Tyra Anderson can’t help but smile as she describes her father, Tim Anderson.
“He had this personality that was bigger than life,” Tyra said. “He would talk to everyone. My mom will tell you I get my outgoing side from him.”
Growing up as a military child, Tyra’s friendly personality made all the moving around a little easier. Tim joined the service when he was 18 and worked his way up through the ranks to become a captain in the Army. During the span of his career, Tyra and her three siblings had lived in Virginia, Germany, and Kentucky. Shortly after Tyra started high school, Tim received orders in Texas. Rather than uprooting the family again, the Andersons decided to stay in Kentucky while he made trips back and forth.
“When I was younger, I had this sense of, well this isn’t fair, why does this person get to have their parents here, but mine isn’t?” Tyra said. “I was jealous.”
Tim served in the Gulf War before Tyra was born and then again in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009.
“I think the hardest part of being a military child is when your mother or father has to go war,” Tyra said. “Every day is just this fear of, are they going to die today? Is this going to be the day?”
In 2010, a year into his deployment to Afghanistan, Tim started having medical issues. After being medevacked to Germany, doctors decided he needed to be taken to Walter Reed Hospital for further evaluation.
“For a while we thought, OK, he’s sick but he’ll get better,” Tyra said. “But he didn’t.”
Doctors were unable to determine the exact cause of his illness, only that it was likely a result of exposure to toxic chemicals while in Afghanistan. He was released from Walter Reed to join his family back in Kentucky.
On April 16, 2011, Tim succumbed to his illness. Tyra remembered being at her junior prom when her mother came to pick her up.
“She didn’t have to tell me,” Tyra said. “I knew he was gone.”
It was an extremely difficult time for Tyra and her family.
“To know he survived the explosions and the bullets, and then when we got him back, he passed away, that was definitely tough,” Tyra said.
His obituary, in part, reads:
Captain Timothy S. Anderson ended his journey actively and proudly serving his country for twenty years in the United States Army. During his service, Captain Anderson strived for excellence leading with strength, wisdom, humility and integrity. As he served, he received various certifications, accommodations and recognitions; some of which include Combat Medical Badge, Non Article 5 NATO Medal for Service with NATO in relation to ISAF Operation during the period, the Army Commendation Medal, The Bronze Star Medal and many others.
In the years after his death, Tyra remembers the difficultly of celebrating life’s big moments without her father, but she’s never looked at his time in the service with resentment. Instead, she takes pride in being the daughter of a soldier who continues her father’s legacy of service through her support of USA Cares.
“I would tell (military children) they have a superpower,” Tyra said. “I know that sounds weird, but there’s just so many things about me at 28, as an adult, that I know stem from my parent being in the military. It takes a special kind of family to surround and support someone serving.”