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Christopher Cromer

LORAIN -- The death of Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes, a well-liked 2004 Lorain Admiral King graduate, has been hard on all who knew him. Barnes, 20, was killed June 10 when his convoy was struck by a roadside bomb about 120 miles south of Baghdad.

Barnes' death has been particularly tough for Kenneth Cromer and his family -- Cromer's son, Staff Sgt. Christopher Cromer, 23, is also in the Air Force, working on the same convoy duty Barnes was doing when he was killed.

''There's some sleepless nights, I can tell you that,'' Kenneth Cromer said yesterday.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Cromer and Barnes met in training at Camp Bullis, according to Kenneth Cromer. The two remained friends while serving in the Middle East, he said.

''They had run into each other numerous times over there,'' Kenneth Cromer said. ''They're in the same unit, but they were not in the same team on the day Eric was killed.''

Kenneth Cromer said his son works in convoys delivering supplies to various bases in Iraq, as did Barnes. Barnes was riding in the lead truck in a convoy when he was killed last week.

''They planned on getting together and talking some more about growing up in Lorain,'' Kenneth Cromer said. ''They went to the same schools, and had some of the same teachers.

He added, ''(Barnes' death) has been difficult for Chris. And it's certainly difficult for us, knowing he's doing the same thing.''

Christopher Cromer, a 2002 Lorain Admiral King graduate, is on his third deployment in Iraq.

His father said Christopher found out about Barnes' death last week and called home to tell his parents.

''He found out about it ... and called us one night around midnight,'' Kenneth Cromer said. ''He was really much upset about it. He certainly recognized that Eric was a pretty special guy.''

Visiting hours for Barnes will be from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes' alma mater, Lorain Admiral King High School.

Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, also at Lorain Admiral King. Burial will follow in Elmwood Cemetery.

Residents wishing to show their support for Barnes and his family are asked to line the procession route on Oberlin Avenue from Meister Road south to Cooper Foster Park Road.

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