Tyler R. Walshe joined the Army to make his parents proud, fight America’s enemies and make a career in the military.
After he arrived in Afghanistan on his first combat tour in July -- weeks after he turned 21 -- he told his wife that he had discovered a new reason for fighting.
“You realize you’re fighting for the guys next to you, so you can all come home,” his 20-year-old wife, Kirsten, recalled him saying. “We talked about that a lot of times.”
On Aug. 31, just weeks into his first tour, the Army specialist from the Northern California community of Shasta Lake was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near him in southern Afghanistan. A machine gunner, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis, Wash.
Two other soldiers from the brigade -- , 19, of Yorba Linda and Pfc. Jordan M. Brochu, 20, of Cumberland, Maine -- were killed in a separate attack the same day.
Walshe was born in Sacramento and attended Central Valley High School in Shasta Lake, graduating in 2006. He joined the Army later that year and was assigned to Ft. Lewis in early 2007.
Soon after, mutual friends set him up with his future wife. He met her at the Subway sandwich shop where she was working. As he leaned over the counter, he said his first words to her: “So, what are you making me?”
Walshe loved tattoos, and covered his arms with them. One depicted Michael Myers, the slasher from the Halloween films. In late 2007, soon after marrying, he had this message tattooed on his chest: “Kirsten, I promise you the rest of my life.”
When their daughter Karsyn was born last November, Kirsten said, “He would not let go of her. That little girl was Tyler’s life. Everything about him changed. He wasn’t living for himself anymore.”
Walshe liked Army life and recently had reenlisted. On weekends, he was quarterback for the semipro Tacoma Invaders football team, a role he kept until right before his deployment. Originally, the Army had informed him that he would be sent to Iraq, and he went to language school to study Arabic. Then came orders to go to Afghanistan.
Walshe, who received the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Combat Infantry Badge, wrote his wife regularly from the war zone. Two of his letters arrived after he died, as well as a postcard he had addressed to his daughter.
“He had a love for life that I never saw in anybody,” his wife said. “It didn’t matter if he was taking out the garbage -- he was happy to do it.”
In addition to his wife and daughter, Walshe is survived by his mother and stepfather, Dawn and Paul Vietti; and three teenage brothers. The young man had grown up using Vietti as his last name, but Walshe was his legal name and the one he used in the Army, his stepfather said.
Sgt. Evan Lunt, who served with Walshe in the 17th Infantry Regiment, escorted Walshe’s cremated remains to his parents. Paul Vietti said a memorial service was held for his stepson on the baseball field at Central Valley High, where he once had pitched for the school team.