Eric Holman was motivated, meticulous and strong-willed.
Those qualities had served him well during his nine-year Army career, according to his stepmother, Jan Holman.
Staff Sgt. Holman, a 1990 Avonworth graduate, was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan's Ghazni province by an improvised explosive device, according to the Department of Defense. He was 39.
A large contingent of family members, including his mother, Carol, of Franklin Park, and his father David and stepmother, of Forward Township, Butler County, were at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, when his body was brought back to the United States this morning.
"He had planned to make the Army a career," Jan Holman said. "He liked everything about it."
After graduating from Penn State in 1995 with a degree in criminal justice, Sgt. Holman held a variety of jobs. He drove cross-country for his father's trucking company, operated a limousine service and did construction work.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he joined the Army as an enlisted man at age 29. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division and became a member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team. "They were like a family for him," his stepmother said.
About three years ago he began training as an explosive ordnance disposal, or EOD, specialist. Assigned to the 192nd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, 20th Support Command, he had been stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. He had looked forward to his deployment in Afghanistan, which began in January, Jan Holman said. He was scheduled to come home in September.
He had been on patrol with a U.S. Special Forces team in the Afghan mountains when he was killed.
Sgt. Holman had kept in weekly email and phone contact with his father. "He was my husband's buddy," his stepmother said. "They were very close."
In addition to his parents, Sgt. Holman is survived by a seven-year-old son, Misha; a brother, Kevin, of Edinboro; and a sister, Lisa Long, of Evans City. He and his wife Terri had been separated.
Funeral arrangements are to be announced next week.
Len Barcousky: email@example.com or 412-263-1159. First Published August 18, 2012 4:00 AM