Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and the Mercer County Veterans Center announce a solemn ceremony to honor the lives of three fallen soldiers who called Mercer County home.

Hughes will be joined by family members of the late Army Sgt. Eric L. Snell of Trenton, the late Army Pfc. Eric R. Wilkus of Hamilton, and the late Army Spc. Marc Scott Seiden of East Windsor as Mercer County dedicates a memorial bench and tree outside the Mercer County Veterans Center on Hamilton Avenue at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28. The ceremony is open to the public and area veterans' organizations.

In addition, the ceremony will include the presentation of medals by Hughes and Hamilton Township Mayor Glen D. Gilmore, an invocation by Mercer County Veterans Council Chaplain Col. Norman Matthews, U.S.A.F. (Ret), and remarks by Mercer County Chief of Veterans Services Ed Mazzeo.

The memorial bench is inscribed with a plaque honoring the bravery and heroism of Sgt. Snell and Pfc. Wilkus as well as all veterans in the County who served their country admirably. A white dogwood tree will also be planted at the site as a living reminder of purity and innocence, virtues shared by Sgt. Snell and Pfc. Wilkus.

Wilkus, 20, was assigned to the 57th Military Police Company, 8th Military Police Brigade and was serving in Baghdad, Iraq, when he sustained fatal injuries on Christmas Day 2006. Wilkus was certified as a rookie firefighter and emergency medical technician after completing a yearlong program for high school seniors run by the Mercer County Technical School and Mercer County Community College in cooperation with the fire academy, according to published reports.

Snell, 35, who had been assigned to a Brigade Combat Team based in Fort Carson, Colo., was the father of two sons and was a standout high school athlete in Hamilton. Snell was killed by small arms fire during a firefight with insurgents in Baghdad on June 18, 2007. Those who knew Sgt. Snell said he joined the Army to make a better life for his children.

Seiden, 26, a graduate of Hightstown High School, joined the Army several months after the Sept. 11 attacks on America and became an accomplished paratrooper while in the Army. He joined the military to serve his country, according to published reports. Seiden was killed Jan. 2, 2004 during an ambush of his convoy in Baghdad.