ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Honoring Fallen 14 With 'Quiet Strength'
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Four Black Hawk helicopters skimmed overhead against the backdrop of a gray, cloudy sky. Below, more than 150 people brought together by tragedy and united in grief gathered yesterday to pay tribute to 14 soldiers honored at Arlington National Cemetery.
The soldiers were killed Aug. 22, 2007, in a helicopter crash in Multaka, Iraq. Each had been buried separately. But 14 months after the accident, which was caused by mechanical failure, family and friends bundled together on a chilly October morning for a group tribute.
The mourners followed a horse-drawn caisson bearing a single flag-cloaked silver coffin up Bradley Drive. The coffin was carried to Section 60 of the cemetery and placed amid a bevy of red, white and blue flowers.
As part of the service, folded flags were given to parents and siblings, widows and a best friend. Each flag was touched for a moment to the coffin before being handed to the loved ones of the fallen soldiers.
The soldiers were between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. They hailed from 11 states, spanning from California to Massachusetts.
Capt. Corry P. Tyler, 29, of Woodbine, Ga., graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1999 and had deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2006. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul J. Flynn, 28, of Whitsett, N.C., was a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot with a decade of service.
The eldest soldier, Sgt. Matthew L. Tallman, 30, of Groveland, Calif., was a tall, easygoing man and a devoted father, family members told the Los Angeles Times.
The youngest soldiers were Cpl. Joshua S. Harmon, of Mentor, Ohio, and Spec. Tyler R. Seideman, of Lincoln, Ark., both 20. Harmon, a medic, had married his wife, Kristin, 84 days before his death, she told the News-Herald in Ohio. Seideman, who loved to joke, was a generous person who would "give you the shirt off his back if you needed it," said his best friend, Jeremy Bolivear, at a memorial service honoring the soldier, according to the Morning News in Arkansas.
Spec. Rickey L. Bell, 21, of Caruthersville, Mo., joined the military in 2005 after graduating from high school.
Tyler, Flynn, Tallman and Bell were assigned to the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Air Cavalry Regiment based at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Capt. Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wis., was selfless, kind and too modest to boast about his accomplishments, his family said in a statement last year. "Therefore, we will honor him with quiet strength," relatives said.
Staff Sgt. Jason L. Paton, 25, of Poway, Calif., was to be married Nov. 18, 2007, family members told the Los Angeles Times. He had deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq before, and his second deployment to Iraq was scheduled to end three weeks after the helicopter crash.