Son receives father's Purple Heart at Fort Rucker
November 18, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- A son visited the installation Nov. 10 to remember and honor his father, a Soldier who fell in battle last year.
CW3 Niall Lyons, B Company, 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, received the Purple Heart for his actions in Afghanistan Oct. 26, 2009.
His MH-47G aircraft, beginning ex-filtration of forces, received enemy fire, causing the helicopter to crash and catch fire.
John Patrick Lyons, Niall's 10-year-old son, said it was an honor to accept the medal on his father's behalf, but it would have been better for him to have been there instead.
"I've got a case with his other medals in it," he said. "I'm going to put this one in its own and keep it in with the others."
Niall also received the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal posthumously.
Brig. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, presented the medal and explained the significance of it.
"This is the only medal we have in the U.S. military that is awarded because you earn it," he said. "Every other medal requires a nomination from a commander. Your father has earned the right to wear this medal."
John Patrick currently lives with his mother, April N. Lyons, in Dothan. April said Niall would be proud of his son and wouldn't want anyone else to have the medal.
"(John Patrick) has really been anticipating this because it's important to him that his daddy is recognized," she said. "It's a rush of emotion. (Niall) had the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. He would do anything to help just about anyone."
Phil Schmiesing, 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment civilian instructor pilot and John Patrick's godfather, said Niall was someone he could always count on.
"There really was nothing he wouldn't do for another person," he said. "John Patrick really was his main reason for living and he wouldn't want anyone else to have the award."
Dudley Carver, C Co., 1st Bn., 14th Avn. Regt. civilian instructor pilot, worked with Niall in the past and said he was a hard worker and somebody he was happy to have known.
"He always put any personal hardships aside and completed any tasks put in front of him for the good of his students," Carver said. "He was very meticulous and methodical. I think he'd be proud today that his son was here to receive the medal for him."
The Purple Heart was originally conceived by George Washington, first U.S. president, Crutchfield said. It was originally called the Medal of Merit and only three were given during the Revolutionary War.
It was redesigned and renamed the Purple Heart after World War I.