'She was greatly loved and will be greatly missed'

'She was greatly loved and will be greatly missed' »Play Video
Robert McLyman kisses the casket containing the body of his daughter, Pfc. Erin McLyman, who was killed in Iraq.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Citizens braved the wind and the rain to wave American flags as the funeral procession for an Oregon soldier rolled through the streets of Eugene on Thursday en route to a memorial service.

Private First Class Erin Leigh McLyman died March 13, 2010, in a mortar attack on her base in Iraq.

She was 26 years old.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski spoke at the ceremony Thursday, continuing his pledge to attend services for Oregon service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Pfc. McLyman was, quite simply, the best Oregon and our nation has to give," said Kulongoski.

McLyman's father Robert McLyman also spoke at the service and invited the crowd to share their stories at a reception after the memorial.  He read a poem, written by an anonymous author, that he said best expressed his feelings.

Father Ralph Haynes offered the invocation at the Eugene Faith Center.

McLyman was born May 10, 1983, at Sacred Heart hospital in Eugene, Ore., to Robert and Flora McLyman.

McLyman had overcome problems with drugs and alcohol as a teen and shared her inspiring story with KVAL News in 2001.

Kulongoski said he watched the story online, making her very different from other fallen service men and women, because he was able to see and hear from her. 

"I very much count myself among those who have been inspired by Erin's short but powerful, and consequential life," said Kulongoski.

After graduation from Sheldon High School, she enlisted in the Air Force. She later re-enlisted with the Oregon National Guard and returned to active duty with the U.S. Army.

She deployed in August 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., she was a member of the 296th Brigade Support Battalion 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. During her service, she earned several honors, such as the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon and Army Service Ribbon.

She married Brian Williams on Dec. 15, 2007. The couple shared a home in Federal Way, Wash, with their dog and cat, both of which McLyman had rescued.

"She lived every moment like she didn't have a second to spare," her family wrote. "She was greatly loved and will be greatly missed."

Gov. Ted Kulongoski pauses at Pfc. Erin McLyman's casket Thursday before speaking at the memorial.