GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Pat Lyons loved his cherry red Pontiac GTO.

And hunting rabbits with his brother, Mike.

And using his dad’s tractor on the family dairy farm near Denmark.

Pat was just a little shaver when he started driving the tractor.

Farm life was in his blood.

No matter what Pat was asked to do, he would do it so it was done right. Always.

He was a real dependable kid.

Even when he was on leave from the Army, Pat liked working on the farm.

When he was home for Christmas, he helped with the chores.

He arrived at 2 a.m., and the next morning he got up at 5 and rolled his brothers and sisters out.

Pat had four brothers and three sisters.

Mike was closest to Pat by a year and a half.

They always talked the same language.

When they were smaller, every Sunday they would go down to the river and go fishing.

Pat had ideas for his future. He was going to go to college on the GI plan when he got back.

He always said he was coming back.

Mike took Pat’s death the hardest of the Lyons children.

Pat was killed in Vietnam.

He was 19.

He died on a Feb. 28 while on a search-and-destroy mission near the Cambodian border during Operation Junction City.

When unit was ambushed by a large Viet Cong force, Pat exposed himself to fire and advanced on enemy emplacements, calling to his buddies to fight harder as he moved forward.

Pat died in this battle.

He was following the motto of his division, Big Red 1: “No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great. Duty first.”

For his bravery in action, Pat was posthumously honored with the Bronze Star.

I did not know Pat Lyons.

Fresh out of college, I wrote about him as the first feature article I wrote for the Green Bay Press-Gazette under special circumstances.

Because of my qualifications as a paid undergraduate teaching assistant my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I was hired as an editor, skipping the step of being a reporter first.

Editors work in the office, managing what reporters write and placing the articles on pages in the newspaper.

From their chairs, editors see what happens in the world through the eyes of others but don’t go out.

However, at the time at the Press-Gazette, all the editors were required once a month to get out and write a story so they would experience what reporters go through in fact-finding.

The idea was to create empathy for the reporter’s process, so the editing isn’t just about a bunch of words but have meaning behind them.

That was one of the ways the Press-Gazette was a great daily newspaper at the time.

I was at the paper less than a month when managing editor Larry Belonger gave me the assignment, which became proof of why I was hired.

A city boy, I would go to a farm and interview the parents of a soldier who was killed just over four months earlier.

Driving was photographer Ken Behrendt, a kind and caring soul.

In the back of my mind were my parents and their thoughts of two of my brothers – one career Army and one career Air Force – serving in Vietnam.

Mr. and Mrs. Francis Lyons opened their home and their hearts to Ken and me.

Courage through grief is what they displayed to people they didn’t know to share with thousands of readers on the front page of a respected newspaper.

A few months after I wrote about Pat Lyons, I was drafted but soon medically disqualified.

But for significant allergies, I believe I would have been Pat Lyons or one of my dear high school classmates – killed in Vietnam and robbed of the experiences of living in years ahead.

On Memorial Day, I think of Pat Lyons and Jim Tycz and all the others with grieving loved ones back home.

“Some days you can take it, and some you can’t,” Pat’s mother said at the end of the article. “I just know he isn’t coming back. I kept every letter he wrote – I don’t know why,” she said with a bowed head.