Monday, September 03, 2007

Tyler Seideman laid to rest

The town of Lincoln was quiet Saturday morning. Every vehicle on the street was heading to the high school, and a sign next to a gas station explained it all: “ Tyler Seideman, our fallen hero. ”

The 20-year-old Lincoln man was among 14 U. S. soldiers killed Wednesday when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in northern Iraq. His memorial service was held in a packed Lincoln High School auditorium.

An American flag-draped coffin sat in the front, a picture of a happy Seideman projected on a screen right above it as Berry Kercheville, a speaker at the funeral, gave the group some words of encouragement to help cope with the man’s death.

“ Tyler wanted to serve, and he died serving, ” Kercheville said. “ He now serves before that great throne forever and ever. ”

Kyle Maddox, a high school friend of Seideman, said he’s already felt the loss of his friend.

“ Tyler was a character, ” he said. “ It’s almost like the energy of the group has been lowered without him. ”

The service went on as tears flowed from the eyes of those who knew and had been touched by Seideman.

Kercheville read a letter written by Seideman’s father, Bill Seideman. It painted his son as an energetic man who loved life and all it had to offer.

“ He proudly wore his Lincoln (High School ) football training shirt that said ‘ Respect is earned, not given, ’” Bill Seideman wrote in the letter as he went over fond memories of his son. “ He even played Daddy Warbucks in his high school musical, ‘ Annie. ’ ”

The audience laughed at the last part when the dad also noted that one of Tyler’s younger sister’s told him after the performance that he did pretty good, despite the fact that he couldn’t sing.

The final memory was of a goal Seideman had set for himself when he returned from Iraq. He wanted to build a log cabin with his best friend, Logan Biswell, who graduated with Seideman in 2004 from Lincoln High School and is also serving in the army.

“ Tyler did not get to build his log cabin, but we hope and pray that God has something better for him, ” Bill Seideman’s letter ended.

A slide show at the end of the service displayed the story of Seideman’s life from a giggling baby to a strapping young man. Every one of the pictures contained a smiling guy who was usually surrounded by smiling friends and family. The slide show gave a face and a personality to the fallen solider.

“ He was a gentleman and a great role model, ” Isaac West, another one of Seideman’s high school friends, said.

Seideman was honored even more on his journey from Lincoln to his final resting place at the National Cemetery in Fayetteville. The hearse was escorted by about 100 motorcycling “ Patriot Patrollers” as well as a lengthy procession. Along the way locals welcomed the group with American flags and crosses to honor the fallen soldier.

At the cemetery, an honor guard saluted Seideman’s sacrifice with rifle shots, followed by a solemn playing of “ Taps. ” U. S. Congressman John Boozman attended the funeral and said he did so as a friend of the family as well as to demonstrate how important Seideman’s sacrifice was to his country.

“ It’s a tragedy, ” Boozman said. “ This guy was the cream of the crop. He’s the kind of kid we’d all like to have. ”

Boozman, who just returned from Iraq, said it hits close to home for him.

“ You’re over there, and you realize we have so many men and women working so hard, and it’s a dangerous place, ” he said. “ We’re all proud of (Seideman’s ) sacrifice. ”

From the Northwest Arkansas Times

For the next several weeks during football season, this space will be filled with stories and opinions about high school players, coaches and games won and lost.

But not today.

The sports pages are often used as an escape from the realities of the world, where a bridge collapses in Minnesota, homes are lost to fire and floods and American soldiers die in faraway countries.

Sometimes, these realities hit so close to home they can’t be overlooked, and today is one of those days.

Spc. Tyler Ross Seideman, 20, of Lincoln was among 14 U. S. soldiers killed Aug. 22 after a helicopter crash in northern Iraq. He was a 2004 graduate of Lincoln who enjoyed playing sports and was described by friends as a good athlete. A service was held Saturday at the Lincoln High School auditorium, and he was buried later in the day at Fayetteville National Cemetery.

Seideman played football and baseball for Lincoln, home of the Wolves. He was a tight end and defensive end noted for his fighting spirit and leadership ability. Those were the same qualities that prompted Seideman to join the military and go to war for his country.

“Tyler played for me for three years, and he was a hard worker and a good kid,” said former Lincoln Coach Mike Guthrie, who now coaches at Cedarville. “He stuck with it during lean times when we weren’t very good, but he was a good athlete who played both ways and always gave it everything he had.

“ When I heard about his death, I couldn’t believe it. I just sat down and was speechless.”

Seideman and Spc. Donovan Witham, 20, of Malvern died the same week, increasing the number to 60 soldiers with Arkansas roots who have perished in the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Witham was killed when explosives detonated near his vehicle.

Both are gone now, forever 20.

A moment of silence was observed for Seideman on Thursday in Lincoln during a junior high game and again in the Wolves’ season-opener Friday night at Westville, Okla. Lincoln will honor Seideman with a memorial of some sort, though nothing has been decided yet.

“It’s been real tough over here all week, you can feel [the sadness ],” Lincoln Coach Jonathan Johnson said. “I didn’t know him, but a lot of people here did. It’s a terrible thing that’s happened.” The sports pages are filled with high school players who have futures as college and sometimes professional athletes. Lincoln has produced few star athletes, but there are heroes in the community, and Tyler Ross Seideman is the latest. Next week, the focus here will return to high school players and coaches and the outcome of games that seem so important when they really aren’t. But not today.

From the Democrat Gazette

Related Link:
Tyler Seideman remembered

Related Link:
Tyler R. Seideman dies 'of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed'