|Sumner soldier who gave his life remembered|
|Tuesday, July 10, 2012|
Memorials are fashioned to provide a testimonial to the memory of what someone has accomplished. There is a bridge over Highway 174 in Sumner County that has a sign, a memorial to honor the life of Tyler R. Overstreet.
Overstret gave his life for his country on October 23, 2006. He was in Fallujah, Iraq, serving in the 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division stationed in Nashville, when an improvised explosive device detonated under the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle in which he was riding. Lance Cpl. Richard Buerstetta, from Franklin also died in the Humvee explosion.
You might drive across the Tyler R. Overstreet Bridge someday, but that memorial was not enough for Tyler’s stepfather, Paul Martens of Cottontown.
“I wanted to do a bike so no one will ever forget what he did.” Mertens was referring to having a motorcycle constructed, displaying graphics that illustrated Overstreet’s life and military experience. “I started looking on the Internet to find someone who did airbrushing on bikes.”
After searching for months, Mertens located D.L. Merriam of www.yankeedoodleairbrushing.com in Murfreesboro, Tenn. “I saw his work and I was truly amazed.” After giving the bike to Merriam, Mertens had a two-week wait for it to be completed. Merriam said that Mertens gave him some direction, but allowed him to paint the way he wanted.
“I was more than proud to paint it (the bike) for him,” conveyed Merriam. “As an artist, he allowed me to do to my thing and that helps me do my best work.” Merriam only charged for supplies. ColorTyme in Gallatin, Mertens employer, was also touched by the concept of creating a motorcycle memorial to Tyler. They paid for the cost of painting the bike.
Tyler’s mother, Jana Mertens, was in total support of the theme bike honoring her son. She shared memories about her son.
“He was an all around good young man,” she related. “I could be so mad at him one minute and he’d have me laughing the next. He would just light-up a room when he came in.” She said that she knew she had done a lot of good work when Tyler got through high school and graduated from Gallatin.
Tyler died just three months after his son was born. He never was able to see his son, just in photos. “He was ecstatic when his son was born and he saw photos posted on MySpace,” Tyler’s mom said. “When Aston was born, Tyler was giving out cigars to all his buddies in the unit.”
Paul Mertans recently rode the bike in a parade on Memorial Day in Gallatin. “A lot of people want to see the bike. I want to ride it in Washington D.C. some day.”
By Phil Stauder