Draped in an American flag, a fallen Marine from Waseca, Minnesota, has been returned to American soil.
Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson, 20, died Feb. 28 while working in combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Defense said.
Erickson's family says he was in the last truck in a convoy to leave the base when it was attacked by a suicide bomber. Three other Marines in the convoy were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
On Tuesday, a special Marine team carried a flag-draped transfer case containing Erickson's remains from a military plane when it arrived at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to the Associated Press.
Erickson graduated from Waseca High School in 2012, where he was a member of the wrestling and football teams. His football coach said Erickson was polite, smart and had a good sense of humor, according to Waseca County News.
"He was a tremendous teammate. He was as unselfish and driven as any player you’ll find," Bluejays football coach Brad Wendland wrote in a letter to the County News. "He was an easy kid to like and an easy kid to count on."
Erickson joined the Marine Corps shortly after graduation and was stationed in Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., the County News reports. Erickson's longtime friend, Brandon Hicks, said he was devoted to serving his country and did so in part as a tribute to his grandfather's military service, the newspaper says.
Hicks said Erickson was a good listener, could always make others smile and someone others would want as a friend.
"He will be greatly missed I know for sure by me, his friends, his family and his brothers in arms," Hicks told the newspaper.
Erickson's funeral arrangements are pending, according to Dennis Funeral & Cremation Services in Waseca.