Baltimore soldier among 3 killed in Afghanistan

Posted at 9:27 AM, Jun 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-12 18:15:55-04

The Department of Defense identified three soldiers killed in Afghanistan Saturday.

Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland; Sgt. William M. Bays, 29 of Barstow, California; and Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22 of Youngsville, North Carolina died in Peka Valley of gunshot wounds.

Over the weekend, the Pentagon said three U.S. soldiers were killed and another was wounded Saturday in eastern Afghanistan.

"I've been proud of my son since the day he was born. I can't describe how proud I am of him -- as a father, as a human being first and foremost," Eric Houck's father, Mike, said.

An Afghan official says the deaths and injury stem from an attack by an Afghan soldier, who also died.

In a statement from Washington, the Pentagon doesn't provide details about what led to the deaths of the U.S. soldiers. It says the incident is under investigation.

A spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar province, Attahullah Khogyani, says the attack took place in the Achin district.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says in a statement that a Taliban loyalist had infiltrated the Afghan army "just to attack foreign forces."

The three soldiers were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. They were stationed in Fort Campbell, KY.

"He was a loving son to Lisa and I. He was very compassionate, caring, and was concerned about people. He fought for the underdog," MIke said. 

But he perhaps fought hardest for his wife, Samantha, and their two young children EJ and Violet. 

Mike says Eric made them his top priority. 

Still he chatted as often as he could with the Perry Hall High School grad, he called his best friend. 

"He was my ESPN. Anytime the Eagles picked somebody up in the draft or if the draft came, I'd be sitting at my desk *ding* my phone goes off, 'hey the Eagles drafted this guy. Hey they got Alshon Jeffries.' He's telling me before I had a chance to see it on the news. Just a tremendous young man," Mike said, holding back tears. 

Tremendous both in impact and personality.'s what Mike says he'll miss the most. 

"Every second you realize that that person that you love and miss is never coming back into your life. He'll always be in my heart and he'll always be in my thoughts, but I'm just not going to see him again," Mike said. 

Eric's tour was almost over, he was supposed to come back home next month.