ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Phillip A. Myers Buried at Arlington
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
When Air Force Tech. Sgt. Phillip A. Myers returned to the United States this month after a decade of service to his country, his arrival received news coverage around the world.
Myers, 30, was killed April 4 near Helmand province in Afghanistan by a makeshift bomb. The arrival of his remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware the next day was the first to be covered by the news media since Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates lifted a 1991 ban on news coverage.
That night, his return was attended by a small group that included his wife, Aimee, his parents, brother and uncle. Yesterday, they were joined by hundreds of others who gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to say goodbye to Myers.
He was born and raised in Hopewell, Va., and was like "any other teenager," interested in cars and music, said his father, Eddie Myers of Prince George County, Va. He graduated from Hopewell High School in 1996 and worked at the Riverside Regional Jail in Hopewell before joining the military.
When Phillip Myers decided to join the Air Force, his father did not expect him to choose explosive ordinance technician, or bomb technician, as his specialty. "That was the biggest thing that surprised me," his father said. Myers half-jokingly told his father that he took on the job because it paid more, but he wound up loving the work and finding direction in the military.
"If there's anything we can find comfort in, it's knowing that he died doing what he loved to do," his father said. "That is without a doubt. He was just so enthused about it."
Myers was in charge of explosive ordnance disposal equipment with the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, based in England. He was the 2008 U.S. Air Force Military Technician of the Year and had been awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, according to his base.
He had been overseas since entering active duty in May 1999, stationed in Turkey, Italy and Iraq. He was due back in the United States in mid-July, his father said.
Family and friends followed a horse-drawn caisson along Bradley Road yesterday and gathered along the southern edge of cemetery Section 60. It was a hot day, although tall trees lining the road provided some shade. Behind them, a contingent from the motorcycle group known as the Patriot Guard Riders stood watch.
Flags were given to Myers's wife; his son, Kaiden; and daughter, Dakotah; his mother, Treasa Hamilton; and his father. Gates was among those who spoke to the family at the end of the service.
Eddie Myers said his son looked out for the people serving under him.
"If he thought a job was too dangerous, he would get out and check it out himself," he said. "That might be why we don't have Phillip here today. But to me, that's admirable. That's the kind of guy he was."
Aimee Myers approved the media coverage at Dover, according to her father-in-law. "She wanted the world to see what was going on over there, to let the world see that it is bodies coming back," he said.
Eddie Myers said the family was proud that his son was the first to return under the new media policy. He described the April 5 ceremony as "very emotional."
Myers was the 90th casualty from the Afghanistan conflict buried at Arlington.