The Army was where Tyler Adam Zody was headed after his Fleming Island High School graduation.
“This is a kid that at 3 or 4 said that’s what he was going to do,” said his father, Michael Zody, who lives in Clay County, Florida. “He picked infantry when he could have been anything in the Army.”
Thursday, three years after leaving home to start his career, and a couple of weeks after making sergeant, the younger Zody was killed while training at a Louisiana base.
Zody, 20, died and three other soldiers were injured in a single-vehicle accident during a routine vehicle movement to a training area, according to the Army. His father said he has been told it was a crash, and a Humvee rolled over. He said his son’s body is expected to be returned to Florida for Friday burial services, though details still need to be finalized.
In a short career that included a rapid rise to sergeant, the young soldier had been on a six-month tour of Afghanistan and was training for a return trip to that war zone.
His father, who spent 10 years in the military, said the first deployment was short and ended as the United States pulled away from the front.
“He was on the Pakistani border,” Michael Zody said.
The Zodys have always been a military family. Tyler Zody’s older brother just ended a stint with the Marines and other relatives have also served.
“Tyler was a dedicated and talented young NCO,” said Lt. Col. Marc Cloutier, commander of the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment out of Fort Campbell, Ky., that was Zody’s unit.
He was part of the Rakkasan brigade, the Army said.
He left Clay County for the Army in July 2011, right after graduating from high school. An outdoorsman, he liked the countryside surrounding Fort Campbell, which straddles the Tennessee and Kentucky border.
“He fished a lot, he hunted,” Michael Zody said. He’d also been in a casual relationship recently with a girl he met in Nashville.
His son had been home about two weeks ago on leave. And while his parents are no longer married, his father has three young children from a second marriage.
“He was the best big brother in the world,” the elder Zody said. “He always had time for them, always playing, always goofing. But he told them to use their manners.”
Tyler Zody returned to his unit July 7 to begin the training exercise.
“It’s hard to find comfort but at least he was doing what he loved,” his father said.