Michigan couple begin their biggest mission yet — as new parents
When Rosemarie Young met Tyler Kenny at Michigan Army National Guard training,
the petite medic came to a quick conclusion: “I knew he was the one for me,” Rosemarie, 25, said. “It was matter of him realizing it.”
The couple served in Iraq together and have been back in Michigan since 2010. They’ve since married and their first child, Aedan Maddox, was born April 3. The journey here and abroad has has rough patches. While working with her unit, Rosemarie responded to a soldier’s death in Iraq and said coming home from her first deployment was rough. Tyler lost co-workers and a cousin in the war.
Tyler, 30, now has a job as a benefits adviser to local veterans.
Tyler and Rosemarie both hail from small towns — he from Greenville, Mich., 26 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, and Rosemarie from Swartz Creek, 10 miles southwest of Flint. The couple saw combat while overseas but believe they accomplished good while they were there.
Now they have a new baby to raise.
“Tyler and I are both completely head over heels for our little guy,” said Rosemarie.
Tyler, the 6’2” son of Ronald and Sharee Kenny, signed up with the Marine Corps when he was 19, starting in the reserves with his eye on eventually attending college with the
“I was always playing with G.I. Joes,” he said. “I always said I’d do the Marines because they had the reputation of being the best.”
He went to boot camp in June 2001. On Sept. 11, he had a layover in Minnesota on his way to another training. There on an airport shop’s TV, he watched the Twin Towers fall. “You came out of boot camp feeling you could eat metal and spit bullets,” he said. “I didn’t know what we were in for.”
But Tyler wasn’t called to service right away. That call came one Saturday in 2003 telling him to be ready to be shipped overseas that next Thursday. He was deployed to Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, sent home later that year and returned to college.
Coming home, he said, was like going “Back to the Future.”
“Everybody’s life continues when you leave, ” he said. “We come back to the point where we left. During that time a million and one things have changed — breakups, people getting married. It’s just tough picking up again.”
In 2006, Tyler was called up again, and deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. On that tour, the unit lost five soldiers and others were wounded. He knew most of the Marines killed. Hearing of one particular Marine’s death in January 2007 was “defeating,” he said.
“He was hit by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) late at night and killed instantly.
Up until then we’d been pretty lucky (as a platoon).”
Tyler was home in April 2007. By September, he was done with the Marines. Corps.
But as time passed, he became bored, he said. A friend began talking up the Michigan Army National Guard and its college benefits.
He signed up in March 2008 and graduated from college in April 2008. In the middle of 2009 the Michigan Army National Guard called to say Tyler was to be deployed to Iraq — again.
Rosemarie Young graduated from Swartz Creek High School in
2005 and joined the Michigan Army National Guard a year after high school. “I knew about the college benefits,” she said. “I got bored with civilian life and I wanted to do something different.”
After training to become a medic ended, Rosemarie was sent to Baghdad with the 107th
Engineers, covering them as they cleared road. A person in the unit was killed, and Rosemarie helped recover the body.
“That was my job,” she said. “You go in knowing (someone might die).”
Back home in the summer of 2008, there were times of “crying, nightmares, being jumpy,” Rosemarie said. “I needed to get adjusted to life here, and figure out what to do.”
People expect returning soldiers to step back into everyday life, she said. “It’s ridiculous…. You change, whether you see combat or not. Where in life do you worry about being killed every day? That takes a toll.”
Rosemarie went back to college and also worked. “Then I got antsy and bored so I decided I would do another tour.”
At the National Guard base in Michigan, a friend introduced Rosemarie to Tyler.
They hit it off. Then in December the couple and the company were deployed to Balad north of Baghdad, Iraq. Life in Iraq had changed, said Rosemarie. “For actual combat, it was more low-key. It was pretty nice, actually.”
The couple came back to the U.S. in August 2010. The homecoming was tinged with sadness for the Kenny family because Tyler’s cousin had been shot and killed in
“Before no one in the family had been even hurt,” said Tyler.
Shortly after that the couple announced their engagement and they moved in together. Rosemarie went back to college full-time, studying criminal justice. They bought a house and as the wedding date neared, Rosemarie shared with a friend that she wasn’t feeling well. “She said, ‘You’re pregnant.’”
The day after the wedding, Rosemarie told Tyler he was going to be a father. That
Monday Tyler started his new job at the Oakland County Veterans Services Office. Rosemarie hopes to finish her stint with the National Guard this June.
“We decided one of us has to be home with our boy,” Tyler said.
Rosemarie thinks about her son’s future — and her husband’s. The idea of Tyler ever going overseas again is “scary,” Rosemarie said. “As a woman, I would rather Tyler not go. But as a soldier, I understand.”
Contact Carol Hopkins at 248-745-4645 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @waterfordreport or on Facebook @OPcarolhopkins.