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He survived combat, but not shoveling snow

Brief by Allen Best

Mountain Life – April 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

The supreme irony was immediately evident. Eric O’Hara had survived combat for 15 months in both Afghanistan and Iraq only to suffer a violent death a month later in what is an essentially bucolic setting near the Steamboat ski area. He fell to his death six floors from the roof of the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel while shoveling snow.

O’Hara had released a safety clip to more easily move along a rope to which he was attached for protection. A piece of ice then broke, and he slid down the sloped roof and fell over the edge.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that hundreds of mourners attended a memorial service for O’Hara, including soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the 82nd Airborne Division in which O’Hara had served.

He led more than 80 combat missions, and was a gunner as well as a paratrooper. “The gunner is personally responsible for the safety of everyone in the vehicle and sits exposed on the top,” said Maj. Charles Claffey. “He would be right beside me through hell or high water. I am without a doubt here only because of his actions in Iraq.”