Keep The Fire Burning

Posted by on

Keep the Fire Burning.
This saying has deep meaning for me.  It comes from someone who impacted my life beyond measure.  Ty Barnes was a CCT at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan from 2010-2012. I was a dental tech at the time and was hanging out with some of my Medical Group coworkers one weekend. Some of them had known some dudes from the SOG (Special Operations Group)out there, so some PJs and CCTs were hanging out with us at our dorms.  This was my first time ever meeting any Special Tactics dudes. I couldn’t stand them.  They were loud, arrogant, drunk, and pretty demeaning towards anyone who wasn’t a beret wearer; Ty was polar opposite from his coworkers in that sense.  Ty could be friends with anyone.  He was respectful, humble, humorous, outgoing, and probably the most handsome man to ever walk among mere humans. 
Ty and I became very good friends during our time at Kadena.  Over the span of two years, Ty took me under his wing and changed the course of my life.  He taught me how to train.  We would go lift every day.  On the weekends we would go for night fin’s in the ocean or pool workouts in the ST (Special Tactics) pool.  He was dedicated to becoming the best possible version of himself and I admired that. I didn’t know anyone like him and it was pretty eye opening to witness the kind of individual Ty was.  He would tell me all about his training to become a Controller and how much he loved the job.  As a new airman at his first STS (Special Tactics Squadron), he excelled and got many opportunities due to his ability.  He was impressive in every way and inspired me and everyone around him to live a different way than we had before encountering him.
Ty passed away in a motorcycle accident on August 20th, 2012 in his hometown of Gig Harbor, WA. This was a life changing event for me. I was working in the dental clinic at Cannon AFB, NM and had just finished my first patient of the morning when I received the phone call.  I couldn’t believe it and didn’t for a long while after.
It was never my intention to stay in for longer than four years.  I had initially wanted to join with a contract to enter the CCT pipeline but wasn’t able to due to poor vision.  I needed a waiver and was told it would be easier if I enlisted open general, got the vision waiver, and then switched my job at basic…long story short, it doesn’t work that way and I was stuck as a dental tech for three years out of my original commitment of four. I was set to separate in August of 2013, but after Ty passed, there was no way I was going to always wonder “what if”.
I began training for the sole purpose of retraining into becoming a CCT.  I worked my dental job and trained before I went to work and after. My days would start at around 4:30am and I wouldn’t be in bed until 10:30-11pm every night.  Not a training session went by that I didn’t have him in my mind. Keep the Fire Burning. I carry him with me in my heart and on my wrist…the same wrist band I wear to this day. I wore it every day in the pipeline and it served as a constant reminder for me.  It still does.
I feel that sometimes, life works out in ways that we never could have expected.  Yet, it still always seems to work out.  That mindset that infected me stemmed from someone else. Someone who had learned the benefits of being mentally unwavering despite the odds.  Unmoved by obstacles and focused on their path alone.  Stoic.
I have been fortunate to develop a presence on social media that helps positively influence the next generation of hopefuls and I understand how our brand provides a platform to express that.  Keep the Fire Burning was printed under a CCT flash on a memorial shirt for Ty Barnes. Our design for NFQ is meant as not only a reminder for those who are now of age to carry the torch and earn their spot among the elite, but as a tribute to Ty Barnes.  A man who was the epitome of A Different Breed.
Rest easy brother, we’ll take it from here.  We’ll Keep the Fire Burning.

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • 👍🏽👍🏽

    Mike B on
  • Strong story brother! Thanks for sharing! Kadena was a fun base, I remember your dorms, security forces lived there also! Good times at gate 2 street! Keep the fire burning bro!

    JG on

Leave a comment