A car decorated with messages in memory of Eric O'Hara sits in Ski Time Square near the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel on Wednesday. Services for O'Hara were held at the nearby Sheraton Steamboat Resort. O'Hara, 24, a U.S. Army veteran, died in a Feb. 28 snow removal accident at the Grand.

Photo by Brian Ray

A car decorated with messages in memory of Eric O'Hara sits in Ski Time Square near the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel on Wednesday. Services for O'Hara were held at the nearby Sheraton Steamboat Resort. O'Hara, 24, a U.S. Army veteran, died in a Feb. 28 snow removal accident at the Grand.

Steamboat Springs says goodbye to Eric O'Hara

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— Wesley Adams remembers meeting Eric O'Hara a decade ago while lifting weights in preparation for freshman football at Steamboat Springs High School.

After eyeing him for a few minutes, O'Hara flexed his muscles in the mirror, came over with his unmistakable swagger and introduced himself, Adams said. Although football wouldn't be the then-scrawny 115-pound O'Hara's calling, the two remained close even as oceans would separate them in the coming years, he said.

"Just two weeks ago, I saw our buddy 'Irish' for the last time," Adams said. "Eric fittingly left my life the same way he met me - with a firm handshake and a smile."

O'Hara, 24, died Feb. 28 in Steamboat Springs after falling six stories off the roof at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel in a snow removal accident. Hundreds of mourners packed his memorial service Wednesday at the Steamboat Sheraton Resort Hotel to say their last goodbyes.

O'Hara's coffin was flanked by an honor guard from the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based Third Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division - soldiers who served alongside O'Hara in his tours of duty overseas.

O'Hara had been discharged from the U.S. Army only a month before his death. During his service, he fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he led more than 80 combat missions.

"Although he went on missions very frequently, it was never enough for him," Maj. Charles Claffey said. "Eric loved being a paratrooper, and he loved serving his country.

"The gunner is personally responsible for the safety of everyone in the vehicle and sits exposed on the top," Claffey said. "He would be right beside me through hell or high water. I am without a doubt here only because of his actions in Iraq."

Family members and close friends took turns sharing their memories of O'Hara, often choking back tears.

"I can't believe that I will never be able to call you, or hug you or hear your amazing laugh ever again," sister Caitlin O'Hara said.

Eric touched everyone he met with his love for life, from his fellow soldiers to the high school guidance counselors for whom he made life so difficult, Adams said.

"Eric was the best brother that you could imagine," stepsister Heidi Montag said. "I wish I would've known that our time was limited, but you can't."

Interment is at 1 p.m. today at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.

Donations can be made to the Eric O'Hara Memorial Fund at any branch of Mountain Valley Bank.

Comments

justice4all 6 years, 9 months ago

This is not a good-bye, it is just a see you later Eric. We will meet again on the other side. A word of comfort for those of us still here and missing Eric so much:

"WE NEVER KNOW WHEN OR EVEN SOMETIMES WHY GOD TAKES THE PERSON FROM US, BUT HE WILL NEVER TAKE AWAY THE PRECIOUS MEMORIES".

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Steamboatsense 6 years, 9 months ago

Eric that you for everything you have done for this country and this community.

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nibbler 6 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Eric,

for serving our country in war for losing sleep in battle while we slept soundly at home for risking it all while we risked little for sacrificing family while we enjoyed ours for testifying of Jesus even in death

Psalm 116 "Praise for deliverance from death"

I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple:I was brought low and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

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