Tyler and I met in high school. We became close friends during those years, and then lost each other after graduation for a short period. As fate would have it, we both moved back to our hometown within a month of each other, and reconnected. As they say, the rest is history. In the beginning of our relationship, we had a lot of ups and downs, and enjoyed our 20’s together. Towards the end of my radiologic technology training, Tyler decided to join the military. In February of 2009, Tyler was sworn in to the Army National Guard of South Dakota. Little did I know our lives would never be the same.
September 11, 2009 was the day that Tyler flew to Fort Knox, KY to begin his training as a soldier. At the time I thought this would be the hardest thing we would ever go through, to be away from each other for 3 months, boy was I wrong. During his training in Fort Knox, and then Fort Leonard wood, MO, Tyler grew to love the military and his purpose with it. There was even discussion of leaving the National Guard, and transferring to active duty.
After returning home from his training’s, life returned to normal. He spoke of his “battle buddies” often, keeping in touch with several of them as they all went separate ways after AIT. One of the most frequent names that I heard him speak of, was Dawson. You see, Dawson was his bunk mate at Fort Leonard wood. They grew to be as close as brothers.
Shortly after leaving AIT, Dawson was activated and deployed to Afghanistan. He was only 20 years old. I could tell that this affected Tyler, he had a desire to be there with his buddy, but knew that it wasn’t his time yet.
Then the news came. Dawson gave the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. I watched as this rocked my hero to his core.