The bridge east of Arkansas City on U.S. 166 Highway might soon be dedicated to the memory of Sgt. Tyler Juden.
State Rep. Bill Rhiley, R-Wellington, has introduced House Bill 2431, which would designate the bridge just east of the roundabout at Kansas Avenue as the Sgt. Tyler A. Juden Memorial Bridge.
Tyler’s father, Bob Juden, said on Monday that he was approached more than a year ago by a group interested in having a bridge dedicated to his son.
He said he wasn’t aware such a program existed.
“It’s a nice thing they do for soldiers,” he said.
Rhiley said on Monday that he was approached by the local VFW and asked to initiate the legislation.
The bridge was chosen because it was one that his son frequently traveled, Juden said.
It would be named after his son, he added, but would also be dedicated as a memorial to all soldiers who have given their lives serving their country.
Tyler Juden served two terms in Afghanistan. He began his first term with the rank of Private First E-3, and received two promotions during that tour, his father said.
“He came back as a sergeant, and that was because he was good at what he did,” Bob Juden said. “His second time over there, it didn’t work for him.”
Tyler served as an infantryman with the 4th Squadron, 73rd Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team and the 82nd Airborne Division.
He was killed at age 23 during his second tour of duty on Sept. 12, 2009, when enemy forces attacked his unit near Turan, Afghanistan. Tyler served in the sniper section during that second deployment.
Bob Juden said when his son left on his first tour of duty, he warned him that if an officer and a chaplain were to ever arrive at his door, he would know that things were bad.
One night around 11 p.m., Juden said he received a visit he would not wish on anyone.
“The first thing I wanted to do was run away,” he said. “But there is nowhere to run. There’s no way you can get away from it.
“It’s tougher than anything to lose your kids.”
Due to a mix-up, Juden said, the officers first contacted another family back east and told them their son had been killed.
“It wasn’t their son, it was Tyler,” he said.
Tyler’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Parachutist Badge and the Combat Infantry Badge.
“He loved Ark City, he loved Cowley County, he loved the United States, and that was the driving source to my son,” Juden said.