Local News

May 8, 2014

Marine ‘loved this country’

Tyler Skelly wasn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

“He had always thought about joining the service and wanted to join the most difficult branch, which he felt like was the Marines,” his mother, Stacy Skelly of Dalton, said. “That’s why he joined the Marine Corps — they’re the strongest and most difficult.”

Tyler Skelly enlisted in 2008 and served in Iraq and Bahrain, his mother said. In 2011 when he was in Bahrain he suffered a seizure related to undiagnosed diabetes and hit his head on concrete during a fall. He was hospitalized and expected to recover, but when forces came to take him from a Bahrainian hospital to one in Germany, no one told them Tyler had been on an insulin drip, she said. His blood sugar dropped to 12 when he should have been close to 100, and he suffered a stroke.

He had to receive care ever since. On April 29, the 26-year-old passed away. On Monday, he was buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery with full military honors. Patriot Guard motorcycle riders escorted his body and his family from Ponders Funeral Home in Dalton to the grave site.

“There were probably 50 of them (Patriot Guard riders) who came out and held their flags for Tyler and lined the way when the casket was brought out to the hearse,” Stacy Skelly said. “Then they led the hearse all the way to Tennessee to the National Cemetery. That was nice, and people between here and there we’d see them pulled over and saluting and putting their hand over their heart, just regular citizens, which was really nice.”

Stacy Skelly said the family is from California but she has lived in Dalton for about a year. Tyler was living in a facility for patients with brain injuries in Roswell, she said. Before that, the family lived in LaFayette for several years.

After enlisting, Tyler went to Parris Island, S.C., for recruit training in July 2008. He was assigned to a reserve unit based in Rome, Ga., which was called up to Iraq in 2009. Stacy Skelly said Tyler was unable to talk about the exact nature of his job because of military policy, but he was trained to be an ammunition technician and was involved in some special operations.

She said seeing the display of patriotism and support meant a lot to her. On one of the overpasses during the funeral procession, a few people had gathered to hold a flag as the procession went by.

“I don’t know who did that, but it was really nice of them,” she said.

Skelly said her son had talked about making a career out of the Marines before his health took a turn for the worse. She said he believed in U.S. troops being in Iraq to help train their citizens to defend themselves.

“He loved our country, and he was brave and strong, and he was very active and he was honest,” she said. “He just loved this country and loved the people, all of us who live here, and couldn’t wait to be deployed to fight for his country. He would still be deployed, I’m sure, if he could.”

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