Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chris Tyll for State Senate (Maine)

I learned today from a buddy who I served with in Iraq in 2006-07 that one of our platoon leaders, Chris Tyll, recently launched a bid for a State Senate seat in Maine.

I was thrilled to hear it.

I was at Chris' command at Little Creek (sort of Norfolk, sort of Virginia Beach) and first met him in 2005. I was the N2 (that's the Intel Officer) of the Task Unit that deployed with his platoon to Fallujah in October 2006.

Suffice to say, we got to know each other much more closely then. As the mentor of a group of Iraqi Policemen (IP) who essentially became the Fallujah SWAT Team, Chris trained and operated with his fellow SEALs and the Iraqis, day-in and day-out for several months. Meanwhile, he put a tremendous amount of trust in me, which was unusual because I was an Ensign (he was an O-3) and, more importantly, I was a non-SEAL attached to his unit in a support role. He trusted me enough to let me *hold my own* in town with the Marines and the IPs. This, in turn, let me carry out my job in a completely different, better way than I could have if I had been tethered and chained to the FOB. His guys came out way better for it, I came away with a ton of confidence that I carried with me right into the Army (...if only all the people cracking those 'Navy guy' jokes had any idea!), and more than a few ne'er-do-wells were swept off the battlefield at the same time that the Sunni tribe-inspired "Anbar Awakening" was taking hold across the Euphrates River Valley.

I haven't kept in touch with Chris much since I PCS'd from that command in March 2008, but I know he moved to Portland, bought a pizza place (Pat's Pizza) and is very active in veterans' causes in the Portland area. This may not seem relevant in the bigger context, but I'll also note that he was a Surface Warfare Officer who deployed twice (I believe on the Valley Forge and the Princeton) before going to BUD/S and becoming a SEAL. That experience, plus his USNA and NAPS time, means he can relate to veterans all across the spectrum of experience and Military Occupational Specialties. It probably didn't hurt that he was born in a place called 'Bad Axe.' Seriously.

Chris' leadership had a big impact on my military career, and, by extension, my life. He took a risk by placing me in a somewhat atypical role, and the impact of that decision isn't lost on me. I have no doubt he would make an excellent State Senator for Maine, and wish him the best of luck in the process.

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