Eric Daniel Soufrine
Battery B 4-42 Artillery
4th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
A soldier from Woodbridge has
been killed in Afghanistan, according to the Department of
Word of the death of Pvt. Eric D. Soufrine, 20, spread quickly through his hometown Wednesday night,
according to First Selectman Edward Maum Sheehy. He said Soufrine was a 2009 graduate of Amity High School
and enlisted in the Army after graduation.
"We are very saddened by his death," Sheehy said. "Something like this points out that freedom isn't free."
The Defense Department said Soufrine joined the Army on May 11, 2010, and was deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 10.
Soufrine, who was stationed in Farah province in Afghanistan, was killed while on mounted patrol.
His vehicle hit a roadside bomb at a river crossing in the Shewan Garrison Village. Sheehy said that Soufrine, while overseas,
was recently honored in the town's Memorial Day ceremony.
He was a member of Battery B, 4th Battalion, 42d Field Artillery, out of Fort Carson, Colo.
Eric Soufrine with his sister Rebecca
Soufrine. Pfc. Eric Soufrine from Woodbridge, Conn was killed in
the line of duty
in Afghanistan on Tuesday June, 14, 2011.
Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed
A native of Woodbridge, CT, Eric
Soufrine has died in Afghanistan. According to First Electman
he said Soufrine was a 2009 graduate of Amity High School and enrolled in the Army after graduation. His date of enrollment
in the United States Army was on May 11th, 2010, following he was deployed to Afghanistan on December 10th, 2010.
While stationed in the Farah province in Afghanistan, Eric was killed while on mounted patrol. His vehicle hit an improvised explosive device
at a river crossing in the Shewan Garrison Village. He was a member of Battery B, 4th Battalion, 42d Field Artillery,
out of Fort Carson, Colorado. He also was a recipient of the National Defense service Medal and the NATO Service Medal.
CTs Governor Dannel Malloy issued a statement Wednesday night, June 15th
"The loss of Private First
Class Soufrine is a tragedy and my thoughts are with his family
and friends at this time.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exacted a terrible toll on our military, our families and our communities.
Our prayers are with our men and women serving overseas and their families who are making an extraordinary sacrifice
in service to the country."
Continue reading on Examiner.com
by Maggie DellaRocco - Griffin
PFC Eric Soufrine's decorations
Eric is also eligible to receive
the Connecticut Veterans Wartime Service Medal
from the State of Connecticut
PFC Eric Soufrine's coffin is brought from the funeral home by the Honor Guard.
Photo by Mara Lavitt/newhavenregister.com
The Honor Guard fires a salute for PFC Eric Soufrine
Photo by Mara Lavitt/newhavenregister.com
Specialist Rebecca Soufrine leaves
Mishkan Israel Cemetery in New Haven after the burial of her
PFC Eric Soufrine, on Sunday, June 19, 2011.
PFC Soufrine died in action in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post
Soldier's death rocks Woodbridge
at graduation time
Tim Loh and Monica Szakacs, Staff Writers
WOODBRIDGE -- After Sept. 11, 2001, when Amity Regional High School students began enlisting in the military more than ever before,
Associate Principal Marietta Mattei set up a glass display on the wall outside the main office.
In went photographs of as many graduates who were serving active duty as she could find out about.
After students emptied the building Friday for one of the final times of the school year, she stood before the display window,
which she has managed for nearly a decade. Twenty-five uniformed graduates stared back from pictures.
"We had never had a casualty," she said.
Then came Tuesday.
This week, finals started.
On Tuesday, the seniors, just eight days from graduating, were predictably rowdy, staff in the front office said.
Then, about 11 a.m., Paige Woodward, a 17-year-old senior who was sitting in her digital video class, was called into the hallway.
"They called me out and told me," she said.
Her boyfriend, Army Pfc. Eric Soufrine, 20, had been killed by an improvised explosive device.
Her mother picked her up from school and brought her home.
At her graduation next week, they'll hold a moment of silence for her boyfriend.
Soufrine graduated from Amity in 2009. In the yearbook, beside his senior year picture, he left a quote from the Led Zeppelin song
"Stairway to Heaven."
"There are two paths you can go by," it said, "but in the long run there's still time to change the road you're on."
That summer, Mike Vernik, one of his best friends since middle school, first learned that Soufrine intended to join the military.
It came as no surprise, he says.
Soufrine was an outdoors guy. He loved hunting. He loved guns. He loved fishing, boating, water-skiing, rope swings.
He went hunting with his father and together they traveled to compete in skeet-shooting contests.
Vernik and Soufrine spent their high school summers working at the Woodbridge Country Club. They maintained the greens
and the lawns of the golf course. When work ended in the afternoon, they would head to Vernik's home or Soufrine's home --
a large property, with ample woods and open space -- or to that of another friend. They hunted or hiked or went fishing or boating.
Soufrine's older cousin was in the military.
"That may have played a factor in it," Vernik says of Soufrine's decision. "He was really set on protecting his country."
He was also set on protecting his friends and family, Vernik says.
"He knew of the dangers," Vernik says. "It was, `This is what I want to do. But I don't want you guys to do it.'"
