In August 2006 I did a tour of duty in Iraq. I was the NCOIC of a combat weather team. We support the Army with weather information. During that tour I had the opportunity to work with an Army Captain by the name of Sean Lyerly. Over 10 years younger than I he always had a smile on his face and always had a genuine concern for the welfare of those around him, including the enlisted. When we traveled to the other side of the base to check out the Bazaar, he got a Hum-Vee and drove us over. The Captain drove the two NCOs.
He loved spicy foods, from the wasabi trail mix that someone sent around Christmas to the Jalapeno/cheese poppers he asked me to bring him back from the chow hall.
We had many talks about wasabi. Upon finding out that most "wasabi" in the states was really horseradish, and that actual wasabi was very expensive, we decided to explore the possibility of starting a business growing wasabi when we returned. He had an interest in plants and actually received a degree in horticulture from Texas A&M and had experience caring for aquatic plants when he worked at Disneyland (or Disney world I can't remember). Naturally, we felt the answer would be to grow the wasabi hydroponically.
He loved his wife and 3 year old son and he loved to fly. He was one of the battle captains in the the tactical operations center (TOC) and consequently did not get to fly as often as he would have preferred. One of the last things I heard the Colonel tell him before I left was, "Don't worry, you'll get more flight time, I promise."
Our unit supported the Army's year long deployment with three 4 month rotations. Mine was the first. I left on December 31, 2006.
On January 20th he was shot down and killed along with 11 others who were passengers in the Blackhawk he was flying.
This Memorial Day, take a moment from the sales and the BBQs, and remember these and the many others who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and it's citizens.
They stood around the graves
And told their stories,
The very young and very old
And for every story learned,
For every one taught
A monument danced and a memory walked,
A grave remained unfinished and unfilled.
They sat upon the headstones
And sang their songs,
The living and the dead
And for every song left unheard
For every one forgot
A memory wept and a history slept,
A grave was sealed and a spirit stilled.