Take a look at this beautiful young man, Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson and his dog Hawkeye. Tumilson, 35, became a SEAL in 2002. He died in the August helicopter crash in Afghanistan, brought down by a Taliban rocket-propelled-grenade. Thirty-eight Americans were aboard, including some from SEAL Team 6. All aboard died. The video is of the services celebrating the life of Tumilson at the Rockford Senior High auditorium, Rockford, Iowa. Fifteen-hundred attended the services, including his dog Hawkeye, who laid by the casket throughout.
Probably the biggest event of his high school years was when a Navy recruiter visited his junior year. His path to the best of the best began there.
“I remember when he was recruited,” Biggs said. “He was so proud. It was exactly what he wanted to do.”
After he made SEAL, townsfolk recall the lean, sinewy man running the streets of town – and nearby towns – for hours on end each day.
“He was always running,” said Dennis Ginther, 68, a Rockford native who grew up with Tumilson’s father. “He would say hello, but he was always staying in shape.”
Biggs remembered seeing Tumilson hustling along the shoulder of Iowa Highway 14 between Rockford and Charles City, which is about 15 miles east of Rockford.
Biggs rolled down his window and hollered at his young friend. Tumilson plucked his headphones out of his ears, but kept running in stride. Briggs slowed down his truck. They chatted for a bit.
“He wasn’t breathless,” Briggs said. “He was just talking like he was sitting down at rest. It was hotter than heck that day, and he’s just chugging along.”
Briggs offered him a ride.
“Heck, no,” Briggs recalled Tumilson saying. “I’ve got another 30 miles to go.”
Few in Rockford knew what Tumilson did as a SEAL. The unit works top-secret missions, and Tumilson told few tales other than from training. In one section of the training, Tumilson and fellow SEAL recruits were taken airborne, blindfolded and flown in circles until completely disoriented. The plane flew the recruits off shore until they were out of sight of land. They were ordered to jump out of the plane and find their way back to base.
Hawkeye grieves for his friend, Navy SEAL, Petty Officer Jon Tumilson