By Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — As hundreds gathered on the six-month anniversary of Capt. David Lyon’s death, the Team Pete family was brought together through the celebration of a man’s life. The impact he had on others was clearly shown by the stories crowd members were whispering as the ceremony began; stories of a man who truly gave it all in everything he did.
Eagle Park, where the base 5Ks start and finish and where most units hold summer picnics, was re-named in his honor June 27 at 1 p.m., almost exactly six months to the minute he and other members of his team were struck by a vehicle borne improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. The park, located behind the base gym and bowling alley, is a fitting memorial for a man whose aim was to bring people together, work hard, be committed to others and bring out the best in everyone.
“He was passionate about life, he was passionate about serving in the military and its mission,” said Capt. Dana Lyon, David Lyon’s widow. “He was all-in about his people, he knew he wanted to bring the best out of everyone because he knew it took a team to accomplish the mission; that’s the quality of the man and leader he was.”
During the memorial service, which drew a crowd reminiscent of David Lyon’s larger than life personality, several base members spoke; some were his friends and others his commanders. One phrase stuck out and was repeated many times, “David Lyon was a leader of people.”
His parents, Bob and Jeannie Lyon, said he exhibited that trait very early in life. Jeannie raised David by herself until fifth grade when Bob came into David’s life. Bob, who was new to the family, said David taught him how to be a better father.
“It was apparent early on that he was special,” said Bob Lyon. “Since he graduated from the Academy, he would always talk about his new friends and how many people he got to work with. It’s still astounding to me how many people he touched. My son David grew into a giant.”
His leadership carried on through his time in service as a logistics readiness officer, where he was constantly at the top of his profession. Five years into his service, he had already won several annual awards but felt he hadn’t truly made the difference he wanted to, so he volunteered with the help of his squadron and group commander for an out-of-the-ordinary deployment, where he could make the most difference, said Col. Charles Arnold, David’s former Mission Support Group commander.
“When David was deployed, he would call us and say ‘they need me and they need us,’” said Jeannie Lyon. “He was making a difference and he said he was having the best time of his life.”
While on his deployment, he served with Army Special Forces training Afghan Commandos, where his commander Col. Brian Petit, now with the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, said he made a tremendous difference.
“He was a man of great presence and of great impact, not only contributing to the mission but he was a man of incredible integrity and character,” said Petit. “He was exceptional working with the Afghans, it was a very difficult job. He seemed to just have a gift for everything he did and he made a tremendous difference in our mission. As a small team, everyone knew [David Lyon]. When we lost Dave on Dec. 27, it was devastating to our unit. If someone who is joining the Air Force wants a role-model, this is the man. He was intelligent, physically fit, morally straight, compassionate and tough as nails.”
David Lyon’s contributions to many people’s lives, both here and in foreign lands, have been memorialized several different ways. Thule Air Base, Greenland, ran a 13-mile memorial and the Navy’s newest pre-positioned motor vessel, which will provide agile combat support by prepositioning munitions afloat within theaters of operation, will be named in his honor. Lt. Col. Jim Lovewell, who was David Lyon’s previous squadron commander, brought home coins and pictures from the run at Thule AB, and the ceremony to rename the ship will happen later this year.
While his military service will remain part of the history of the armed services, the stories people were whispering in the audience were about him as a man.
“I would love people to know the person and the man he was outside of the military machine everyone knows him as,” said Dana Lyon. “His passion for people and relationships did not fade out of uniform. He was a gatherer of people, he either saw the potential in someone or wanted to find it and help them achieve it. He absolutely made me a better woman, just as he helped others achieve their goals. I hope people continue to share his story because he set a great example; it’s so unfortunate the good ones go early but I was blessed to be his wife if only for five short years.”
As the ceremony concluded, the crowd began a 5K memorial run, starting and ending with push-ups. A bench, two stones and a plaque sit at the park now with a walkway, where thousands of service members will start and end their base 5Ks.
The plaque reads, “Leader, mentor, warrior, beloved husband, son, brother, friend, a man of character and integrity. Capt. Dave Lyon served as the logistics readiness officer for the 21st LRS at Peterson Air Force Base, CO. Dave was a 2008 USAFA grad and stand-out athlete. He will always be remembered for his love for God, his family and those he lived to serve.”