One Year Ago - A good man remembered

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by scoutpilot, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot 5-Year Member

    Apr 29, 2010
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    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.

    Niall was a good man, with a good heart. He was a resolute friend and loving father. He was a warrior and he died in the service of his country. He deserves to be remembered.

    Thanks for reading.

    (x-posted to the USMA forum)
  2. Lee2015

    Lee2015 USMA & USNA Mom 5-Year Member

    Jan 10, 2010
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    Thank you for sharing and remembering Niall.

    I think "see ya later" was perfect.
  3. Spanky58ggpt

    Spanky58ggpt 5-Year Member

    Jun 16, 2010
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    Absolutely Perfect

    See ya later - absolutely perfect.

    Remember them all. Something we should all do, and not just on Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. Guys like Niall and those who came before and will come afterwards are why we are so very proud that our sons and daughters have chosen the path of service to country. I am proud to say that you are a lucky man, as was I, to have served with leaders who we could also count as friends. This a bond that few who have not served have the privilege to cherish as a memory. My hope is that my son will someday have such a leader that he can also call friend and that he can look back on his time in service with the fondness of memory that the passage of time provides. Whether enlisted, warrant, or commisioned, they are part of something bigger than themselves and their service often makes them better in life even when that life is shorter than we would hope for. Those like Niall become bigger than life in the eyes of those who have had the honor of serving by their side.

    God Bless all who serve!

    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
    John 15:13

  4. AF6872

    AF6872 10-Year Member

    Mar 4, 2007
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    RIP and God bless him. I hope his son got the Stetson.

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