Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.
Robert Mondavi

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Tribute to a Hero: Kyle Van De Giesen

Editor’s Note: I am taking the week off from writing about wine, because sometimes there are far more important things.

It is funny how certain events in life cause you to deeply reflect on the past, present and future. Typically, we go to work and when we get there, we think about getting out and going home to see our families or go out with friends. Well, that is what one man was thinking about doing just a couple days ago.


His day probably started just like every other day, maybe with a morning run or something else exceedingly normal. He was probably thinking about the following week when he would be reunited with his family. Seemingly normal stuff. That is until he would power-up his Cobra helicopter and those moments of normalcy were gone. This is somewhat fitting for someone who in my mind and memories was not in the least bit normal.


Kyle Van De Giesen was not normal in the sense that he had a certain aura about him that most people do not possess. He was the calm and collected figure who so easily managed a huddle during a two-minute drill or could go up to a troubled kicker who had just missed a field goal and somehow get through to them to relax, this is only a game. Relax, this is only a game led him to leave behind the sport he loved to pursue the dream he had always imagined. It was his composure, leadership, sense of the moment and self-belief that Kyle walked with during the days that I knew him at Saint Anselm College.

It was these aforementioned characteristics that allowed Kyle to fly choppers into areas of the world that very closely resemble Hell and look back at his day as normal. According to his family and friends, his life’s dream was to be a military helicopter pilot. It is not often that one gets to live out one’s dreams. For this, we must consider Kyle lucky. Unfortunately for this brave Marine, that dream and any semblance of normalcy ended. Captain Kyle Van De Giesen was killed just days ago when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.


To Kyle’s credit, he leaves behind a list of friends and loved ones befitting a hero. Unfortunately, this tragedy's other victims are his loving wife, daughter and soon-to-be-born son. This loss to them is something that I have imagined myself and cried relentlessly over, yet I know that is but a modicum of what they feel. No one can diminish that. But let us not forget what Kyle has come to mean to all of us. He embodied the selfless, courageous and loving hero that we all wish we could be. The kind of man who would go to places like Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a war in order to keep safe his family and friends back home. For that reason, although he is no longer with us in the flesh, Kyle Van De Giesen will hold a place of utmost nobility in our hearts and minds.


Relax, this is only a game. At the time, it seemed like such a simple concept, you missed a field goal, get over it, you will have another opportunity to redeem yourself. However, when you think about that comment in hindsight, it puts everything into perspective. I sit here tonight wondering if Kyle ever thought about what he said that day against Dartmouth. If he did, I bet he had a good laugh. What a silly thing to get distraught over.


We will all miss you Kyle, you were a great friend and teammate to many. Your legacy will live on as only a true hero’s legacy can.

Updated 10/30: Remembering Kyle Van De Giesen (YouTube)


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