TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – In the summer of 2012, Mark “Tyler” Voss was taking a class on Partial Differential Equations from the University of Alabama (UA). But the catch: he was taking the class all the way from where he was serving in Afghanistan.
Voss was a captain in the U.S. Air Force. He was also working on his Master’s Degree.
Voss was able to participate in the class through UA’s Distance Learning Program. His main line of communication was with a fellow student and teaching assistant named Sarah Chamberlain.
Over e-mails, Chamberlain helped Voss and several other students studying from Afghanistan complete the course.
Chamberlain explains that she and the professor would have to be very flexible for Voss when it came to assignments or tests. He would often be flying missions, and homework wasn’t always the first priority.
After passing the class, Voss felt indebted to Chamberlain for her patience and assistance. He told her, via e-mail, that he planned to send her a small token of his appreciation. Time passed, and the gift never arrived. Chamberlain didn’t think much of it, reasoning that it was probably a thank you card.
However nearly a year later, a package was finally delivered to Chamberlain. The gift had been lost in the mail. Inside was a flag that had been flown in one of Voss’s missions in Afghanistan.
There was also a note from Voss’s father.
Mark “Tyler” Voss had been killed on May 3, 2013 near Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan, in the explosion and crash of a KC-135 Stratotanker. The plane was on a refueling mission for the Afghanistan war operations at the time of the crash. Voss was 27 years old.
When Voss’s father had been given his things, he discovered that the flag had been shipped back and was among his other items.
He told Chamberlain that he wanted to fulfill his son’s wish that the flag be shipped on to Chamberlain at the University of Alabama.
Chamberlain says she was honored to receive the gift, never knowing that Voss had intended to send her a flag. She also says she will cherish it even more, knowing that Voss passed away fighting for our country’s freedoms.
Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42