Memorial Day hits a bit harder this year. On May 5, we lost a great American warrior, Kyle Milliken.
Kyle was a member of one of the toughest groups in the world, the Navy Seals, with whom he served our country for 15 years. According to the Boston Herald, Miliken was killed in a firefight against Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab forces in Somalia during a nighttime raid a few weeks ago.
I first met Kyle in 1996 when we became teammates on the cross country team my freshman year at Cheverus High in Portland, Maine. He quickly became one of my closest friends on the team, and being two years older than I was, he became someone I looked up to while learning to navigate through my new surroundings.
Kyle was a teammate in every sense of the word. He was always there for anything you needed, whether it was giving you a ride to a meet, helping you through a tough time, or battling your rivals on the track. His college coach at the University of Connecticut called him a "glue guy," and it's a reference New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady even called out in his dedication to Kyle.
On the track during high school, he became a guy we counted on for our 4x400m relay team, especially in 1998. This was the team that set the state record in the event, and at the state meet that spring, it was the team that held our state title hopes as our program was trying to win its sixth consecutive state title.
We had a one-point lead heading into the final event and had to beat rival Edward Little High, out of Auburn, Maine, to win the event to secure the team title. And for three of us on the team, it was the last race we'd ever run together in a Cheverus uniform.
Kyle's anchor leg that day really demonstrated the kind of teammate and warrior he was. He received the baton with the largest deficit the team had experienced all season. But it didn't matter... when the stakes were highest, he came through. He wasn't going to let his teammates down.
There's no way they were ending that meet and their careers without a victory.
From the bottom of my heart, Kyle, thanks for all the memories, thank you for protecting our country, and thank you for being the greatest teammate. We are thinking about you and your family today along with the many others who have lost their lives while serving.