Monday, September 03, 2007

Michael Tully laid to rest

There are few bonds in life stronger than that of a father and a son.

Although Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Tully was buried Friday, father John "Jack" Tully's pride in his son is not diminished.

"He was the ideal son," Tully said in a phone interview Thursday morning. "He was a very good student, he was a member of the National Honor Society and played football. I had the opportunity to see some of the broadcasts (about Michael) and his football coach and guidance counselor remembered him well."

Sgt. 1st Class Tully died Aug. 23 from injuries he suffered when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device near Al Aziziya, southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. He had served as a Special Forces Medic with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Jack Tully said his son was "destined" to become a soldier.

"I always knew he would pursue a military career," Tully said. "All young boys play Army, but he was always out in the woods with his brother and they would camo themselves up with leaves, sometimes it was with poison ivy, but I knew he was destined to be a soldier."

He said although he had served in the military, some people, such as his son Michael, were just born to be soldiers. He doesn't feel his service was his son's sole influence.

After graduating from Brockway Area High School in 1992, Michael Tully joined the Marine Corps, special forces reconnaissance, and served as an underwater diver. After four years with the Marines, he then became a Green Beret. He received training as a combat medic and spoke Indonesian. During his years of service, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal Second Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal Second Award, the National Defense Service Medal Second Award, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge, the Scuba Diver Badge, the Ranger Tab and the Special Forces Tab. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

"His goal was to be a Green Beret," Jack Tully said. "He was always looking for a challenge and his achievements are overwhelming to me."

He said he has always been close with his two sons and his daughter. Since he and his sons enjoyed to hunt and fish, the Tully men were able to spend a lot of time together when his sons were growing up.

"I had a very good time with my boys," he said. "We had a lot of quiet times in the woods where we would sit and talk. A lot of people say they had good times with their children but I truly had those experiences. We talked and laughed and those memories are precious to me."

Tully said Michael was always a positive person. He said many of his son's comrades-in-arms talked about how he was always kind to everyone and how well he treated the people and especially children, he met in Iraq.

Tully said his son also had a passion for cars.

"He had a sports car and he had a motorcycle and he loved them. His friends called him the 'detail nut' because it wasn't uncommon to see Michael out washing his car twice and sometimes three times a day," Tully said. He said his son had a humorous side and was always able to make light of any situation.

Michael Tully was married to Heather Johnsen Tully. He has a 12-year-old son, Slade, whom Jack Tully describes as "a carbon copy of his dad."

"He did an interview with a television station and I think he did better than I did," Tully said of his grandson. "He's articulate and he's a good student. He remembers his dad as a caring person. The (military) deployments were hard but he (Michael) always made time for his son."

Tully also emphatically stresses that he has no animosity toward the armed services or the war in Iraq.

"All soldiers know this (death) could happen. There is so much support from the soldiers when one of their brothers fall. They've been here with my wife and I since we found out about Michael," Tully said. "I want people to keep remembering our soldiers, not just the ones fighting now, but anyone who has ever served, and that they didn't die in vain. I want this to be positive because everything Michael was around was always positive, even in death."

Tully hopes his son's motivation can be his legacy.

"It was his desire and dream to be the ultimate soldier and he achieved that. In his career and life, he always achieved what he wanted. If we could all do that in life, that is his legacy. I also want people to know that there really are heroes out there," he said. "I want people to know about my son and I don't want anything negative to come from his death."

Tully also expressed his gratitude to all the support from the local community.
"It's these little things the people are doing that are very touching," he said.

From Courier Express

Related Link:
Michael Tully remembered

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