Even so, Rebecca, Soufrine's 25-year-old sister, followed his steps into the Army.
Before he left for Afghanistan, she recalls, he gave her a package of letters and Post-it notes and said not to open it
until she got to basic training.
When she got there, she found notes inside that said, "You're the best sister ever," she recalled on Friday, and also,
"I love you so much."
Rebecca, who's done with basic training now, was at home in Woodbridge on Friday. The family, she said, had been planning
a big party for her brother's return. He had wanted to go to college at some point.
Her greatest memories involve the times they'd spent together on their motor boat -- waterskiing, tubing, fishing.
He loved to drive the boat, she said. He loved the summer.
Soufrine's parents did not wish to speak for this report.
Woodward counts one night last August at a hibachi restaurant as the start of their relationship.
Soufrine couldn't figure out how to use the chopsticks, she says, so she tried to show him.
That didn't work and she recalls him getting mad.
At the time, Woodward had an injured knee. She recalls him picking her up and carrying her around on piggyback.
He tried to teach her how to drive, and that didn't work either. "It was a disaster," she recalls
She last saw him in November. On the final night, he came over to her house and they spoke in her driveway and he cried, she says.
He said he'd never cried in front of anyone before. He'd told his friends that he loved her and that he was going to marry her, she says.
"I think I was the only person that saw his sensitive side," she says.
She gave him a letter and a picture of herself, which she says he kept with him in Afghanistan. In return,
she would wear his sweatshirts -- his Yankees sweatshirt and his Amity lacrosse one -- to bed.
He offered her some parting words.
"Enjoy your senior year," she recalls him saying. "I'll be back before you know it."
His deployment was to end in two weeks, Vernik said. After time on base at Fort Carson, Colo.,
he would have returned to Connecticut in early August.
On Friday morning at Amity, Mattei, the associate vice principal, stepped into the hallway, slid open the glass display case,
and took down the 5-by-7 inch photograph of Soufrine.
She went to her computer, blew up the picture and brought it back to the display case. She placed it on top of black paper
Then she bordered the picture with American flag ribbons.
Then she pasted on top: "Killed in Action. Afghanistan, June 2011."
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Plaque dedicated to PFC Eric Soufrine in Woodbridge, Connecticut
Photo from Connecticut Post
The Woodbridge Memorial Day
ceremony is set to start in 20 minutes. Donna Johnson Soufrine
walks over to a plaque
on the ground that sits in front of the flagpole on the town green.
She's going to put up the
picture of her buddy, she says, smiling. She leans over and
places a framed photograph of her son,
Army Pfc. Eric Daniel Soufrine, on top of the plaque.
The plaque has been there since Veteran's Day. That's when the town held a dedication in honor of Eric, the
youngest of Donna and Michael Soufrine's three kids.
The Soufrines rarely miss a
Veteran's Day or Memorial Day ceremony. Patriotism is a trait
passed down in their families.
Both Donna's and Michael's fathers were U.S. Marines. Between the two families there are more than a dozen veterans and
active service members, including Eric and his older sister, Rebecca. She is stationed in Korea and won't be back until August.
Their oldest child, Joshua,
lives in Georgia. He couldn't make it to the ceremony to be with
his parents. It's just the two of them
this Memorial Day. Frank Calistro, an Army veteran, plays the bugle call to assembly. He plays the national anthem and
"God Bless America." It's only been a few minutes, but the humidity and blazing sun are already causing beads of sweat
to form on the foreheads of the 60 or so people at the ceremony.
Paige Woodward, Eric's girlfriend, is there. It's her first time at the town's Memorial Day ceremony.
The names of the comrades departed since last Memorial Day are read:
"Army Pfc. Eric Soufrine, died June 14, 2011."
Donna's body shakes. She dabs at the tears in her eyes.
Less than two miles away are the
fields around the Soufrine home where Eric and a never-ending
stream of friends built bonfires
and rode dirt bikes. The Soufrines' youngest, who at 6-foot-5 was also the tallest, was sensitive and compassionate like Donna.
He volunteered in a Shelton nursing home and spent many nights as a teenager playing bingo with the residents.
He loved his siblings. Before
Rebecca went off to basic training, Eric gave her a package of
letters and Post-it notes.
Inside were notes that said, "You're the best sister ever," and, "I love you so much."
Eric was also confident,
athletic and in love with nature like his father. He played
lacrosse, football and baseball.
His favorite team was the New York Yankees.
He was often at the helm of the family's 19-foot ski boat. He was often behind the boat, too, water tubing or water-skiing.
Eric loved hunting and won
several father-son skeet shooting contests with his dad. He was a
master at maneuvering
the family's professional grade mower and dump truck.
His plan had been to attend college and major in forestry.
After he had served his country.
Eric loved his country. So it
came as no surprise to Donna when he announced, at just 7 or 8
that he would someday be a serviceman.
And in July 2010, Eric arrived at boot camp, just a year after graduating from Amity Regional High School.
That September he completed his
Advanced Individual Training. By December he had convinced Army
that he would do well in Afghanistan. And he did do well. He knew what to do, didn't even need to be asked and he never complained.
