With a love for his family, his school and his country, Sean Lyerly went to Iraq to serve. The Texas Army National Guard captain was at the helm of a Blackhawk helicopter Saturday when it crashed, killing everyone on board.
His father, George, lives in Bryan.
"It's a heritage that he's carried on," George said of his Aggie son. Service to country isn't something foreign to Sean Lyerly's family. Neither is going to Texas A&M. His father and uncles attended.
"He immediately joined the Parsons Mounted Cavalry and very much enjoyed that," George said of his son, a member of the Class of '98. "He definitely enjoyed the Corps life and the military section of it."
But there was another love for the son of a Brazilian step-mother and a well-travelled father, a son that spent months in the South American nation: horticulture.
"He was constantly going and planting seeds and transplanting bananas and papaya and guava," George said of Sean's 18-month stay north Rio de Janeiro when he was 16.
Armed with a horticulture degree from A&M, the member of the L-1 company became a guardsman, serving his country like uncles and cousins and father before him.
"He wanted to, and he died doing what he wanted to do," George said. He always wanted to be a helicopter pilot."
Since August, Sean had been flying missions in and around Baghdad. His father has been told by military officials that he had volunteered to ferry 11 members of the Arkansas National Guard when his Black Hawk was shot down by insurgents.
He leaves behind a young family, including a wife -- "Like my wife puts it, they were made in heaven for each other," George said -- and a son, who got a near-nightly treat from his dad these past few months.
"He'd get on the internet with the camera and read stories to his baby," George said.
And now, many stories to that three-year-old will revolve around a brave, energetic, charismatic father. The first thing young Zachary will remember?
"How happy he was," George said.
As for George's first memory? "Same thing."
Funeral services will take place in Pflugerville. A date and time have yet to be determined.
Captain Sean Lyerly was 31-years-old.
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