Iraq

Family Remembers Soldier Killed in Iraq

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Tonya Papanikolas Reporting As we first reported Saturday, Eric Sieger was killed in Iraq this weekend in what appears to have been a driving accident. Tonya Papanikolas spoke with the young man's family. They told her the soldier known for his big heart and desire to help people was always afraid he wouldn't come back home.

Eighteen-year-old Eric Sieger always wanted to be in the military.

Airman 1st Class James Sieger, Brother: "I knew that's what he wanted, what we both wanted since we were little."

His family says he had what it took to be a good soldier.

Wolfgang Sieger, Father: "He took his duties very seriously."

Wolfgang Sieger, Father: "He very much enjoyed joining the military and doing what he was doing."

But his parents say he didn't enjoy serving in Iraq.

Wolfgang Sieger: "He didn't feel like the Iraqi people appreciated his presence."

And before he left, he had a bad feeling.

Krista Sieger, Mother: "Before he left, he said, ‘I'm not coming back. If I come back, I come back in a casket.'"

Eric's mother says she had a similar feeling, but never told her son.

Krista Sieger: "I wanted to encourage him because he had to go."

Eric was scheduled for a two-week vacation next month, but Friday morning his parents learned their son had died when the armored vehicle he was driving rolled.

Krista Sieger: "It was a nightmare."

The Siegers say they're now drawing strength from the community support, their family and their faith.

Krista Sieger: "I know Eric is with us in spirit."

They are also cherishing the last items Eric gave them -- a military coin for his dad, a Utah belt buckle for his mom and his cavalry flag for the family. Eric's parents say in the midst of a challenging situation, their son exhibited strength and courage.

Krista: "He felt since he was in the army, since he took the oath, he has to do everything he was asked to do. And he did."

Wolfgang: "I would call him a hero. He is definitely a hero in my sight. I honor him as a hero."

Eric was adopted into a family of 15 kids. His father says, after watching Eric survive the bumpy teenage years, he's going to miss not being able to see his son as a grown man.

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