SHAWNEE, Okla. -- An Oklahoma community gathered together Thursday to remember one of their own who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Hospitalman Eric Warren died in Afghanistan after suffering wounds in an improvised explosive device blast.
The 23-year-old U.S. Navy medical specialist was from Shawnee.
Nathan Hill, Warren's high school friend, said, "He brought joy to this world."
Jamelle Payne, another high school friend, said, "With Eric, no one was a stranger."
Dozens gathered at this memorial to watch as a wreath with his name was placed just below the navy flag.
A salute to the sacrifice he made for our country and this community.
House Speaker Kris Steele took a few minutes to address the crowd.
Steele said, "His job was to make sure others were at their best, that they were strong and healthy and that they could reach their potential serving our country. I think that epitomises who Eric was."
His parents, numerous relatives and several friends are still struggling to grasp the news he won't be coming home alive.
As tears flowed, memories remained with the crowd who will always be grateful to their hometown hero.
The Shawnee VFW post is donating a paver in Eric Warren's name to the local veteran's memorial.
Details of Warren's funeral have not been released.
His body is expected to return to Oklahoma sometime Friday.