Father of soldier accepts prestigious honor

Posted at 6:49 PM, Sep 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-17 19:49:24-04

Under the sound of Taps inside the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Broken Arrow Thursday, Sergeant Kyle Brinlee was remembered as an American hero.

It was a ceremony the soldiers who fought alongside him had to be at.

"I wouldn't miss it," Sergeant Shane Scullawl said. "I'm one of the original ones that are still in, that were on the convoy that actually knew him." 

Brinlee graduated from Pryor High School in 2001. He then joined the OKlahoma Army National Guard that same year.

Scullawl served several years with Brinlee as part of the 120th Engineer Battalion.

He said they trained for improvised explosive devices but unfortunately an IED is what took Brinlee's life in 2004 at the age of 21-years-old, near Al Asad, Iraq.

"Just got ambushed by a roadside bomb," Scullawl said. "His vehicle was in the middle of the convoy. Just by chance that is when they set it off. Just a bad day."

Not only a bad day, but a tragedy taking away one family's son.

"At this time we would like to honor Kyle's family for their sacrifice," Captain Joe Pace said during the ceremony held Thursday afternoon.

Fighting back tears 11 years after his son passed, Robert Showler accepted the Oklahoma Gold Star medal for his son.

"He was a hero," Showler told the crowd. "I've got a little grand daughter here named after him. There have been other people who named their kids after him."

Now he plans to share the award with the classroom he teaches in Broken Arrow and also his grandchildren.

"There weren't even born when we lost Kyle," Showler said. "But they know, they know Kyle. They all wanted to get out of school and come today. I think that is important."

Oklahoma began awarding the Gold Star Medal in 2012. It honors a member of the military who died performing a deed of personal bravery or self-sacrifice during combat after September 11, 2001.

Brinlee's death marked the first combat-related death for the Oklahoma Army National Guard since the Korean War.