Lt. Col. Gary Barney of the New York Army National...

Lt. Col. Gary Barney of the New York Army National Guard presents a medal awarded posthumously to the parents of John "Jack" Dyer Jr., an Army veteran killed in a December motorcycle crash. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

In a ceremony of remembrance on Thursday, the New York National Guard paid a special visit to the Dyer family’s East Moriches home on behalf of their late son, decorated Army paratrooper John “Jack” Dyer Jr., who died in a motorcycle crash on his 26th birthday last December.

Capt. Alex Hammond, state casualty affair officer for the New York Army National Guard, and Lt. Col. Gary Barney, 2-101 cavalry squadron commander, honored Dyer posthumously with two medals he had earned in the Army.

The emotional ceremony, attended by family and friends, began with a rendition of “God Bless America,” followed by the medal presentations and remarks by Hammond and Barney.

Dyer, who served in Afghanistan and Germany during his four years in the Army, was posthumously awarded a federal Army Commendation Medal and a state Meritorious Service Medal.

John "Jack" Dyer Jr. when he served as an Army...

John "Jack" Dyer Jr. when he served as an Army paratrooper. Credit: Dyer Family

“His record was impeccable and if you just looked at his resume,” Hammond said, “you could tell that this soldier was one of a kind.”

Added Barney: “It takes a special person to go out there and put themselves in a high-risk situation like that and commit to it. We think he was special for doing that, and I think that the help and aid that he gave for his efforts in Germany and Afghanistan really speaks to his character.”

As the two officers presented the medals to the late veteran's parents, John and Elizabeth Dyer, the couple shed tears and spoke of their pride at his accomplishments, despite the pain of his loss last December.

“He was special,” John Dyer said of his son. “He was inquisitive and very polite growing up. He just wanted to do everything and anything.”

From a young age, John Dyer Jr. exhibited a strong sense of independence and curiosity, his parents said, noting that he gave them an opportunity to “see life through his eyes.”

They also shared that their son became inspired to join the Army because of his grandfather on his mother's side, an Irish immigrant, who served in the Korean War.

Just before 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2023, Dyer lost control of his Kawasaki motorcycle on a dark stretch of U.S. 27 in Lake County, Florida. Eight motorists behind Dyer struck him as he lay in the southbound lane, according to a Florida Highway Patrol crash report. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

He had served in the United States Army as a paratrooper with the legendary 82nd Airborne Division. He was honorably discharged in March 2023.

Dyer moved to Florida and was working for a private security company at the time of his death.

He was born in Ulan-Ude, Siberia, and adopted by his parents in 2004. From a young age, he exhibited a strong sense of independence and curiosity, his parents said. 

“I think Jack had a special place in his heart for people who didn’t have a lot because he truly believed that it could be him,” Elizabeth Dyer said.

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