The father of a Fleming Island Army sergeant who died last week in a training accident in Louisiana said his son was a hero who had a passion for serving his country.
Sgt. Tyler Zody, 20, was killed Thursday in a single-vehicle rollover crash at Fork Polk. Three others were injured.
After graduating from Fleming Island High School, Zody dedicated his adult life to serving his country.
Even at a young age, Zody knew he wanted to be in the military, growing into a talented and young Army sergeant who climbed quickly through the ranks, trained as a sniper.
Zody's father said he spoke with his son nearly every day when he could. He said his son made him extremely proud.
"Good friend, good son, best friend," Mike Zody said. "Really weird thing for a dad to say, but he was my best friend."
Mike Zody said Tyler Zody was full of character and life, a man mature beyond his years, earning the rank of sergeant at age 20.
Zody spent one deployment in Afghanistan with the Rakkasans but lost his life on American soil. He died during a routine training operation in a Humvee when he was thrown from the vehicle.
"He loved life, loved the life he was leading," Mike Zody said. "He loved the military and everything about it, and I think that's why he excelled."
Zody said his son was promoted quickly because he succeeded at everything he did, winning numerous medals and awards. Zody said his son will be remembered as a soldier willing to put his life on the line for his country.
"Great son, awesome big brother and a good man," he said. "A great soldier, and that speaks for itself."
The crash Zody was involved in is still under investigation. His body will be returned to his family in northeast Florida later this week. He'll receive full military honors when he's laid to rest.