Speech given by Lona Parten on behalf of the 2009 Lee County Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year” award presented to her son the late 1st Lt Tyler Parten on November 10, 2009
Wow! This is bittersweet. It’s only been two months since we were notified of Tyler’s death. First I would like to say that I am not a speaker, but I felt as his mother that I must speak on his behalf. Why? Well simply it because he’s not here and that’s what mother’s do. They still carry on for their children. Today I’m speaking on behalf of the Parten family and the Pruett family.
Parents and grandparents raise a child, but a community supports a child. As I look around, I see many people here tonight that have touched my child, our child’s life.
When I found out that Tyler was going to be receiving this honor, I immediately stated I would speak. Later I thought that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. What was I going to say that would leave a lasting impression or be an inspiration to all? I prayed hard, then had to sit back for a bit and let it come to me and it did.
I had the honor of attending a memorial service held at Fort Carson, Colorado last month in which Tyler and five other soldiers that had died that month were honored. Each soldier had an officer speak on their behalf. I remembered the memorial remarks written and read by Cpt. Corey Steiner regarding my son.
Every parent wants their children to make an impact on this world or at least lead a fulfilling life. We raise our children, but when they go out into the world, how do people visualize them? Cpt. Steiner’s remarks spoke of the man Tyler was away from Lee County. I would like to read those remarks to you tonight.
Memorial remarks read at the Fort Carson Memorial on October 14, 2009
(written and spoken by Cpt. Corey Steiner)
1LT Tyler Parten was a man with a zest for life. He possessed all the traits of a great friend and leader: intelligence, compassion, courage, and desire. Tyler began his service with 3-61 Cavalry as the Squadron’s personnel officer. As the S1, Tyler worked right next to MAJ Keeler. Those of you that know MAJ Keeler know that he is a great person, but has a tendency to be very intense. A Second Lieutenant with a lesser personality would have been intimidated, and likely folded under the pressure. Not Tyler. He thrived working with MAJ Keeler. His personality and fun-loving style was the perfect balance in a relationship between the Squadron’s XO, and the thankless job of the S1.
Tyler had bigger goals for himself. He, like all Lieutenants, wanted a platoon. As the Squadron learned more about where in Afghanistan we would be going and how the unit that had been in place there was arrayed on the battlefield, it became evident that there was a need for an HHT maneuver platoon. There was no better choice than LT Parten to be its leader. The platoon was dubbed the “Recon Platoon,” and would later earn the name, the “Hatchet Platoon;” a cross breed of infantryman and scouts. Tyler was given the difficult task of not only training these men and forging a cohesive team, but also managing the inherent arrogance that comes with mixing combat MOS’s. Tyler took on this task with pride, he and his platoon sergeant went to work molding their unit and developing one of the strongest platoons in the Squadron. I have been told that you can tell a lot about a leader by what he leaves behind after he is gone. LTC Brown, the Squadron Commander, says of what Tyler left behind: “Tyler led his platoon with courage and distinction, and leaves behind a great unit that is committed to carrying on with their mission.”
The Army was not all there was to Tyler Parten. He was a caring, Godly man who strived to achieve new heights at every endeavor. He was an experienced outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking and climbing. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with his brother Daniel and made plans with a friend of his from the unit, CPT John Lee, to climb another mountain upon their return from the deployment. Tyler was a talented musician, who wrote a song while conducting the Squadron’s spur ride. A spur ride, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a right of passage granting those who complete it the right to wear silver spurs at unit functions. They are typically challenging, both physically and mentally, and test one’s ability to complete Cavalry tasks all while being welcomed in Army style by a group of spur holders who walked further, climbed higher, slept less, and did their spur ride in worse weather than you are doing yours. Tyler wrote an Irish ballad, which he named “The Damn Silver Spur” while walking the hills of Fort Carson. At the spur presentation ceremony, Tyler and his team sang their song, entertaining the entire unit, and creating a lasting memory for all involved. Tyler wrote a symphony while on the top of an OP in Afghanistan. He spoke fluent Arabic, was someone who read frequently and capable of having a long, detailed, and intelligent conversation with anyone about anything. He was a man of principle, honor, and dignity who shared those traits with others and encouraged them to be more like him.
Tyler had an unmatched smile. He was always keeping the mood light and his laugh could be heard from great distances. His personality naturally drew people to him. His table was always the first to fill at Squadron functions; his jokes were the ones which caused people to laugh the hardest. Tyler was known for his passion. He was passionate about life, about God, and about his Soldiers. He was never arrogant, nor too prideful, but I know what he thought of his Soldiers. Actions speak louder than words. Tyler’s platoon was the Squadron’s Quick Reaction Force on the day he was killed. They were activated to help a platoon from another Troop which had suffered wounded Soldiers and was in need of help to get the situation under control. Tyler arrived on scene and without hesitation began moving his platoon toward ground that was vital to the safety of others and overall success of the mission. Unfortunately, the enemy also understood the value of this terrain and was holding it, using it to fire upon US Forces. Tyler attacked up the hill, taking the fight to enemy in order to secure the high ground and provide cover for his friends.
We will miss an incredible man, leader and friend. The example he set was one of selflessness, courage, laughter, and compassion. The Soldiers of the Hatchet platoon remember Tyler as a “fun-spirited, full of life Soldier who never let the hard times bring down his morale.” People say that Tyler always saw thing differently than most, and he did. He saw things through the eyes of a man who held strong in his faith, beliefs, and morals. Tyler’s spirit will undoubtedly remain with the Hatchet platoon, his example, courage, and love for Soldiers will not be forgotten.