NEWPORT — In the shower. Around the house. During church.

Army Pfc. Tyler M. Springmann loved to sing. Although family members hold different memories and thoughts of the young man, they are “completely unified” about his love of singing.

“And when Tyler sang, he did so quite badly,” said Chaplain Andrew Gibson of the Maine Army National Guard. But through his singing and his commitment to his family and his country, “he also showed of his soul and his heart.”

Gibson’s comments came Friday morning during the military funeral for the 19-year-old from Hartland, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan July 17. More than 100 family and friends gathered at the Nokomis Regional High School gymnasium to watch and listen as final remembrances were shared over Springmann’s flag-draped casket.

Springmann’s family was given several awards on the fallen soldier’s behalf, including a legislative proclamation, and state and federal medals, such as the Purple Heart decoration for being killed in action.

Draped behind the casket at the head of the gym was a large American flag, and flanked on either side were photos of Springmann and flowers. To the side hung a large Nokomis “Warriors” banner.

Maj. Gen. Peter Bayer Jr., representing the secretary of the Army, said he did not know Springmann personally, but “I feel as though I know him because he was a soldier; he was a man of great courage and character.” Springmann volunteered for military service and Springmann knew “he may be asked to lay down his life” for the ideals in the U.S. Constitution, Bayer said.

“In my book, this man is a hero, plain and simple,” Bayer said.

Bayer also read remarks from Capt. John Oliver, Springmann’s commander, who spoke at a service in Afghanistan soon after Springmann’s death. “He was willing to take up ‘point and probe’ to lead patrols looking for IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” Oliver said. Springmann did this “for his fellow soldiers” and he did it with a “cheerful spirit.”

“He always had something good to say and always asked about my wife and son — by name,” Oliver said. “He was more mature than his 19 years.”

Calling Springmann a “scant 19 years old on this Earth,” Gibson said many had the privilege of knowing Springmann’s uplifting personality.

Gibson read three verses from the Bible that Springmann’s wife, Brittney, had selected. One included a reading from the Old Testament, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

Springmann — to put it in military terms — was on a mission, Gibson said, just as the rest of us are.

And Gibson also read a verse from Genesis saying, “May the Lord watch between you and me whenever we are apart.” Both Springmann and his wife had that verse on dog tags they wore, Gibson said.

“Love is more powerful than death, love is more powerful than any kind of physical separation,” he said.

Among the family in attendance were his young wife, of Palmyra; his father, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Springmann, who was also been stationed in Afghanistan; his mother, Tina Stratton, and her husband, Ben Martin, of Hartland; his two brothers, Zachary Martin of Hartland and William Springmann of Brandywine, Md., and sister, Keana Martin.

Gov. Paul LePage and Maine Army National Guard officials presented the family with the Maine state flag and several state awards.

Springmann’s stepfather, Martin, read aloud a poem-style letter written by Martin’s sister-in-law and Tyler Springmann’s aunt Amy. It was intended to be in Springmann’s voice.

“Mom, I love you, but this you know is what I wanted to do. ‘I miss you so much,’ is what I first have to say,” the letter read. “I just wish I had a chance to come home and hug you before this day. Mom, I know you won’t tell me, but I know you cried many tears. I didn’t want to be in this place, but I knew death was something I had to face.

“I know you wrote a letter to me — please send it up here so I can see. I promise to read it in heaven every day; I will keep it in my pocket and never let it get away.”

Billy Black, Brittney Springmann’s father, said he met Springmann when he was “just another high school kid.”

“I discounted him at first,” Black said, but “he soon proved his mettle and earned my trust. He came into our lives and, I think, swept every one of us off our feet. Brittney, myself, my son Hayden — we all loved him to death.”

And, because “music was indeed a very important part of Tyler’s life,” Gibson said, Springmann’s grandmother, Linda Snay, also sang “Amazing Grace.”

“Tyler loved this song with all of his heart,” Snay said. “So I hope it blesses you just as much as it did him.”

At the start of the second verse, Ben Martin rose from his seat and began singing along, and the rest of those in the gym soon stood as well and sang.

Following the funeral, Springmann was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Dexter, beside his grandmother, great-grandmother and three uncles.

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

[email protected]

TYLER’S LAST LETTER

During the funeral Friday for Pfc. Tyler M. Springmann, his stepfather, Ben Martin, read aloud a poem-style letter. It was written by Martin’s sister-in-law and Springmann’s aunt Amy and was intended to be in Springmann’s voice.

Dear Mom,

Mom, I love you, but this you know is what I wanted to do. ‘I miss you so much,’ is what I first have to say. I just wish I had a chance to come home and hug you before this day. Mom, I know you won’t tell me, but I know you cried many tears. I didn’t want to be in this place, but I knew death was something I had to face.

Clenching my gun and holding tight, saying a prayer, preparing to fight. I have to serve my land gladly; it means my life. But this is a soldier’s highest sacrifice; I gave my all to keep my resistance. I fought my battle with vengeance. As this heart grows weak and colder, just let everyone know I was a fallen soldier.

Mom, I know you wrote a letter to me — please send it up here so I can see. I promise to read it in heaven every day; I will keep it in my pocket and never let it get away. When the soldier gave you the news, told you I was gone, I know a part of you slowly died. I heard you cry from dusk ’til dawn. But Mom, I’m OK. I was a soldier. I know you bought a blanket that is navy blue; I want you to know I have the same one up here, too. I know I told you that I would fight ’til I won, but the Lord came and told me my work was done.

So, Mom, I’m sending hugs and kisses to you, Ben, Zach and Keana. I’m watching you fade as I head toward the sky, remembering the teardrops falling from your eyes. Knowing that some soldiers don’t always survive, so as I close this letter, Mom, please don’t cry, for this is not a goodbye. Tell Zach and Keana I love them so much, and tell Ben to get the snowmobile and take me for a ride. And I will be waiting here for you, safe in heaven, with Grammy by my side.

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