For 1st. Lt. Daniel Hyde. USMA, West Point, NY. 8•Aug.•10

Glenda Hyde of Modesto, CA holds a graduation photograph of her son, then a 2nd. Lt. Daniel Hyde after his graduation from West Point in 2007. The Hyde family of Modesto, CA were at West Point on Sunday, August 8, 2010 for the Hyde Challenge presentations to the Class of 2014, which was renamed in honor of their son, 1st. Lt. Daniel Hyde, a 2007 West Point graduate who was killed in Iraq in March of 2009. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

In my four years now of covering the United States Military Academy at West Point, I never knew cadet Daniel Hyde. He was a senior when I started at this newspaper, and his graduation was the first I’d covered. This past weekend I got to meet his parents and sister from Modesto, California. Finally. Brian, Glenda and their daughter, Andrea were here at West Point for a very special presentation ceremony this past Sunday. You see we’ve sort of “known each other” kind of informally the last three years or so via email. A photograph of mine (above held by Glenda and the original below) that I’d made of their son Lt. Daniel Hyde three years ago, also here at West Point is what makes this one of the most important and unique assignments I’d ever been a part of since working at this newspaper, and quite possibly in my career. The story of our connection begins at Army graduation three years ago, where after photographing the ceremony, which included then Vice-President Dick Cheney delivering the commencement address, the traditional “hat toss” (at right) and immediately after images of cadets hugging, celebrating, and in the case of Daniel Hyde, a quick frame while he knelt in prayer.

Within a few days after graduation, I received a very nice request from Glenda Hyde, as she’d clearly identified her son in the photograph on our website’s photo gallery. (Thank goodness for internet serches nowadays I remembered thinking). As things are quite hectic after the hat toss, I hadn’t spoken to Daniel to ask his name, hometown, etc. Now a few years later, I don’t actually even remember making the above image. Another one of those “instinct” or “auto-pilot” images I guess you could say.Then last Spring the heartbreaking and shocking news was also delivered here to my email in-box, when I’d received a message from Lt. Hyde’s best man that he’d been killed in Iraq. That email stopped me cold and I included my thoughts at the time, as the West Point beat reporter and I were working on a special project on the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq. You can view that post HERE and our initial stories on these links:
West Point graduate killed in Iraq West Point cadets honor fallen classmate and Soldiers in Iraq hold memorial for West Point grad.

Andrea Hyde kisses the casket of her brother, 1Lt. Danile Hyde, as her parents Brian and Glenda watch in Modesto, California in this undated photograph. 1Lt. Hyde was serving as a platoon leader assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team in the 25th Infantry Division when he was killed by an RPG in Samara, Iraq on March 7, 2009. (Photographer unknown.)

Back to present day: About two weeks ago I received another email concerning Lt. Hyde, this time from his godmother informing me that the family would be traveling to West Point for a presentation to new cadets completing field training. West Point had named part of their summer training course, “The Hyde Challenge” after 1LT Hyde. I knew this would be an emotional time for me, whether I’d show it or not. Fortunately my editor allowed me to cover the presentation ceremony on Sunday with the new class of 2014 cadets preparing to leave the field after their first summer training. Here’s the story that our paper published on the “Hyde Challenge” and was reprinted in the Hyde’s hometown paper, the Modesto Bee in Modesto, California.

Brian Hyde admires a ceremonial guidon streamer, coin and medallion presented to he and his wife Glenda (left) during a presentation ceremony marking the end of Cadet Basic Training at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Sunday, August 8, 2010. The Hyde’s of Modesto, CA were at West Point for the Hyde Challenge presentations to the Class of 2014, which was renamed in honor of their son, 1st. Lt. Daniel Hyde, a 2007 West Point graduate who was killed in Iraq in March of 2009. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

*As I told Brian Hyde while we walked quietly together after the family gave a few brief interviews to the media, “I am honored and humbled to meet your family. This is more than just the job for me – I wanted to be here…”

Semper fi. ~cg.

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