Editor’s Note: This story first published on June 21, 2015, noting the anniversary of the death of Tim Hines on June 19, 2005.
Ten years after his death, Tim Hines’ family is still sending him messages.
On Father’s Day 2005, Army Pfc. Tim Hines was severely wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee while serving in Baghdad. His right leg was amputated in a Baghdad hospital before he was transported to Walter Reed Medical Hospital in Washington, D.C. Hines, 21, died three weeks later, leaving behind a pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter.
Since his death, friends and family — including his daughter Lily, 12, and son Noah, who will soon turn 10 — write messages to their fallen hero, tie them onto balloons and release them from his grave at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.
While Hines was not a native son of Fairfield — he was raised by his mom, Diana, in the Northgate area — he went to Cincinnati Christian Schools in Fairfield and Fairfield Twp. and married his high school sweetheart from Fairfield.
Katy Hines-Guggenbiller, now 32, said it took a long time to not be numb from the pain of Tim’s death just as they were just starting their lives together. The early years of grief for her were simply survival mode, she said
“In the back of my mind I really knew that I never really dealt with what happened but I didn’t really realized the impact that it was having on other people around me,” said Katy, who is re-married to Fairfield firefighter Joe Guggenbiller and now has four children. “It wasn’t I didn’t grieve, that first year I did, I just don’t think I fully went through the process.”
Despite being a decade removed from losing her son, the emotions are still “so raw” for Diana Hines.
“I’ve lost my mother in September, I’ve lost my brother (in 2000), and losing Tim is over 10 times worse,” said Diana Hines, who has a special tribute area in her living room to her son. “It just doesn’t get any easier. Not at all, and he’ll always be in my heart and in my thoughts.”
In death, Tim Hines has helped countless people through memorial scholarships and donations made to organizations that support the military, most notably Impact a Hero and the Yellow Ribbon Center.
Hines was assigned to the 64th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas. He died from complications from his internal injuries. Katy and family members were by his side.
John Prazynski was “probably more distraught” at Hines’ loss than his own son, Marine Lance Cpl. Taylor Prazynski, who died just more than nine weeks before Hines, “because there was no hope for Taylor.” Taylor Prazynski was killed on May 9, 2005, in Karmah, Iraq in an explosion.
“Once he was hit, he was gone, and I just thought there was hope for Tim,” said Prazynski, who met the Hines family after Tim was injured. “I thought … he would live and he would survive his injuries and that he would be with his family and he would be with his family.”
He remembers calling the family soon after hearing the news of Hines’ death.
“I really don’t remember who I spoke to, but I just tried to convey to them that they’re not alone, that when we experienced the same thing they were experiencing,” Prazynski said. “We felt so alone, and we wanted them to know that they were not alone, that we were here for you and your family.”
Courtney Combs was serving as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives in 2005.
“These young, the cream of the crop had given their lives and would never be able to fulfill their capacity,” said Combs. “This community mourned, and just felt a tremendous loss here again as these young men were our best and brightest. It was hitting home, literally.”
While her mother said Lily “actually remembered a lot when she was little” and isn’t certain what she remembers of him 10 years later, she will tell Noah and her half-siblings — Emma, 6, and Aiden, 2 — stories and “tid bits” she either recalls or has heard from others.
Noah has some of his dad’s old joke books, and following in his dad’s footsteps has developed into a jokester, Katy said.
“He was just a funny, funny person who was just full of life,” she said.
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