Written by Tom Segel
June 7, 2008
By Tom Segel
Harlingen, Texas June 7, 2008: It started with a short note from a Marine friend asking me for a bit of help. The lady he was championing is Sharon Hyland-Kyser. The name didn’t trigger any pings in my memory bank, so I went to my all-knowing writing assistant…Google. According to that trusted search engine, the name Sharon Hyland-Kyser was contained in more than 3,500 Internet entries. She is the lady who welcomes home heroes.
Her story has been told with far better words than I can place in print. Briefly, Sharon was asking herself a searching question after the great national tragedy of 9-11. She was asking what she could do to help keep her country strong and safe. This thought remained in her mind as she completed college and entered the business world. As the business agent for a large construction company, Sharon was well on her way to success in a very lucrative position.
Being the wife of a paratrooper in the 173rd Airborne Brigade and coming from a family where father, grandfather and great grandfather were all Marines, Sharon was well aware of how poorly some of our young warriors have been treated by their own countrymen.
It was in the Philadelphia Airport that she noticed some of the soldiers returning home were walking past almost anonymous. No greetings, no cheers, no welcoming reception. This, she decided was wrong, and a situation that had to be corrected.
A giant move in that direction took place last July when Sharon Hyland-Kyser quit her big six-figure a year job, rolled up her sleeves, and started an organization called “A Hero’s Welcome”. It was all based on her belief that nobody wearing the uniform of the United States of America should return from war without a strong welcome home.
She started out small, turning out groups of people with signs and flags to greet any service man or woman they learned was returning home. “A Hero’s Welcome” caught fire. Its efforts started being coordinated with other patriotic organizations such as Gathering of Eagles, Warriors Watch and the Patriot Guard Riders. People started contacting Sharon about helping out in other areas of the country. There were stories in local newspapers and on home-town television. Glenn Beck interviewed her on his national television show. In less than one year, “A Hero’s Welcome” grew to more than 30 chapters across the United States. The result has been…more than 1,500 American Heroes have been welcomed home from combat and the number gets larger as the pages of our calendar turn.
But, the story doesn’t end here. At this hour Sharon’s paratrooper husband finds himself and his fellow soldiers in combat. The 173rd Airborne Brigade has been committed to the conflict in Afghanistan. Sharon could have remained a Blue Star Wife, supported her husband and continued her welcoming home efforts. But, none of this was enough. This past weekend, she raised her hand and took the oath as a United States Marine.
She is no longer just the founder of “A Hero’s Welcome”… she is Candidate Hyland-Kyser, Sharon 2671, Officer Candidate School, C Company, 1 Platoon, 2189 Elrod Ave., Quantico, VA 22134-5033. Why don’t you drop her a note and give this lady a hero’s welcome.