A final journey home: Hundreds gather in Dike for fallen Marine

A group gathered around Abels Funeral Home in Dike as the casket carrying PFC Tyler Cox was moved into the building following a procession that traveled from Des Moines to Dike on Wednesday night. (Seth McDuffee photo)
Seth McDuffee
The Grundy Register

Hundreds of people lined the streets in Dike on Wednesday night to show respect and bid farewell to a fallen soldier.


Marine Corps PFC Tyler Knight Cox, 19, of Dike, Iowa died unexpectedly during a training exercise on April 29 at Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina where he was stationed. Graduating early from Dike – New Hartford High School, Cox was able to be enlisted immediately in the United States Marine Corps, and begin his journey in the Armed Forces as a member of the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines as a 0311 rifleman.


On Wednesday, May 13, Cox and his family were escorted back to Dike, from Des Moines, by local and state law enforcement and the Patriot Guard Riders. When they arrived in town after 10 p.m., they were greeted with the sight of hundreds of individuals flooding the streets outside of the funeral home, all there to pay their respects for one of their own. There was a certain sadness peppered throughout the congregation, as many tears flowed freely and trembling lips uttered condolences. The loss of someone so young and full of vibrant energy was strongly displayed on the faces of those who gathered for the homecoming.


As his fellow Marines transported Cox to the inside of the building, a hush fell over the assembled crowd, the only sound the snap of countless American flags against the evening wind. Despite the unseasonable chill, all stood frozen in reverence to the man who returned home.


A private visitation was held on Friday, May 15 for the family, and on Saturday, May 16, a service for family and friends of Cox was held in the Dike-New Hartford auditorium to celebrate Cox’s life. There, friends and family were encouraged to share stories about PFC Cox and speak to his character, his warmth, and his humor.


The service began with a video from HonoringOurFallen.org detailing the journey from Des Moines to Dike, and the countless people and town law enforcement along the way that stood in respect for Cox.
Juli Camarin, a teaching pastor at Orchard Hill Church, led the service for Cox, and spoke to the personality that Cox had in his interactions with others. She quoted Cox’s father, Mike Cox, about the virtues he’d expressed about his son.
 “Tyler made friends in a matter of days,” she quoted, referring to what his father called, ‘his magnetic personality,’ “... he drew and welcomed people in. Tyler wasn’t even afraid to come off as a little bit silly, if it put people at ease. So, he frequently did that.”


Cox’s longtime friend, and fellow Marine, Kenyon Phipps, spoke at length about the impact that Cox had on him, as well as the lasting effect he’d fostered with his brothers-in-arms.


“Tyler and I came up completely from boot camp together, every step of the way in our Marine Corps career,” Phipps said during the service, “and the flood of emotions that hit when I found out... I was angry. I was upset. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hit something.”


But, Phipps said that was all “washed away”, when he remembered his friend’s approach to life, recalling that he’d never seen him cry.


“No matter how serious a situation was, or how bad the training event was...” Phipps continued, adopting his friend’s mannerisms, “...he always had a smile on and said, ‘we can do this.’”


After the funeral service, an escort led Cox and his family to Elmwood Cemetery, where his burial and military honors were conducted by the United States Marine Corps. Families in cars lined the roads, and sidewalks were teeming with pedestrians along the short passage.


If the outpouring of attendance, messages and conversations are any indication, PFC Tyler Knight Cox will be missed, but never forgotten.



The Grundy Register

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