Coley Tyler grew up in Macon, Georgia, and Franklin, North Carolina, with a love for being outdoors and reading history. His interest in military history, coupled with the TV mini-series “North and South,” sparked his curiosity about West Point, which only grew after his grandma gave him a book about the Academy and told him a great uncle had played football there. He did well in physical events as a Cadet, tabbing the IOCT (Indoor Obstacle Course Test) and earning the APFB (Army Physical Fitness Badge). Finding a personal role model as a Plebe gave him lifelong inspiration. During his freshman year, he met LTG(R) Hal Moore, and after reading his book “We Were Soldiers Once, And Young” found him to be a quiet professional who took care of his Soldiers, a trait that resonated with the introverted Tyler. In the summer of 1998, he completed CTLT (Cadet Troop Leader Training) at Ft. Hood, Texas, in 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, a unit he returned to as a Second Lieutenant. In all, he spent about 10 years in 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. He reported to Ft. Hood after spending so long in Ranger School that he was reported as AWOL (Absent Without Leave) by the unit and even had his pay stopped. In March of 2004, he deployed to Iraq as the Intelligence Officer (S2) for 2-82 Field Artillery. After six months in that job, he was reassigned as the Fire Support Officer (FSO) in 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, and from November to December 2004 his battalion was assigned to RCT-1 (1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1) for the Second Battle of Fallujah. He was responsible for long-range fires from M-198 towed 155mm Howitzers and Close Air Support (CAS) for his battalion. He worked closely with an Air Liaison Officer from the Air Force, and had a military lawyer at his side to ensure that fire missions were executed in accordance with the Rules of Engagement. After completing his tour in Iraq and his time at Ft. Hood, he earned a Master’s Degree at Indiana University before returning to West Point to teach in the Department of Physical Education. His goal during that assignment was to make Cadets better through physical fitness. An accompanied assignment to Korea followed a course at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and by this time, he was serving in Functional Area 40, Space Operations. In Korea, he served on the staff of the 8th Army. After Korea, he completed the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). Currently, he is serving at Ft. Benning Georgia.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his years at West Point, and his experiences in the Army. He compares his time at West Point as a Cadet with his tour there as an Instructor. He describes choosing Field Artillery as a branch after trying to decide between that and Infantry. He discusses his actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah, and the various types of support he was able to provide to the units on the ground. He explains the procedure in place to ensure that American units in contact were supported, while redundancies were in place to mitigate civilian casualties. He addresses writing his book, “Ghosts of Fallujah,” highlighting his determination to have it published as not-quite-a-memoir and not-quite-a-history, and his goal of getting those who served there to open up about their experiences in that battle. Finally, he reflects on what West Point means to him.