NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Captain Josh Byers’ mom says her son started looking at military schools when he was in seventh grade.
Serving this country was a passion of his from early on, and dying for this country was the ultimate honor.
Byers’ desire to serve and his dying words are about the only comfort his family has to this day over a decade later.
His life ended with three words after an IED tore apart his vehicle in Iraq. Moments from his last breath, he turned to his fellow soldiers.
“He looked at him and said, “Keep moving forward!” He said the vehicle was disabled, but it did move a few yards,” explained father Lloyd Byers.
Those three words and few years saved two soldiers from a secondary blast, and to this day, provided strength for his mom and dad.
It was heroic final act that surprised no one.
“Him saying ‘keep moving forward’ as his last words, that’s just so Josh,” his mother Mary Byers told News 2.
“Inside his West Point ring, he has engraved, ‘To lead is to serve,’ and I think that sums it up for Josh,” his father said.
It’s been nearly 14 years, and the Byers, like so many families this Memorial Day, still cope with the loss daily.
“I wasn’t there, and I’m still kind of looking for him to come home. But you know that he’s not, deep down, but he’s always here in our hearts,” Lloyd Byers said.
“You know it’s always there, but you learn to live with it. Your life has a new normal … It changes everything for you,” Mary Byers added.
Their son died on what was once a highlighted day for their family-July 23.
“It’s also my birthday,” said Byers’ mother. “Crazy because it’s hard to celebrate, which is hard, but Lloyd and my boys always seem to come up with something to take my mind off of it.”
“I just remind her how old she is,” her husband said with a laugh.
The Byers lean on each other, embrace their faith, and continue to live their lives by Josh’s final three words: Keep moving forward.
“He was our best friend. I mean, he was 6-foot-3 and you would look up to him and he would lift you up hug ya,” said Lloyd Byers.
“I think the pain is halved, carried together. The good thing that I think God does for us is that we usually don’t have bad days at the same time,” he added.
Lloyd Byers has written a book about his son’s life for other families to take comfort in reading. Fittingly, it’s titled “Keep Moving Forward.”
Mary Byers also served as a leader of the American Gold Star Mothers organization and was honored with laying the one millionth wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery on her son’s grave.