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LORAIN -- For the second time in six weeks, the Iraq War has claimed a young life from Lorain County. Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes, 20, was killed Saturday night while riding in the lead truck in a convoy about 120 miles south of Baghdad, according to his father Tom Barnes of Osborn Avenue in Lorain. The Barnes family was notified about 2:30 a.m. yesterday by a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force ROTC detachment in Kent, Barnes said.
Barnes's death follows that of Army Sgt. Norman Lane Tollet, 30, of Elyria, who died April 28 in Iraq.
Eric Barnes, a 2004 graduate of Lorain Admiral King High School, was killed by a roadside bomb, his father said. The driver of the truck suffered several broken bones and head injuries, according to Barnes.
Eric, a lanky 6-feet-6 inches, was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was due to report to an Air Force base in Anchorage, Alaska, in November, according to Tom Barnes. The young airman was planning a career in the service, his parents said.
''Eric wanted to be in the Air Force since he was a little boy,'' his mother, Shary Barnes, said. ''He believed he needed to be there (in Iraq). That's why he volunteered for a second tour.'' Eric was planning to start courses in November to help him move up in the ranks, according to his parents.
Last night, Tom and Shary Barnes, both 55, recalled a son who enjoyed playing baseball, camping and other outdoor activities and made friends wherever he went. Friends and family filled the Barnes's two-story Lorain home yesterday, offering comfort in a time of tragedy.
Dale Barnes, 19, remembered an older brother with whom he shared many happy times.
''We did everything together,'' Dale Barnes said, choking back tears. ''He was the best brother anyone could ask for. We will all miss him.''
Eric played as a catcher and outfielder for Admiral King and in Lorain Youth Baseball. He was an avid bowler who played a 300 game at age 18 in an adult league at Rebman's Recreation, earning a ring from the American Bowling Congress. He earned Eagle Scout ranking just before his 18th birthday, his father said.
Chuck Strausser was an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 397 in Lorain, Eric's troop. Strausser said he helped Eric with his Eagle badge project, a wheelchair ramp for the Murray Ridge Production Center in Oberlin.
''Eric was a typical boy coming through scouts,'' Strausser said. ''He loved camping. When it was his turn to be senior patrol leader, he was very impressive. He led by example. He made camping fun for the younger boys.''
Shary Barnes said her son grew his blonde hair long in high school to donate to Locks of Love, an organization that provides wigs for those with hair loss. The gesture was typical of the young man, who was always thinking of others, she said. He enjoyed the music and psychedelic styles of the 1970s, she said, posing in a brightly colored tie-dyed shirt for his 2004 high school graduation photo.
Tom Barnes said Eric served in a transportation unit in Iraq.
''They always drove at night,'' Barnes said. On Saturday night, Eric could have been delivering food, uniforms, weapons, ammunition or even water, according to Barnes.
''He would have wanted to be remembered for always doing his best,'' Barnes said.
Funeral arrangements for Eric Barnes have not yet been announced.
Army Sgt. Bruce Horner, 43, a former Lorain resident and 1982 Lorain Admiral King graduate, was killed by a sniper June 1 about 30 miles south of Baghdad. Horner, a member of the 127th military police company, had lived with his wife in Newport News, Va. for 11 years and had started his tour in Iraq last November. His parents, Ed and Betty Horner, formerly of Lorain, live in Cleveland.
sallyn@morningjournal.com ©The Morning Journal 2007

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