Born on 9/11, Xenia man now in Air Force boot camp

Dad collecting birthday cards to honor son

Brooks Lyle was born at Miami Valley Hospital less than two hours after the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. He was 5½ weeks premature and there were complications.

His father Mark Lyle remembers watching the news unfold on a TV in the hospital waiting room. Then an Air Force reservist, he was called to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that day. His thoughts were preoccupied with his wife and preemie son.

“I was more worried about my son at that point in time,” he said. “He was so small. Brooks was under 5 pounds.”

Brooks Lyle, now more than 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, will mark his 20th birthday at Air Force basic training — taking an oath to help protect a nation changed forever the day he was born.

“No one’s prouder of him than his mom and I, and his grandparents and family,” his father Mark Lyle said.

Brooks Lyle couldn’t be interviewed for this story because he is at basic training. His parents have asked friends, family and members of their community to submit birthday cards to let the airman know he is loved and supported.

Mark Lyle is having the cards sent to his house in Xenia. He plans on hand-delivering the cards when his son graduates in mid-September before he moves on to training to become a medical technician.

“Not only did he join the service, he joined a profession in the service where he can assist people and help people,” Mark said.

Brooks Lyle grew up in a proud military household. His father served 30 years in combined active duty and reserve roles. Since shortly after Brooks Lyle was born, Mark Lyle helped run the Air Force Honor Guard out of WPAFB.

This meant performing military honors at the funerals of veterans and fallen airmen — including some from the wars after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Brooks Lyle would see his father leave in the morning dressed in the uniform and ask questions when his father got back.

“It was the most honorable thing that I had ever done,” Mark Lyle told his son about serving in the honor guard. “The family members and loved ones were so appreciative.”

“I don’t know if he really wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps, but I like to believe that, and he would probably tell you that,” Mark Lyle said. “But I think he wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself. And he wanted to serve his country.”

Mark Lyle said his son grew up in a nation that learned on the day he was born that we are vulnerable, but that we are also strong. “When we get down to it, we usually come together to solve a major problem like we are dealing with now, and we did that with 9/11,” he said.

Mark Lyle said he hopes his children and future generations never forget the lives lost on 9/11 and in the wars that followed — the sacrifice of civilians, first responders and servicemembers.

“I don’t want people to be forgotten,” he said.

Even though it’s his son’s birthday, Mark Lyle said he tries to make some time every year on Patriot’s Day to attend an event or visit a memorial and honor those heroes.

Brooks Lyle saw that, too. Children learn from watching their parents.

On his first birthday, his mother Deb Lyle talked to the Dayton Daily News about how, “as the tragedy in the nation unfolded, my family was gathered near me praying for the best,” she said.

“He has that chance,” she said, “a chance to grow up. A chance denied to so many people who perished that day. Our prayers are with the families of those who died.”

Now grown up, that baby born on a day of tragedy and uncertainty is using that chance to serve his country.

“We always say there was one good thing that came out of that particular day, and that’s him,” his father said.

Mark Lyle will hand-deliver birthday cards to his son Brooks Lyle when he graduates from basic training in mid-September. To send a card, address it to:

Birthday card for Brooks Lyle

1830 Trebein Road

Xenia, OH 45385

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