Joining up wasn''t as simple as Eric A. Lill expected after Sept. 11, 2001. The Army initially rejected the former hockey player because he was overweight.
Rather than give up, Lill started working out on his own, and by February 2002 he had dropped from 245 pounds down to 198 on a 6-foot frame.
"He had a hard time making the weight limit," said his father, Anthony Lill. "He worked out so he could make the qualifications."
Lill, 28, of Chicago, was killed July 6 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Carson and was on his second tour.
"He''d always say, ''Don''t worry about me. I''m coming home," said his mother, Charmaine.
A police career had always been Lill''s goal. When he was younger, he talked about joining the FBI but dropped out of college to return home to marry his sweetheart. He took a job at the same food-packaging plant as his father and was planning to return there when he was discharged next year.
He is survived by his children Cody, 6, and Mikayla, 4, who live with his ex-wife. "He would call the kids once or twice every week," said Anthony Lill. "He was very close to them."