A few days ago, I found myself yet again with the honor of being with and photographing one of our Nation's most elite Navy SEALs (name is not necessary) for an ongoing project I am working on. Afterwards we sat around and chatted about various things veterans do, where we were stationed, places we have been, etc.
During this chat the subject of SERE school came up and I had mentioned that I had been partnered with a group of other SEALs from team one and my Nav partner was one of them. Over the years we lost touch and I had even forgotten his last name. I had always wanted to check in with him and see how he was doing but didn't have much to go on. After sharing a few details from the school, it just so happened that this SEAL I was with happened to know exactly who I was talking about. It seems apparently this fellow SEALs name was Eric Shellenberger and that they were best friends.
I immediately recognized the last name and was very excited to finally make the connection again after over 10 years. But unfortunately when I asked how he was doing, I was then informed that Eric had passed away over three years ago. It hit me hard and I couldn't help but break down. I had thought of Eric many times over the years. In the short time I knew him I enjoyed being around him. He had an amazing personality and was immediately someone I put trust in and would do whatever I could not to let him down.
During my time through SERE I was given the privilege of being the only one I know to be allowed to carry a camera through the survival phase of the school. During this time I took a number of photos of Eric and now have a place to send them, his family.
I want to thank this SEAL for everything he did and for giving me a memorial coin in honor of Eric. I will cherish this and remember him always.
I hope everyone enjoyed this Veteran's Day holiday, but most importantly they take a moment to remember those that have given their life in the service of this great country.
God bless you Eric. I will never forget.