EATONTON, Ga. -- A family in Eatonton is mourning the loss of their daughter, a soldier, killed by a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.
"Everyone she ever touched in her life, was touched in a positive manner," said Lars Alecksen, a father grieving for his only daughter.
What's left are memories.
"They said she was the best driver other there, in her unit," Maurine Huggins, Alecksen's grandmother says.
The blast killed six U.S. troops.
Army Specialist, Erica Alecksen, of the 978th Military Police Brigade
"They informed me when we got to the house that my daughter had been killed in action," Alecksen said. "I can tell you my son and I, we literally started weeping...because I already knew why they were there."
Spc. Alecksen operated mine-resistant vehicles and worked in communication and security for the military, he said.
He said she called home nearly every day.
"It meant the world to me," her father said. "You can write letters, send e-mails, there's different forms of communication. But for me, that voice, and hearing her joy, it just gave me heart and it gave me hope."
He said they're asking mourners to wear red, white and blue at Saturday's funeral, not black, to honor her.
Huggins thumbed through photographs getting ready for Saturday.
She would not speak to us on camera, but she says her granddaughter was kind and didn't have an enemy in the world.
Huggin's phone kept ringing while she talked to 13WMAZ's Judy Le. During that time, many people also stopped by to bring flowers and offer their condolences. In a town like Eatonton where everybody kind of knows everyone, a death like this affects the entire communtiy.
"I watched her grow up. It was tragic and shocking and very sad," says On Cloud 9's boutique owner, Cindy Gregory, when she heard the news.
"It's devastating every time we lose someone in a war that's gone on a long time. But when you see someone so close to home, it's extremely devastating," says Shannon Minchey, who works at Pretty in Pink boutique in downtown Eatonton.
"When we lose a child from the community, everyone hurts," says James Nolan who knows the Huggins family.
Alecksen was 21 and a graduate of Putnam County High School.
"Even those who didn't know her talked like they knew her and it just made everyone closer," says Tara Edwards who works with Alecksen's mom at Old Mill Buffet.
"She lived life 110 percent, and she definitely went out with a smile," Alecksen said.
"It wasn't just a job for Erica, it was part of her life."
Visitation with her family will be Friday at 5 p.m. at her grandparents home on N. Madison Avenue in Eatonton.
A viewing will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Eatonton at 9 a.m. Services will begin at 11 a.m.
WXIA, Associated Press