Eric Andrew Fifer was born in Columbus, Ga. His parents are divorced and remarried. He attended Bonny Kate School and South-Doyle Middle School, then went to live for a few years with his father. He completed his senior year at South-Doyle High School, then went directly into the Army.

He served in Afghanistan and left on Sept. 1 for his second deployment to Iraq.

Family, friends, I love you all.That was the last message sent by Sgt. Eric A. Fifer, 22, of the 82nd Airborne, to everyone on his e-mail list.

It was sent on Monday, Oct. 3. Four days later, Fifer, a South-Doyle High School graduate, was fatally wounded in a firefight when his dismounted patrol was attacked with small-arms fire in Haqlaniyah, Iraq, according to a Department of Defense press release.

Fifer’s parents, Bruce Eric Fifer of Ninety-Six, S.C., and Nancy Mellen of Knoxville, said he was shot in the chest. Another soldier also was killed in the firefight Friday, the Defense Department said. Both were with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Fifer may have had a premonition.

He told one of his friends right before he left that he was afraid this one would not end well, that he knew he was going somewhere really dangerous, Mellen said.

And she said there was something unsettling about his last message, sent the night before he left for what would be his final mission.

He was always a joker, and usually signed his e-mails ‘Eric Fifer, Regular Guy. Mellen said. “But this time, there was none of the joking stuff, and he just signed it ‘Eric Fifer.’ My sister told me she was struck by that, too.”

Fifer had wanted to be in the military since he was about 6 years old. His father retired from the Army in April as a captain.

We both knew the dangers (of Iraq), but we didn’t discuss that very much,” his father said. “The only advice I gave him was to stay alert, keep his eyes open and his head down.”

Mellen said her son was an upbeat person with a great sense of humor and was a devoted son.

One time when I was ill, when he was 8 years old, he would cook, lock up the house at night, help me with physical therapy,” she said. You could not ask for a better son. He never complained, not once. That’s the kind of person he was.

He was born in Columbus, Ga. His parents are divorced and remarried. He attended Bonny Kate School and South-Doyle Middle School, then went to live for a few years with his father. He completed his senior year at South-Doyle High School, then went directly into the Army.

He served in Afghanistan and left on Sept. 1 for his second deployment to Iraq.

He said things were getting a lot better, his father said. “He said that the kids were coming up and smiling more, that previously they had been more suspicious than friendly.”

He definitely knew that what he was doing was for the good, and that he was helping people,” Mellen said. “I’m just enormously proud of my son. I was proud of him even before he went into the military.”

A moment of silence for Fifer was held Monday at South-Doyle High School.

Funeral service will be 2:00 PM, Friday, October 14, 2005 at Smith Mortuary. Interment will follow in Mattox Cemetery in Wears Valley with full military honors. In lieu of flower memorial donations may be made to The Clint Black Fund, Families of Fallen Soldiers Fund c/o Fuffman & Associates, 1222 16th Ave. South, 3rd Floor, Nashville, TN 37212 in memory of Sgt. Fifer. Family will receive friends from 12:00 until 2:00 PM, Friday, October 14, 2005 at Smith Mortuary, Maryville

Sgt Fifer’s decorations include the Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Medal and the Purple Heart.

Burial:
Mattox Cemetery
Walden Creek
Sevier County
Tennessee, USA

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