Fallen Soldier From Murrieta Honored With Flag Raising

Members of the American Legion Chapter 852 Patriot Guard Riders salute as a flag is raised in honor of Sgt. Eric Williams. Janet Williams ...

Members of the American Legion Chapter 852 Patriot Guard Riders salute as a flag is raised in honor of Sgt. Eric Williams.
Janet Williams watched with pride as an American flag from the Williams family was raised over the Murrieta Police Department and Town Center in honor of her son Eric on the morning of July 23.

Sgt. Eric Williams, a flight medic with the 82nd Airborne Division, was killed by mortar fire in Afghanistan on July 23, 2012. Family and friends joined members of the American Legion Chapter 852 Patriot Guard Riders, Murrieta police and fire officers, and fire Explorers in honoring Williams' memory on the second anniversary of his death.

"This means people still remember him," Janet Williams said. "Everyone in town knew him."

The flag raising was the first in a new program started by the Murrieta Police Department to honor fallen heroes. Residents can request to have the American flag that was presented to their fallen hero at the memorial service to be flown in front of the civic center for a brief period of time.

Janet Williams (left) said the flag being flown from now until Eric's birthday on Sept. 5 was presented by Eric to his grandmother at the funeral of his grandfather, World War II Army Air Corps pilot Ralph L. Retzlaff.

"I couldn't part with Eric's flag, but I knew this flag would be special because Eric presented it to his grandmother," Janet Williams said.

One of those paying tribute to Eric today was Tony Ruiz, a member of the American Legion Patriot Guard Riders. Tony lost his son, Sgt. Clinton Ruiz, in Afghanistan in October 2012.

"We always remember the Angel-versary," Ruiz said, referring to the term used to recognize the anniversary of fallen "angels."

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