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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sandpoint airman honored at Idaho’s state 9/11 remembrance

BOISE – Only one name was added to Idaho’s Fallen Soldier Memorial on Sept. 11 this year – that of David Lyon of Sandpoint, who was killed last December in Afghanistan. It was “one too many,” Chaplain Jim Kennedy said at Thursday’s state ceremony; the number of names engraved on the memorial, listing all Idahoans who died in military service since Sept. 11, 2001, now comes to 67. But Lyon’s parents, Bob and Jeannie Lyon of Sandpoint, were appreciative. “It’s an amazing honor,” Bob Lyon said, unable to stop tears. “We’re very grateful. Freedom isn’t free, it’s not.” Bob Lyon himself is a proud Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. Jeannie Lyon noted that the U.S. Navy has named a ship in honor of her son. The MV Capt. David Lyon, a 604-foot-long ship in the Military Sealift Command, was chartered in Lyon’s honor in March. “I want you to know that one man can make a difference, and the differences that David has made in his life and what he has believed in have changed the course of many lives,” said Jeannie Lyon, who is a seventh-grade teacher at Sandpoint Middle School. “That ship epitomizes his philosophy of life, of, ‘Send me – I will protect those who are weak and oppressed. Send me – let me be their strength.’” Lyon was 28 when he died near Kabul, Afghanistan after a car bomb detonated near his convoy. He was a standout athlete at Sandpoint High School and the Air Force Academy who had served in the Air Force for five years; his wife, Dana, also is an Air Force captain. “David was always a very quiet boy and a very humble boy,” his mother recalled, “but also a very smart individual and a gifted athlete.” Thus, she said, “The biggest kid on the football team and the smartest kid in class” also typically was the last one to leave after high school football games – because he’d stay behind to mop the floors after everyone left. “He was a servant-leader,” she said. “I know he’s still serving.” During Tuesday’s ceremony, Gov. Butch Otter told a crowd of more than 100, including many families of the fallen, “Sixty-seven Idahoans did not come home, but they live here with us, and they are a part of us. … We are the reason they fought and died. … The debt we owe to those we loved and lost will never die. We will always remember.” During the ceremony, the Lyons were presented with an American flag, a certificate, a commemorative musical CD, and a marble plank engraved with David’s name, echoing the engraving on the tall pillars of the state memorial. “He’s the epitome of what America stands for and why we fight,” David’s father said. “I would go again if they would let me today.” David Lyon was known as David Lissy in high school; he changed his name after he graduated to honor his adoptive parents. At Sandpoint High, his athletic achievements included winning the state shot put title as a junior and breaking a school record set by Norm Gissel that had stood since 1955. His parents flew down for the ceremony, making it a quick trip, because school has just started, and Jeannie Lyon didn’t want to miss classes; she’s missing only a day and a half of school for the trip. Her students, she said, are “very solemn about me being down here right now. They’re pretty worried about me.” Last year, when she returned from David’s memorial, she said, “Those children just greeted me with open arms. They were very protective of their teacher.”