WASHINGTON – Friends of Army Pvt. Eric M. Kavanagh described him as a “blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked,” gentle, young man.
The 20-year-old from Glen Burnie died Sept. 20 of injuries suffered in Baghdad, Iraq, when a bomb detonated near his truck during combat, according to the Department of Defense.
Kavanagh served in the U.S. Army’s 26th, or “Blue Spaders” Infantry, 1st Division in Schweinfurt, Germany, and had recently been transferred to Iraq.
“He’d only been there a month,” said Linda Trzybinski, a close family friend.
Trzybinski, a receptionist at Maryland Pennysaver, where Kavanagh worked in the press department for several years, described Kavanagh as “a real sweetheart” who adored his younger brother and sister.
He had recently broken his ankle in Germany, she said, and was sent to Iraq Aug. 6, his grandmother’s birthday, just after it healed.
A little over a year ago, he moved in with his grandmother, Shirley Kerns of Glen Burnie. Trzybinski recalled him showing her the room that he had set up for himself in the basement.
Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Severna Park, Kavanagh attended Folger McKinsey Elementary School, Severna Park Middle School and Chesapeake High School in Pasadena.
He enjoyed playing the guitar and had a large group of friends, said his high school guidance counselor Kathy Richburg. Even as a high school freshman and sophomore his ambition was to go into the Army.
He joined the military to get a better career, his mother told Trzybinski. He knew there was a chance he might not return home, Trzybinski said. “It’s such a waste.”
Kavanagh was the fourth service member with ties to Maryland to be killed in Iraq in the past two weeks, the Associated Press reported.
As of Tuesday, 2,700 members of the U.S. military have been killed in Iraq, according to the Defense Department. A report updated Sept. 23 showed that 48 were from Maryland.
Kavanagh is survived by his father, Kevin Kavanagh; sister, Alanna Kavanagh; and brother, Patrick Kavanagh, all of Severna Park; his mother Rhonda Kavanagh of Glen Burnie; and his grandparents, Shirley Kerns of Glen Burnie and Keith Morris of Stockbridge, Ga.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd., Severna Park, according to information provided by Barranco & Sons Funeral Home.
The burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Friends may meet at the cemetery’s administration building Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
A celebration of Kavanagh’s life will be 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Knights of Columbus Columbian Center, 335 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.
Contributions may be made to Jacobs Light Foundation, an organization that sends comfort and supplies to soldiers overseas, at 116 Nadia Court, Port Jefferson, NY 11777.