Monday, August 27, 2007

Michael J. Tully dies 'of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device'

A South Park native and Green Beret combat medic who was killed in Iraq was both a proud soldier and a compassionate man, his father said Saturday.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Tully, 33, died Thursday in Baghdad when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Sgt. 1st Class Adrian M. Elizalde, 30, of North Bend, Ind., was also killed.

Tully's father, John Tully, said he treasures a recent snapshot of his son comforting a young Iraqi girl, who was burned.

"You could see his hand reaching for her to say, 'Honey, don't be afraid,' " John Tully said.

Michael Tully was born in St. Clair Hospital and lived in South Park until the age of 7, when his parents divorced. He and his brother stayed with their father in Upper St. Clair and Bridgeville.
The family eventually settled in Falls Creek, Jefferson County.

Tully still has relatives in Pittsburgh, including an aunt, Jean Jankowski, who lives in Sheraden. His mother, Dolores Newman, lives in Glendale, Ariz.

Despite the distances separating them, Michael Tully was very close to his parents and to his son Slade, 12, who lives in Florida.

He called frequently, the last time on Thursday morning, John Tully said.

"He was telling us, 'I gotta go get a shower and get ready for work,' but he just wanted to say that he loved me, and, 'Don't worry about me. I'll be fine,' " his father said.

A National Honor Society student at Brockway High School, Jefferson County, Tully joined the Marine Corps immediately after graduation and trained as a scuba diver.

After serving four years in the Marines, Michael Tully switched to the Army. He trained as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, then become a Ranger. Later he was selected for the Army special forces, known as the Green Berets, and became a combat medic.

During his training in U.S. hospitals, he delivered a baby one night, which his father said was one of the happiest moments of his son's life.

John Tully said when his oldest son, John R. Tully, got a look at his younger brother in uniform after basic training, he enlisted in the Army the next day. Both were stationed in Iraq, and the older brother is accompanying his younger brother's body back to Falls Creek, where he will be buried.

"People have to understand there are a lot of people out there like Michael, who do this every day. We've got to be proud of people like that," Tully said.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune