Sunday, November 22, 2009

Army Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes, 19, of Moreno Valley, Calif.

Pfc. Tynes was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Benning, Ga.; died Nov. 22, 2009 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Sgt. James M. Nolen.

DoD News - Army Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes19, of Moreno Valley, Calif.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Benning, Ga.; died Nov. 22 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when

"Dearest Marcus, I was your librarian at Midland school and I remember you well. I attended the services held for you along with our principal, Mr. Flowers and Mr. Kaufman. Marcus, you did so much with your life during your nineteen short years. My heart breaks for your family and for the loss of you. You will always be in my prayers and thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. May God bless you and keep you in the warmth of his love."

Mrs. Workman posted Sunday about Army Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes, 19, of Moreno Valley, who was one of two paratroopers killed Nov. 22 when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy vehicle in southwest Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, on the Pakistani border.

The Los Angeles Times -- The first time Marcus A. Tynes suited up for a youth basketball game, his mother saw the change.

She already knew her big, vigorous boy would like sports. But she didn't realize how thrilled he would be just to don that team jersey. It made him proud, gave him a sense of belonging. "He just liked that uniform," she said. "It made him feel part of something."

As he grew, one uniform followed another. One for football at Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, and another for track. A favorite was one he wore as a Riverside County sheriff's Explorer.

He put on the Explorer's green slacks and tan shirt, complete with badge and "rocker" insignia, and a new version of himself emerged, said sheriff's Sgt. Melvin Rasmussen, Tynes' Explorer advisor. The clownish kid sobered up. He volunteered for extra tasks and chided his fellow Explorers to keep their grades up. "He just jumped in with both feet," Rasmussen said.

Those uniforms kept Tynes on track. They guided his transformation from a good-natured but unruly adolescent to dedicated young man.

He had his heart set on someday wearing the navy blues of a Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officer. Rasmussen encouraged him to do a stint in the military first -- standard career advice for a would-be police officer.

At 19, Tynes died an Army private first class, killed Nov. 22 when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy vehicle in southwest Afghanistan's Kandahar province, on the Pakistani border. Also killed was the paratrooper riding with him, Army Sgt. James Nolen, 25, of Alvin, Texas, who was on his second tour in Afghanistan. Both were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC.

Tynes was born in Bellflower and spent his first years in Compton and Long Beach before moving to Moreno Valley, said his mother, Dana Atlas, a nurse. He attended several schools, including Mountain View Middle School.

At Valley View High, his teachers liked him but sometimes struggled to contain him. He was happy, gregarious -- and disinclined to sit still.

He was bright, but some kids may just not be meant for academics, said Jack Fogarty, head football coach. "He had to be outside doing things," he said. "Sitting behind a desk was a task."

Fogarty recalled getting exasperated more than once. But Tynes was cheerful and a good athlete. And as time wore on, it was clear that he also was devoted.

When he first joined the team, the Valley View Eagles were in a bad way. They lost all but one game the first season, Rasmussen said. Tynes and his teammates fought "to the bitter end," Fogarty said. Each year, the team improved.

Eventually, Tynes, with his stocky build and natural strength and quickness, made the all-league team as an offensive lineman. Fogarty credits him with helping to rebuild Valley View's struggling football program. The Eagles made the playoffs this year, Fogarty said.

Along the way, Tynes' parents, coaches and teachers talked to him frequently about goals. Like his Explorer advisor, his football coach thought the military idea was perfect. Tynes didn't take much convincing. Military service ran in his family. And of course, there was that uniform.

He knew his military and law enforcement dreams could be jeopardized by his classroom performance. So he stepped up his efforts. He graduated in June 2008 and enlisted in July. Tynes trained at Ft. Benning, Ga., and reported to Ft. Bragg in January. He left for his first Afghanistan tour in September.

At first, his mother had not been enthusiastic about the plan. But she wanted him to find his way. And when she saw her son in his new uniform, she had to admit it: She was proud.

Not long ago, during a break before leaving for Afghanistan, Tynes went back to visit his old mentors at Valley View, cutting a striking figure in his camouflage gear.

His former English teacher, Ben Harrer, noted how different he seemed. In class, he had been rambunctious. Now, in soldier's garb, he appeared mature, clearly pleased with his new role: Private first class. Rifleman.

Tynes' mother was at work when her husband brought the news of his death. Rasmussen, the sheriff's sergeant, heard a few days later. "It took my breath away," he said.

Harrer, the teacher, "had a bad feeling," when he heard that someone from Moreno Valley had died. When he learned it was Tynes, he searched his computer and found a photo of Tynes doing a class presentation.

In the photo, a husky, youthful Tynes reads a scene from Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." He appears to be trying to suppress a smile. He is wearing his football uniform.

Tynes' body was flown to California on Thursday. His family waited in the bright sunshine to take him to a burial site next to his grandfather's grave at Pierce Bros. Crestlawn Memorial Park & Cemetery in Riverside.

In addition to his parents, Bruce and Dana Atlas of Moreno Valley, Tynes is survived by the Atlas siblings, Fallon, 26, Brittney, 20, Johannes, 15, Summer, 4, and Savannah, 2; and his biological father, Marcus Tynes Sr. The family does not use the terms "step" or "half"; they consider themselves one family, his mother said.

Army Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes was killed in action on 11/22/09.

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