The 4th of July holiday takes on a new meaning for Beloit family members as they gather with the community to remember their son, a fallen soldier. Army Specialist Tyler Kreinz died in Afghanistan. Some of his friends at a memorial service say they lost a part of themselves.
The 21 year-old was killed nearly two weeks ago on June 18. His friends say he was doing exactly what he wanted, being a soldier.
"Ever since we were little kids it was all he ever dreamt and talked about was when he gets old enough and graduated high school, he didn't care much about college, he had all his college money saved up, but he still wanted to go and serve the country," says Tyler Bloyer, cousin of Kreinz.
His family says after the 9-11 terrorist attacks Kreinz was more determined to join the military. He was just 12 years-old. He signed up after graduating from Beloit Memorial High School in 2008. He was serving in Afghanistan as an Army Specialist when the tank he was in rolled over. He and 3 other soldiers died.
Damian Gilbert served with Kreinz in Germany. Damian came all the way from Richmond, Virginia to say goodbye. He describes Tyler as courageous and extremely hardworking.
"I said ‘Serve your time right.' He always did, always excelled, and if you needed somebody it was him," says Gilbert.
Kreinz's friends say he planned to go to college after the military. He even turned down a chance to join the Army Rangers, instead wanting to eventually work as a Conservation Warden.
"He was one of the greatest people I've ever met in my entire life. And he's going to be missed. Never forgotten, always missed," says Lee Goodyear, grew up with Kreinz.
Kreinz's private funeral is Friday at Daley Murphy Wisch & Associates Funeral Home at 2355 Cranston Rd., Beloit. Burial will follow at Floral Lawns Memorial Gardens, 835 Dearborn Ave., South Beloit. The governor ordered flags in Wisconsin to be flown at half staff Friday in Kreinz's honor.