[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory?[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms. -GEN MacArthur[/SIZE][/FONT] http://freedomremembered.com/index.php/chief-warrant-officer-niall-d-lyons/ One year ago today, 26 OCT 2009, I walked into the OPCEN in Tikrit to find an email from my buddy Mike waiting for me. The email informed me that the crash of a special operations aircraft the night prior had taken the life of my friend and former colleague, Niall (pronounced like Niel). CW3 Niall D. Lyons was the consummate professional. One of the craziest nights I can recall was spent in the inky black over a restive east Baghdad suburb known as Jisr Diyalah. It was supposed to be my annual readiness test, wherein Niall (an instructor pilot) would grill me on all manner of maneuvers in the aircraft, dig into my knowledge base, and generally find out if I was up to snuff. Instead, we ended up in a real fight, lost comms between us because of a broken helmet cable, and almost had a mid-air collision with two Apaches from the 227th who wandered out of Baghdad unannounced when the RPG flashes snagged their attention. When we landed, he gave me a go without a single question. My last flight in Iraq was with him, and I'll always remember how good it felt to hug my friend after 15 months and know that we were headed home. I last saw Niall at a bar, quite unexpectedly. He was off to Fort Rucker to pick up the CH-47 course enroute to the 160th, and I was off to other things too. We shared some good laughs and parted ways with no particular fanfare. Come to think of it, we probably said "see ya later." Had I known then that we never would see one another again--that he would perish in a flash on a hillside in Afghanistan--well, I would have said something better. Guys like Niall make you or break you when you're a young kid trying to figure out how to really lead and be effective in tough situations. I would have thanked him for having the patience to make me rather than break me. I posted this in here because I hope, in some way, that by sharing the story of men like Niall that he will be remembered. It is surely a small gesture to stop for a moment and reflect upon the anniversary of his death. That gesture is in some ways a selfish act of catharsis, yet in so doing I can also point to my friend's life and say to others that this man existed and his life mattered. That is worth doing. To the candidates and cadets who occasionally read this forum, I hope you might find the same inspiration in the selfless service and sacrifice of such men. You are endeavoring to entire into a dangerous and unpredictable way of life in a perilous time. Men like Niall, the men (and women) you are privileged to lead--with whose care you will be entrusted--will see you through the toughest of times. They are what makes our Army so great. Niall was a good man, with a good heart. He was a resolute friend and aloving father. He was a warrior and he died in the service of his country. He deserves to be remembered. Thank you.