He was nicknamed "Surefire," and given the position of gunner.
Less than six months into his deployment, he won the Army Achievement Award. In May 2011, he was named soldier of the month.
Then, on June 14, in
Afghanistan's Farah province the Humvee Eric was riding in
traveled over an improvised explosive device.
A soldier riding with him was thrown out of the vehicle but survived and had to wear a full body cast. Eric died.
In 16 days, he was supposed to
have come home. Donna had already started preparing and hanging
decorations for his
"Welcome Home" party. Instead, she planned a funeral.
The thing she misses most about
her son is not his sense of humor or his way of helping out
around the house without complaining.
It's his presence. Without him, the house is too silent.
She fills the time planning Rebecca's homecoming and pushing aside fears of the dangers her daughter will be in until then.
When Monday's ceremony is over,
Donna sits at her kitchen table. She stares at the place mat
before her, which has
an American flag design. Michael sits a few feet away, leaning back in a brown leather recliner, his arms clenched above his head.
He was silent through the entire
ceremony on the green. He is mostly silent now. Soon the couple
will make their way
to the cemetery to visit Eric's grave.
Michael stares straight ahead at
the living room wall. Before him, on the mantel, underneath
framed photographs of a smiling
Eric Daniel Soufrine and next to medals and plaques is a frame with a quote on it from Abraham Lincoln.
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."
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Sanford Soufrine, left, and Michael
Soufrine, grandfather and father of Eric Soufrine, place a wreath
in Eric's honor during the Memorial Day ceremony
in Woodbridge on Monday, May 28, 2012. Eric Soufrine of Woodbridge was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.
Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post
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From The Connecticut Post website ctpost.com
Eric in Afghanistan
Photo by Z46561848 from the Find A Grave website
Eric and his girlfriend Paige
Photo by Z46561848 from the Find A Grave website
Birth: Oct. 16, 1990
Death: Jun. 14, 2011
Pfc. Eric D. Soufrine, 20, of Woodbridge, Conn., died June 14 in Farah province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered
when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion,
42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.
Beloved son of Michael J.
Soufrine and Donna Johnson Soufrine of Woodbridge. Brother of
Joshua (Jessica) Soufrine
of Johns Creek, GA, and Army (SPC) Rebecca Soufrine of Woodbridge, currently stationed at Fort Huachuca, AZ.
Beloved grandson of Bettyanne and Sanford Soufrine of Woodbridge, and the late Edward and Nan Johnson of Hamden.
Eric will be deeply missed by many aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, "army brothers", girlfriend Paige Woodward
and his faithful and loving dog, Emma.
Mishkan Israel Cemetery
New Haven County
From the Find A Grave website
Ceremony on Thursday will honor seven killed in Afghanistan, including Woodbridge's Eric Soufrine. He graduated from Amity High in 2009.
May 24, 2012
A press release from the office of Lt. Gov, Nancy Wyman:
The portraits of seven
Connecticut soldiers killed in the conflict in Afghanistan will
be added to the Wall of Honor tribute
in the State Capitol complex at the 5th annual addendum ceremony on Thursday, May 24.
The public is invited to attend
the ceremony, scheduled for 4 p.m. in the Atrium of the
Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave.,
Hartford. Families of many of the new honorees and of the 56 Connecticut military men and women previously lost in the conflicts
in Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to attend.
In addition to the hanging of
photographic portraits of the seven new honorees, the names of
all troops on the Wall will be read
and family members will have the opportunity to give remarks.
The ceremony will be co-hosted
by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Hartford radio broadcaster Brad
who together created the Wall of Honor in 2007.
The seven new honorees are:
Army Spec. Philip C.S. Schiller, 21, of Winsted (2012)
Army Spec. Richard C. Emmons, 22, of North Granby. (2011)
Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford. (2011)
Army Sgt. Edward J. Frank II, 26, of Hartford. (2011)
Army Staff Sgt. Ari R. Cullers, 28, of Waterford. (2011)
Army Spec. Dennis Pratt, 34, of Southington. (2009)
From the Bethwood Patch website
During a Wall of Honor ceremony in Hartford, family members spoke about loved ones who gave their lives for their country.
One of the fallen was Woodbridge's Eric Soufrine.
Retired Marine Sgt. Don Hauser placed the portraits on the Wall of Honor.
Credit: Timothy Becker
An emotional ceremony Thursday
afternoon in the atrium of the Legislative Office Building in
Hartford left several families
with both tears and smiles as seven new portraits were added to the 56 already part of the Connecticut Wall of Honor.
Annually since 2007, the state
has honored Connecticut residents who served in the military and
who lost their lives in either Iraq
or Afghanistan. On Thursday, local radio personality Brad Davis and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, who worked together
to create the wall, remembered the men and women whose portraits are part of the wall for their bravery and service to the country,
while family members remembered their loved ones as dedicated and happy to serve.
In recognition of their service,
each name was read, a benediction was offered and taps was played
before the service ended
with those in attendance singing God Bless America.
Office of the Lt. Governor, Director of Communication Steve Jensen made final adjustment to the Wall of Honor prior to the ceremony.
Credit: Timothy Becker
From the Bethwood Patch website
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