Bridge named after son of 200th soldier

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By Sgt. Laura Bonano

The Blue Force Tracker is designed to relay critical information to troops during missions, but it will forever hold more meaning to South Dakota Army National Guard Soldier 1st Lt. Joshua J. Lien.

Lien, a native of Lemmon and now of Rapid City, had always relied on the BFT to key him into the location of his troops and provide communication during convoy missions. The system displays a comprehensive overview of friendly forces and allows troops to instant message between vehicles.

This day, the system relayed precious news. A very important 9-pound package was on the way.

Lien, a platoon leader with the 200th Engineer Company, was hard at work when he received the news. It did not come by way of phone call, letter, courier or telegraph. Instead, a hurried announcement came through the BFT.

Lien’s wife, Crystal L. Lien had gone into labor.

New fatherhood jitters aside, Lien had a mission to complete away from his family, fighting a war and trying to rebuild a nation torn apart by conflict. He was leading members of the 200th during an operation near Bayazo village in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

More than a day into the 46-hour bridge-building mission, Tucker Casey Lien came into the world on Dec. 27 at 9 p.m. U.S. time.

Lien had anxiously waited for his wife to give birth on Christmas, but the arrival date came and went with no new little bundle of joy. Marching orders for the mission were in place and Lien had to complete the bridge.

Lien said the project was important because it provided security forces with a much faster reaction time to aid the population in peacekeeping efforts. Afghan civilians benefit from the bridge by having to travel shorter distances now.

“We were darn near done with the bridge when I got the news,” said Lien.

Lien said even though his wife had help at home, it was still overwhelming that he could not attend the birth.

Lien has served in the National Guard for 15 years and has been married for almost as long. His wife’s ability to raise a group of rambunctious youngsters attests to her unwavering support during her husband’s service.

“She’s amazing at raising boys,” said Lien of his wife.

Once the happy news broke, Sgt. 1st Class Wally Dauwen, a platoon sergeant for the unit and friend of Lien, insisted on knowing what the baby had been named.

Dauwen and Lien had a unique connection during their deployment through family ties. Lien’s father was currently serving a tour with Dauwen’s son in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Immediately, Dauwen had an idea of what the bridge should be called.

Lien said his wife picked out the name Tucker for the new addition to the family. Already, the couple was raising Taylor, Tyler, Teagan and Tyson.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to all the T names,” said Lien. “We had the first couple and decided we should stick with the trend,” said Lien.

“We even have a dog named Toby,” he said.

Safely back on Camp Leatherneck, Lien is full of smiles when he points to a picture proudly displayed near his desk. The photo shows the newborn with bright open eyes and dressed in baby blue jammies, held by his beaming mother.

“They’re only little for a short amount of time and that’s what I miss most about not being there,” said Lien.

Exactly one month after the news came, Lien was standing on the finished bridge during an inspection.

He was surely thinking of little Tucker, who will leave his mark in Afghanistan without ever having been there.

The International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, which officially approves the names of structures in Afghanistan, agreed to Dauwen’s suggestion.

For as long as it stands, anyone wanting to cross from Bayazo village to Highway 1, need only ask where Tucker’s Crossing can be found.

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