Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Iraq War Army Veteran Michael A. Byer. Michael wrote the song “Over the Wire” as a part of #OperationSong.
A long-standing tradition in the military, retiring soldiers pitch their boots over a powerline wire. Michael’s song, however, is not simply about his retirement, but a poignant tribute to his son who was enlisting in the Army at the same time. “Over the Wire” evokes a compelling mirror image of one soldier leaving his boots behind on a wire, the other crossing over a wire into battle.
The thing that scared me the most was he’d see and do all I’ve seen and done
Michael served in the Army for over 22 years with the Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. His tours of duty include Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Restore Hope Mogadishu, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.
His son, Garrett, now serves in the same unit. Michael was initially upset that his son was set on following in his footsteps. He said his son was “going to war, the same war he started as a kid.”
One pair of boots will face the fire, the other pair goes over the wire
Michael was forced into medical retirement when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Garrett was graduating from basic training. He asked his father to wear his service uniform one last time to his cord ceremony. Michael recalled his son’s words to him just as he was placing the cord on his son: “Don’t worry, it’s my turn now.” Those words and moments would be transformed into lyrics for “Over the Wire.”
Yeah my old pair is going over the wire
For his service, Michael was awarded with two Bronze Star Medals. His participation in Operation Song inspired him to establish his own program to help other Veterans. Sounds of Acoustic Recovery, or SOAR, aims to help Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder through music, specifically by teaching them how to play the guitar.
Thank you for your service, Michael!