On May 1, twenty-six year old Eric M. Finniginam, a U.S. Army specialist from Yap, Federated States of Micronesia became the latest war casualty from the region. Specialist Finniginam died of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, according to the Department of Defense.
He is the 42nd service member from the Micronesia region (Palau, Guam, CNMI, Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands) to die while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces since 2003. See complete list here.
Finniginam was in his base camp, Forward Operating Base Blessing, when it was attacked with mortar fire, said his father Robert Finniginam, citing Army officials who informed him of his son's death. Robert Finniginam said his son is survived by his wife, Annie Tilig and their 1-year-old girl. Eric Finniginam last visited his family in Yap in February, and he was scheduled to see them again next month, his father said. The family was getting ready for his welcome back party. Instead, they have begun preparing for funeral services.
Robert Finniginam, who spoke by phone from Yap, described his son as a friendly guy who was fun to be around. In the water, he was an excellent fisherman. On the field, he was an outstanding soccer player, his father said. "He made it to the national soccer team when he was 15," Robert Finniginam said. "He was one of the youngest players ever to make the Yap team."
Robert Finniginam said he and his wife were a bit hesitant when their son shared his plans to join the military. "Knowing that the death mortality rate for (Federated States of Micronesia) citizens is pretty high, we were very concerned about his safety," his father said. "We always worried about him. We were always praying for him."
Eric Finniginam was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colo. He joined the Army in 2008 and left for his first deployment last June, according to the Department of Defense (DOD). The DOD record also stated that he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for valor that he displayed while he and fellow soldiers were attacked with rounds of rocket-propelled grenades. After being thrown by the blast, Finniginam assisted his fellow soldier to safety and effectively suppressed enemy fighting positions to result in two enemy kills.
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Peter Praher at Memorial Service for Specialist Eric M. Finniginam – Monday, May 17, 2010 – Saint Mary’s Church, Yap State, FSM: http://kolonia.usembassy.gov/speech-2010-03.html