Former Mass. resident killed in Afghanistan laid to rest
Flags across the state were lowered to half-staff Friday in honor of Army Sergeant First Class Eric Michael Emond, a former Massachusetts resident who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, on Nov. 27.
Emond, 39, was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, according to state Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Francisco Ureña.
Emond grew up in Fall River and was educated in the local public schools until the end of his sophomore year in high school, when he moved to Arkansas, according to school officials. He later moved back to Massachusetts and lived in Dorchester.
Emond served seven tours of duty overseas and helped create Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, a nonprofit that assists veterans and provides a support network for Gold Star families.
On Friday morning, Massachusetts Fallen Heroes posted a tribute to Emond on Facebook.
“Seldom do we ever meet a man whose devotion to country and self-sacrifice become more important than life itself,” the Facebook post said. “Sergeant First Class Eric Michael Emond exemplifies this rare character. It was not by chance that Eric touched the lives of so many and has left an everlasting imprint of inspiration. Eric was a Marines’ Marine and the Special Forces Operator all others envied.”
Emond was a 21-year military veteran who began his career in the Marine Corps as a scout sniper, according to the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes website. After completing Army Ranger School and deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, he then joined the Army Special Forces Green Berets, the website said.
In 2009, during his fourth deployment to Afghanistan, he was wounded by a rocket propelled grenade during an ambush but “continued to engage the enemy over a 5-hour period, saving the lives of several teammates,” the website said. He suffered brain and spinal injuries and could have received a medical discharge, but instead he fought to stay in the Army and returned to active duty, the website said.
Emond was one of three Special Forces soldiers who died from injuries after their vehicle was struck “by an improvised explosive device in Andar,” the Department of Defense said in a statement at the time. Andar, a town in Ghazni province, is in an area south of Kabul, where the Taliban have been resurgent.
Emond most recently lived in Brush Prairie, Wash., and was assigned to First Battalion, Third Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, according to the Department of Defense.
Massachusetts Fallen Heroes cofounder Greg Kelly befriended Emond in Special Forces sniper school and described him as a family man who was always smiling and joking around.
“He was a guy who would help anybody he could,” Kelly said in a telephone interview. “He helped a lot [of] people.”
Kelly said it would have been Emond’s last deployment. Retirement wasn’t that far away for him.
Emond attended the Osborn and Healy elementary schools, the Henry Lord middle school, and Durfee High School, according to Fall River Schools Superintendent Matthew H. Malone.
Malone said Emond earned good grades as a student and he was a member of the high school wrestling team.
“He’s highly decorated,” Malone said in a telephone interview. “He was wounded in action. He could’ve gotten out [of the Army]. But he didn’t. . . . He was just a real, true patriot. A true American hero . . . He went all out to the end.”
Malone said Emond served “unselfishly” and that his death was a “terrible tragedy.”
Emond leaves his wife and three daughters. He received the Bronze Star for heroism three times, and his awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, and more than a dozen others.