Erich Smallwood, 23, was a member of Bravo Company of the 87th Troop Command’s 875th Engineer Battalion. Smallwood was serving with the battalion’s Alpha Company, First Platoon..
TRUMANN — Those who knew Spc. Erich Smallwood said the Trumann native was an All-American kid from small town America.
On a trip through Trumann on Tuesday, the outpouring of emotions could be seen through tributes and flags flying at half-staff to honor their native son, who served in the 875th for nearly four years.
Smallwood, 23, who died Saturday in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle, was remembered fondly Tuesday by friends and family.
Trumann High School Principal Jim Montgomery said Smallwood, who played running back on the school’s football team and wore No. 20, was a special young man.
“He was a hard worker. He kidded around a lot and always had a smile on his face.”
Montgomery, who was an assistant coach on the 2001 team when Smallwood played, said the player was much like many of the young men on the team and the school.
Spc. Erich Smallwood and his brother enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard, not to see the world, but according to his brother-in-law, to defend our country so his family and country don’t have to go through what the people in Iraq have.
Jon Redman of Jonesboro, who is Smallwood’s brother-in-law, said his family member made an impression on everyone he met.
“He was the funniest person I have ever met. He loved playing video games and going to the river. As a matter of fact, he probably would have went to the river on Memorial Day if he were home.”
Redman noted Smallwood loved his family, his sister and his brother, J.T., who is currently in Iraq.
“He had a tough life, but he pulled through. He, his brother and his sister are brave, and they pulled through to make a life for themselves.”
Redman said his brother-in-law also believed in the cause that he fought and ultimately died for.
“He believed in the war effort, and he was willing to fight. On one of his trips back, he said he was willing to fight because he did not want my wife or her daughter to go through what the Iraqi people went through.”
Redman noted the outpouring of comments from area residents in the past few days have been supportive.
“The people in Trumann and our neighbors have been overwhelming. No matter what a person may think of the war effort, the people here support the troops.”
Montgomery said residents in the Poinsett County community, which has roughly 10 people currently serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan, constantly think about those serving.
“We talk about them all of the time. At the school, I will ask their children about them, how they are doing. Right now, one of our hometown people is on leave. So, we think about them, and we pray for them,” Montgomery said.
Amy Schlesing writes, The fatigue of war is held deep in the gut
May God comfort Spc. Smallwood’s family and lift up his fellow troops.
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