A Soldier’s Tribute

On a cool Afghanistan morning on December 27th, 2013, Air Force Captain Dana Lyon embraced her husband

Dave—also an Air Force Captain. He jumped into a vehicle driven by some Czech friends, and left Camp Phoenix, Kabul behind him. A few moments later, the ground at Camp Phoenix shook. Dave’s vehicle had been struck by a VBIED—a vehicle-based improved explosive device (a car packed with explosives).

Dave and Dana had hoped that they would return home from Afghanistan together, but not this way. They hoped to start a family. Instead, Dana slept on the floor of a C-130 aircraft alongside the flag-draped coffin of her husband. In her tremendous grief, Dana still posted a note on Facebook: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be praised.

How could this twenty-something widow express such peace amidst utter grief?

It might help to learn a little about Dave in order to better understand Dana. I met Dave several months before while visiting several of my soldiers in the northern part of Afghanistan. “I am really glad that you are here,” he started, “because I am new to the Christian faith and there aren’t any chaplains or services up here for me.”

Dave and I spent the rest of the evening talking. He placed his trust and life in Jesus’ hands several years before and loved growing in that relationship. As he excitedly told me about his first love—his Savior—he also told me of his love for his best friend, Dana. The one discordant note in our conversation came when he explained that she was also deployed, and that he would be coming home before her.

After I left, Dave went to work—pulling every string he could in order to not leave Afghanistan without his wife. His orders were eventually extended and he was moved closer to Dana. Dave’s superiors granted him the additional privilege of spending Christmas with his wife. That is what brought him to Camp Phoenix. On Christmas Day, the two enjoyed a meal together. Dave’s chopper was cancelled the next day due to thick cloud cover. Then, the fateful day.

How could Dana, after enjoying something so precious only to have it taken away, still see fit to praise God?

Dana Lyon shared the hope of her husband, Dave, in Jesus Christ. She would often call Dave her best friend and protector, but she found her greatest comfort in the Friend of Sinners, the Protector of His People. Even as she grieved the loss of Dave’s life to death, she drew comfort from the Savior who purchased her life—and Dave’s—with his death.

We are told in the Bible that “God shows His own love or us in this—while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Dave Lyon’s love was shown in his willingness to live and even die for his bride, but his sacrifice would never secure her once and for all. In the wake of her husband’s death, Dana renewed her trust in the Bridegroom whose love would always keep her—and Dave—safe.

Today, Dave enjoys life in the presence of the Savior he had come to cherish and Dana finds her hope that the same Savior who took Dave guides her as well. That Savior guided a story of marital love that, while brief, was remarkable. Before He took Dave to his true home, He gave this precious couple their final days together—in Afghanistan!

Their story was not marked by Dave’s sacrifice in the end, but rather in Christ’s sacrifice, which swallowed up Dave’s death in victory and Dana’s life in hope.

Rest in peace, Dave. The Lord give you peace, Dana. And may He be glorified!

Editors Note: The picture with this article was taken at Dave and Dana’s last meal together.