Crane building honors fallen Marine

Photos by Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Army veteran Louie Lueken, bottom left, posed with fellow World War II veterans from St. Charles Health Campus in Jasper and commanders of Crane Division, Naval Support Activity in front of the natural resources building at Crane on Monday. The building was renamed the Corporal Eric Lueken, USMC Memorial Facility in honor of Louie’s grandson on the seventh anniversary of the Marine’s death. Eric was a 2001 Northeast Dubois High School graduate and died in action April 22, 2006, in Iraq. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By CANDY NEAL
Herald Staff Writer

CRANE — The natural resources building at Crane Division, Naval Support Activity now bears the name of Marine Cpl. Eric Lueken.

The Corporal Eric Lueken, USMC Memorial Facility was dedicated during a ceremony Monday morning, the seventh anniversary of the Marine’s death.

“We pause today to recognize the passing of a fallen Hoosier, a U.S. Marine who died in service to his country,” Cmdr. James Stewart, commanding officer of NSA Crane, told the more than 150 people in attendance, “and to honor his memory by the rededication of this humble building.”

Eric, a 2001 Northeast Dubois High School graduate, joined the Marines on Oct. 12, 2003, and served his first tour of duty in Afghanistan from November 2004 to June 2005.

The 23-year-old Marine was on his second tour of duty when he was killed on April 22, 2006, in the vicinity of Al Asad, Iraq.

Eric’s parents, Jake and Melinda Lueken, and brother Brent were at Monday’s ceremony, surrounded by family members and friends. Supporters from Eric’s hometown also were in the crowd, including 54 eighth-graders from Dubois Middle School, his alma mater, and their principal, Ryan Case.

Officials from the county and state attended as well, including Dubois County Councilmen Greg Kendall and Shane Lindauer, Commissioners Randy Fleck and Larry Vollmer, Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz and Councilmen Tom Schmidt and Earl Schmitt, Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner and U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-8th. Representatives for U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, and U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats also were there to show their support and respect.

Jake Lueken of Dubois, right, and his wife, Melinda, were among the family and friends on hand for a ceremony Monday morning in which the natural resources building at Crane Division, Naval Support Activity was dedicated in honor of the Luekens’ oldest son, fallen Marine Cpl. Eric Lueken. A plaque that will be placed on the building was unveiled during the ceremony. State Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, left, also attended the ceremony. For a gallery of photos, click here.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and State Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, spoke about Eric and his dedication to his country. Steve Lindauer, public relations officer for the Southern Indiana Leatherneck Detachment of the Marine Corps League, spoke on behalf of the family, thanking officials for honoring their son and thanking the community for its continued support.

At the end of the ceremony, a plaque with Eric’s image and information about him was unveiled. The building already bears its new name, and the plaque will be installed in the building soon, Stewart said.

NSA has more than 3,000 buildings on 63,000 acres of land. Only one other building is named after a person, retired technical director David Reece. All the rest of the buildings are numbered. One other location bears a person’s name — an antenna test range named after Lance Cpl. Scott Zubowski, the first Marine from Indiana who was killed in the Iraq War by an improvised explosive device.

The idea to request that a building be named after Eric surfaced four years ago with NCA criminal investigator Terry Carie, the Luekens’ neighbor.

“It was on my list of things to do, kind of like a bucket list,” he said. “I was not going to let this go.”

Carie started collecting information on Eric’s service and letters from local politicians to support the request.

Crane officials started reviewing the request last July. They interviewed several of Eric’s comrades and commanders.

“It soon became a flood of glowing testimonials about Eric. I received emails and phone calls from current and ex-Marines,” Stewart said. “His comrades’ testimonials were instrumental in humanizing the request, because they spoke of Eric’s honor, his superb performance and his professionalism by which Eric exemplified the role of noncommissioned officer.”

After agreeing that Eric should be honored in this manner, Crane officials sent the request and supporting documentation on to Navy and Marine Corps officials, who also approved the proposal.

Renaming the natural resources building was the most obvious choice, as everyone who knew Eric knew he loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter, Jake Lueken said. In light of that, officials thought that Earth Day would be an appropriate day for the dedication.

“This is really something,” Jake said later as he walked around inside the facility. “They done this right.”

Outside, Army veteran Louie Lueken, Eric’s paternal grandfather, posed for pictures in front of the building with fellow World War II veterans who live with him at St. Charles Health Campus in Jasper. Staff from the nursing home brought the six veterans to the ceremony.

“I think this is real nice,” Louie said about the honor bestowed on his grandson. “It’s an honor for Eric, for me and for other veterans. This makes me mighty proud.”

Contact Candy Neal at cneal@dcherald.com.




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