EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – Unlike many of WJBF’s Salute To Service honorees, Eric Baksin didn’t come from a military background. He grew up near Chicago dreaming of becoming a police officer. That was, until 9/11.

“9/11 happened and he just felt inclined to help others and help our country,” said Eric’s wife Sara, who nominated him for the award.

The day that changed America, forever changed Eric Baksin.

“You need to do your part, and I’ve always felt that way,” Baksin said. “I always felt like I needed to give back, and it’s something that I want to give back.”

After 9/11, he enlisted in the Army. He did two tours in Iraq and another in Afghanistan.

“You really learn to depend on your brothers and sisters in the military,” Baksin said. “The people that you work with, they become your family. You become attached to them and they provide that backbone also, so it’s like an extension of your family.”

His final assignment brought him to Fort Gordon, where he met his wife and decided to raise his family in the CSRA. That’s where his family surprised him with this month’s award during a night at Evans Towne Center Park.

“(The award) means the world to me,” Baksin said after being presented with the award by WJBF Director of Community Involvement Emily Pannocchia in front of his family. “It’s not something I would have ever imagined. It’s very selfless of them (to nominate me) and I appreciate everything that they, um, they’re my backbone.”

And his childhood dream has come true. He continues to serve our community as a deputy with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and recently re-enlisted in the Reserves.

“He is basically the exact person you would want as a police officer to show up and help you with something,” said fellow Richmond County Deputy and longtime friend Jeanal Cardoso. “He’s gonna do the right thing. He knows how to handle situations. He knows how to talk to people to handle difficult situations.”

“Eric will do whatever it takes to help somebody,’ Sara Baksin said. “He will take the shirt off of his back to help somebody. He likes to lead by example.”

If you know someone who deserves our Salute To Service, nominate them by clicking here.