Army Sgt. Tyler Ray Curtis, 25, of Jay, Maine; assigned the Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment,2nd Brigade Combat Team. Tyler died on November 22, while at home after serving this great country overseas.
Tyler was born in Farmington, a son of Gary M. and Joyce A. (Doiron) Curtis. He recieved his education in Jay schools where he was a respected member of the Jay Tigers Football Team. He graduated in 2001 and followed his lifelong ambition of joining the United States Army. He was honorably discharged in 2006, and continued his education at Wyotech trade school in Blairsville, Penn., graduating in August of 2007, as a diesel mechanic. He currently was employed at Kris-Way Trucking in Auburn.
He was an outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing and spent many happy times at the Curtis Camp in East Dixfield. He was a humorous, mischievous, outgoing, well-liked person and enjoyed being the center of attention. He enjoyed spending quality time with children and was a mentor to his nieces and nephews.
Chris Whytock, a long time friend of the Curtis family, wrote the following summary —
Tyler’s mom Joyce selected the special stone from an area that Tyler loved to spend his free time. Joyce said she knew right where she needed to look for the stone and when she arrived at “Camp Curtis” it did not take long to find it. The stone resembles a heart and that made it all the more special for Joyce. Tyler’s favorite place on earth was Camp Curtis and after serving his tours he would come home and find peace in the spot he knew would provide it.
Joyce said Tyler had many passions but most of them focused around his family. His nieces and nephews always held a special place in his heart. He would often play jokes and always had something up his sleeve to make them laugh. He also found comfort in animals. Joyce remembered all the times he would be out of the house and would always have her dog by his side. Something about the dog seemed to calm him and she knew they shared a special bond.
One of his favorite sports was football. He played with an intensity that was unmatched by others. The brotherhood that existed within the team along with his drive to be on top of his game brought him back to the field time and time again. He also found an interest in being a mechanic and was skilled enough to be a diesel mechanic while in the army. He had a tremendous ability in working with his hands and was a valuable asset within his unit.
Although a great kid, brother and friend, Joyce laughed when she mentioned how Tyler was always up to something mischievous. She remembered a time when he was playing basketball in the small town that he grew up. While waiting for his game to start he and a friend made their way out to the lobby and in a moment of curiosity pulled the fire alarm. When the fire department showed up he was no where to be found which made him more guilty then he realized.
As Joyce started to tell the above story I began to laugh. I remember that day well. I was there playing ball with the rest of the kids. Part of my interest in The Summit Project was to bring Tyler and his story into TSP. I grew up with Tyler and was best friends with his brother Ryan. A good part of my childhood life was spent with Tyler’s family. There were times where I thought I might as well be the fifth Curtis kid. Brett, Gretchen, Ryan and Tyler….why not one more?
I remember Tyler as a funny kid. As a kid who, like Joyce said, was always up to something. If he wasn’t chasing Ryan and I around the house we were all playing in the woods. Whether playing in the stream that ran near the house or playing “army” all dressed in camouflage and armed with our toy guns, we were kids just having fun. Just like every other kid our age. What I now know about Tyler is that he never outgrew that army phase. Joyce told me he always wanted to serve his country. She remembered him saying he was going to join the Army and Joyce would always tell him otherwise. She was scared for her son and rightfully so. She remembered when Tyler was getting closer to graduation and the recruiters would come to the house. Joyce would refuse to talk with them and even deny access into her home. Tyler knew what he wanted to do and he made it happen, even if his mother was against it.
Joyce was proud of Tyler. She was proud of his accomplishments and the service he provided to his country. While proud, she also feared for her sons safety and after two tours overseas Tyler came back home and was a changed man. He struggled to fit back in with civilian life and tried hard to beat what he couldn’t hide from. Tragically, Tyler took his own life because he thought he had no other options left. Joyce said they tried for a few years to get him help but nothing seemed to work.
Tyler took his life on Thanksgiving morning, as a result of post-traumatic stress syndrome, having served his country proudly and honorably, surviving two tours of duty in Iraq.