Life elsewhere

This post has nothing to do with Thailand. If you read my blog mostly for interest in living abroad, or Thailand, or culture, I’m sorry – but this post diverts from the usual chatter. Please come back later, I’ll keep writing.

A few days ago, I learned that my brother-in-law lost a friend. In honor of my brother-in-law, former Sgt. Pete Carey with the United States Marine Corps, the United States Marine Corps, and my grandfather, deceased  Sgt. Frank C. Skiles with the United States Navy, I’d like to share an article written about Tyler Ziegel and the sacrifices he made for the United States.

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METAMORA —

The crowd stretched to the sidewalk at Mason Funeral Home by the time Tyler Ziegel’s visitation began at noon Sunday, and guests continued to arrive.

Within the hour, hundreds stood in the slow-moving line as visitors took their time to pay respects to the former Marine’s family and say farewell to the hometown hero.

Some had known Ziegel his whole life. Others might have met him only a few times but knew his family, his story or his struggle.

Ziegel was on a tour in Iraq when a suicide bomber blew up near his truck. He lost his left hand and fingers on his right, fractured his skull and suffered severe burns in a blast on Christmas Eve 2004.

After numerous surgeries, he returned to Metamora in 2006 as a hero. He died after falling on ice early Wednesday morning.

Those who knew Ziegel remembered him for his resilience and upbeat attitude.

Family friends Phil and Renee Schertz of Metamora recalled how their young children were frightened when they saw him after the explosion.

“Ty told them not to be afraid and told them what happened,” she said. “By the time he got done talking to them, they weren’t scared anymore.”

Ziegel had many friends before his deployment. After his injuries, it was his unbreakable spirit people remember more than his scars.

“We knew Ty since he was a little one. He grew up to be a great man and served his country, faced many struggles,” said Phil Schertz. “Nobody felt sorry. It wasn’t pity. It was love.”

While Ziegel became known as a war hero, his family earned the respect of the community. Many attendees came to support parents Rebecca and Jeffrey and brother Zachary, who is also a Marine.

“We didn’t get to know Ty real well. We knew his family,” Mike Staley of Peoria said. “Great family, and I’m proud to know them.”

Nearly 2,000 flags lined the streets of Metamora for miles in memory of the former soldier.

“It’s so important that we make it as impressive as possible. As long as they remember the flags, they’ll remember Tyler,” said Larry Eckhardt, a Little York man who provides flags for military funerals. “It’s an honor to be allowed to do it.”

Ziegel’s funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Mason Funeral Home, 219 E. Partridge St. in Metamora.

Source: PJ Star

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Tyler and Pete after being honored at a baseball game in Illinois, summer 2011

Tyler and Pete after being honored at the Peoria Chiefs baseball game in Illinois, summer 2011, with Lillian Newbury-Carey and Brooke Griffith

I didn’t know Tyler. In fact, I’d only met him once. I knew about the accident he and five other Marines were involved in back in 2004, but that was before Pete and my sister were together. In the past few days, I’ve read numerous articles, trying to learn who this man was, who the world lost this week.

I’ve learned a few things.

First, I learned that my brother-in-law was the one who sat next to him in the car bomb, and the one who pulled him from the wreckage, preserving his life for another eight years. Thank you, Pete.

Second, I learned that this was a man severely physically handicapped, who had “every right” to be angry and bitter, but spent his extra time raising money for injured men and women and was known for cheering up others. According to one report, several years ago, he was known for walking from room to room, encouraging others in recovery during his hospital stays.

Third, this was a man who shared his fame and victory. Last summer, when he was awarded the above plaque, Lillian told me he would not attend the ceremony unless Pete came and accepted alongside him.

This is a man we could all learn from, and I am sorry to know I will never have the chance to do that in person.

Semper Fi

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One thought on “Life elsewhere

  1. Pingback: All summed up and tidy | My adventures abroad...

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