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Christopher W. Eckard

Note: GYSgt Eckard is a distant cousin, through Adam Echert's son, George Echert and his wife, Elizabeth Rowe.)

HUBERT (NC) - Gunnery Sgt. Christopher (Chris) William Eckard, 30, of Hubert, formerly of Hickory, died while supporting combat operations in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 20, 2010. Gunnery Sgt. Eckard was born Nov. 13, 1979, to Eunice C. Eckard and the late Steven Eckard of Hickory. Chris was an explosive ordnance disposal technician in the United States Marine Corps. He joined the Marine Corps on May 7, 2001. He was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune. In addition to his father, Gunnery Sgt. Eckard was preceded in death by his paternal grandmother, Ruth Eckard, and his maternal grandparents, Woodrow and Lucy Carico. Gunnery Sgt. Eckard is survived by his wife of eight years, Ashley, and their two sons, Steven William and Avery Cole, all of Hubert; his mother, Eunice Eckard of Hickory; brother, Chad Eckard and wife, Chastity, of Hickory; grandfather, Bernard Eckard of Hickory; and nieces, Kaila and Meghan Eckard of Hickory. A service of remembrance will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, March 5, 2010, at Highland Baptist Church, 828 Ninth Ave., NE, Hickory, with the Revs. Jesse Lott and Homer Greene officiating. Burial will follow in Woodlawn Memorial Gardens, 3120 Falling Creek Road, Hickory. The family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 4, 2010, at Drum Funeral Home in Hickory. Pallbearers will be explosive ordnance disposal technicians from Gunnery Sgt. Eckard's unit. Full military honors are provided by U.S. Marine Corps I&I Staff of Charlotte. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the EOD Memorial Foundation, 7040CR 772, Webster, Fla. 33597, http://www, Condolences may be sent to the Eckard family at The Eckard family has entrusted funeral arrangements to Drum Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 940 29th Ave., NE, Hickory (828) 267-5740.

[Postion 1 Keyword: Church],

Published in Hickory Daily Record on March 3, 2010

Flight diverted

Plane carrying Marine's body forced to land in Charlotte

(published 3/3/2010)

By Larry Clark | Hickory Daily Record


The flight bringing Gunnery Sgt. Chris Eckard home Tuesday was forced to divert to Charlotte.

Poor visibility and icy runways from the winter storm sent the airplane to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Eckard, 30, was killed last month in Afghanistan. He was on his first mission there after serving four tours of duty in Iraq.

At Hickory Municipal Airport, a Marine Corps honor guard formed on the tarmac in the blowing snow to receive the body of their comrade.

Nearby, 30 members of the Patriot Guard Riders waited with U.S. flags waving. They were there to escort Eckard's body to Drum Funeral Home.

The Patriot Guard is a national organization that honors the sacrifices of military personnel with a motorcade salute.

David Cantara drove all the way from High Point. Because of the snow, he brought his truck. Most Patriots ride motorcycles.

"I joined the Patriots last year," Cantara said, "and I've done 50 missions so far. We had two last week and three this week.

"We do this out of respect and honor. Our soldiers deserve it."

Cantara said many Patriots are veterans.

"It's always hard," he said of escorting a soldier killed in action, "but it's the right thing to do."

The Patriots also honor deceased law officers and any Armed Forces member â?? active or veteran.

They formed a cordon at Hickory Airport in silence.

The plane was scheduled to land at 4:30 p.m. Hickory police officers and Catawba County deputies were to manage traffic and accompany the motorcade to the funeral home.

However, when the flight was about 15 minutes out of Charlotte, deteriorating weather conditions dictated an early landing.

Eckard's body will be driven from Charlotte to Hickory.

The Patriot Guard stood down. The Marines got ready to go Charlotte.

The Patriots left as they arrived, in a line of cars and trucks, flags flying. Two members rode motorcycles.

A man and woman, bundled against the cold and snow, stood at the edge of Franz Stadium, displaying Old Glory and waving as the procession moved down the hill from the airport.

The Patriots were headed to the funeral home where they left unneeded vehicles.

Bill Cook of Sherrills Ford, the ride captain, was disappointed the group couldn't meet Eckard's flight.

"There's no way we can make it to Charlotte," he said.

"But we're not done. We'll be here Friday."

A service of remembrance for Eckard is Friday.

The Patriot Guard will be in the procession to Woodlawn Memorial Gardens where Eckard will be buried with full military honors.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders await the flight bringing Marine Gunnery Sgt. Chris Eckard's body home

Photo Credits: Robert C. Reed | Hickory Daily Record

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