COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Tyler Jarrell never got the chance to serve in the military, but his service to others is now inspiring people across the country.
A complete stranger has been sharing Jarrell’s story as part of a traveling exhibit honoring fallen soldiers.
Jarrell is the future Marine killed when the Fireball ride broke apart at the Ohio State Fair.
Sean Flaharty met Jarrell in the McDonald’s drive thru, where Jarrell worked before he died, and said he never forgot his face. Now, he’s on a mission to ensure no one forgets his sacrifice.
“I had one very, very brief interaction with him,” said Flaharty.
The second time he saw him, was his picture on TV, after the tragedy at the midway.
“When I heard his story and I saw that face on WCMH for the first time I just couldn’t believe it,” he said.
As fate would have it, it wasn’t the last time he and Jarrell would be connected, this time through a special coin bearing Jarrell’s name.
“It was a Columbus Police Officer… just handed it to me in Circleville,” he said.
This coin now travels with Flaharty across the country as part of the Eyes of Freedom: Lima Company Memorial.
The exhibit honors the 23 soldiers with the Ohio Lima Company killed in Iraq and all who answer the call to service; people like Jarrell who was signed up for Marine boot camp after graduation.
“He was one of those rare individuals that had that soul and was willing to step up to the plate and he did,” said Flaharty.
Jarrell’s mother, Amber Duffield, and Flaharty met for the first time at the exhibit in the Ohio Statehouse rotunda.
“It’s overwhelming, it’s overwhelming,” said Duffield.
Duffield said she sees so much of her son in the paintings in the exhibit.
“I can see Tyler and it’s in the eyes because they all have one calling. All have one mission,” said Duffield.
A mission to serve others.
“Tyler would have still taken that seat. He was planning to take that seat with his service and he just served a little sooner then I wanted,” said Duffield.
To learn more about the Eyes of Freedom: Lima Company Memorial visit: https://www.limacompanymemorial.org/ It is at the Ohio Statehouse through Sunday, May 27th.