Funeral set for Eatonton soldier killed in Afghanistan

Flags flew at half-staff Tuesday in Putnam County in honor of Army Spc. Erica Alecksen, of Eatonton, who died Sunday in a roadside blast in Afghanistan that killed six U.S. soldiers.

Alecksen, 21, joined the U.S. Army shortly after graduating from Putnam County High School in 2009.

“She loved being in the Army,” said Alecksen’s grandmother, Maurine Huggins, of Eatonton. “She was always praised for her ability to follow orders.”

But she didn’t take herself too seriously and had tremendous wit, her aunt said.

“I’m probably the coolest dork,” reads her Facebook cover photo she changed June 30. It was her last post.

She was selected for early release, her aunt said, and was set to come home later this year.

The young soldier’s body is expected to return Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base.

Her husband, Tim Bailey, of El Paso, Texas, will join members of her Eatonton family for the homecoming.

Her parents, Lars and Doria Alecksen, her brother, Charles Alecksen and her Aunt Lydia Ivanditti are flying to Delaware for the service, Huggins said.

“She had a moral compass that was great,” Ivanditti said Tuesday. “She was a straight arrow. She didn’t smoke or drink. She was just the most wholesome girl.”

German Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said in an Associated Press report that the six Americans were killed when their armored vehicle struck a bomb in the Wardak province of eastern Afghanistan.

Alecksen was a military police officer with the 978th Military Police Brigade since August 2010 and was assigned to Fort Bliss in El Paso.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills ordered flags lowered Tuesday at the courthouse and sheriff’s office in tribute to a colleague in uniform.

Alecksen was an expert hand grenade thrower who loved animals, her aunt said.

When her dog had puppies, she slept in the dog house with them, Ivanditti remembered.

In the hot summer months, Alecksen slept in her bathing suit so she could dive into the family pond as soon as she woke up.

“She just had a light that shone,” Ivanditti said. “She was just easy to love. It is sad beyond description.”

Mourners are encouraged to dress in red, white and blue, she said.

“We would really like to honor her service to the country, so we don’t want black,” Ivanditti said. “We are passionately proud of her.”

Her funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church at 103 W. Magnolia St. in Eatonton.

Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. Friday evening at Alecksen’s grandparents’ home at 303 N. Madison Ave., across from the church.

“She was a beautiful girl,” Huggins said.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.