LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA – “Ty Barnes was a hero to me, he was a hero to his teammates, his friends and the families who knew him in Okinawa, Japan and here in Washington,” said Lt. Col. John Traxler, former commander of Staff Sgt. Ty Barnes, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron combat controller.
These were some of the many kind words spoken about Barnes during a special memorial service for the fallen Airman, Aug. 29 at hangar 9.
Barnes died from injuries received from a motorcycle accident Aug. 20 in Gig Harbor, Wash. He was born Nov. 20, 1988, graduated from Gig Harbor High School in 2006 and enlisted the U.S. Air Force soon after.
After two years of rigorous training, Barnes graduated as a combat controller. His assignments included a two-year tour at the 320th STS in Okinawa, Japan and his current assignment to the 22nd STS in April 2012.
Traxler spoke of Barnes as he led the remarks during the memorial service.
“Ty attacked his work and his life with a fervor few people will ever know,” said Traxler. “He was changing the world from Korea to Japan to Thailand. He was a teacher, a mentor and a leader. From swift water training to humanitarian aid, he left his mark on the people and nations of the Asian Pacific.
As the services continued, members of his current unit continued to speak great thoughts about the fallen Airman. The one theme that continued throughout each speech was brotherhood and after they were done his brothers, Chad and Nathan, had a chance to speak as well.
“He was always there for me and I am going to miss him being there,” said Chad. “Even though he was my little brother, I looked up to him as he had more soul and character than any other individual I have ever met in my life.
“He lived every day to the fullest,” he added. “He was a thrill seeker who was always trying to find that natural high and that is why he joined the Air Force. He loved music and was very passionate about that and most of all, he loved his family.”
Chad told a story of when they were younger boys, approximately 10 years old. He said that Ty came to him and said, “Chad, I know how we can get along…we just need to respect each other, if we do that then we will always get along.” Chad knew right then that his brother was going to be something special.
Nathan echoed his brother’s comments.
“Ty was a brother through blood to us but he was a brother to all of you through his sweat and tears,” said Nathan. “I cannot get over all his ‘brothers and sisters’ who have come out to support our family during this tough time. It is obvious he was loved by all.”
One final touch to the memorial service was the posthumous award of the Air Force Commendation Medal to Ty’s mother, Alisa, who accepted on his behalf.
As the memorial came to an end and the hanger was filled with silence, attendees came up and showed their respect, saluting the memorial, pausing to reflect or gently touch his dog tags.
“He was one of America’s best and brightest,” said Maj. Samuel Gray III, 22nd STS commander. “He has left a lasting impression on me, our unit and the special tactics community forever.”