Foundation pays tribute to son who died for his country

Sgt. Eric Morgen Holke died in a combat mission in Iraq. (Courtesy of Jack Holke)

Claire Cote

On the first day of voice acting class, Saddleback instructor Patrick Helmstetter asked each student to share a little about what had brought them there. The students slowly went around the room, each standing up in turn, giving their explanation.

But no one expected Jack Holke’s response. He told the class that his son died in Iraq, and that he is taking the class in his honor.

Sergeant Eric Morgen Holke, who worked for both National Public Radio and PBS through the Radio and Television Broadcasting program at Valley College in San Bernardino, was a great advocate of the broadcast arts. His death while on a combat mission in 2007 brought his father Jack to Saddleback College with a mission of his own.

Soon after that first day in Helmstetter’s class, Jack Holke started the E. Holke Foundation, which aims to provide scholarships for community college students pursuing a career in radio or TV broadcasting.

“This is a great thing Jack is doing,” said Knych Keller, a fellow student. “I immediately told him I’d help out in any way I could.”

The class decided to create a Public Service Announcement, which now airs on KSBR as well as, in order to get the word out about this budding foundation.

“There are so many ways to use the broadcast arts that students don’t know about,” Keller said. “We need to let them know.”

Jack Holke is pleased to be doing something so meaningful for his son, whom he remembers as fun-loving and unfailingly kind.

“My son was a man who could bring a smile to anyone’s face, no matter how angry or sad they were,” Holke said. “And after lots of thought about things I could do to create a legacy for him, nothing seemed to fill the bill. Then my grief counselor brought up the idea [of creating a foundation].”

To date, Holke has not seen a great deal of monetary support, which he blames mainly on the instability of our economy.

“Charitable giving is a little on the slow side right now,” he said. “Plus, the word has not gotten out as much as I would like.”

For information about donations, contact Michelle Anstadt at Saddleback College, (949) 582-4479, or visit the Eric Holke Foundation website at

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