“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
That’s what Oklahoma Christian University student Kyle Seitsinger did 10 years ago.
Serving as an Army Sergeant in Afghanistan, he died along with seven other U.S. soldiers when a weapons cache exploded. Kyle was less than a year away from graduating with a dual major in journalism and Spanish when he died.
On Wednesday, the 10-year anniversary of Kyle’s death, the OC family paused to remember Kyle during a special Chapel service.
Dr. Philip Patterson, distinguished professor of mass communication at Oklahoma Christian, delivered the Chapel message in memory of his former student. Ironically, the service also fell 40 years to the day after Patterson had been drafted with lottery number nine, which would have sent him to war if he hadn’t been in college at the time.
“I knew that someone else went in my place, that someone did have to go fill the military need in Vietnam,” Patterson said. “Today, we’re celebrating someone who did go in someone else’s place. We thought it was only fitting for you to pause for a moment and think about someone who sat exactly where you’re sitting right now who had the courage to say, ‘I’ll go if I’m called.’
“He did, and he paid the price.”
As part of the Chapel service, OC president John deSteiguer presented Kyle’s father, Dan Seitsinger, with a citation awarding a posthumous degree to Kyle, who aspired to be an international correspondent living and reporting out of South America.
During his time at Oklahoma Christian, Kyle worked for the Talon, OC’s student newspaper, serving as an editor for two years. He also wrote part-time for The Oklahoman and the Edmond Sun.
In 2002, he was one of 16 student journalists chosen to participate in the Summer Institute in Journalism sponsored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. His assignments included interviews with the Colombian president and with U.S. representatives Ernest Istook and J.C. Watts.
Prior to coming to OC, Kyle served in the U.S. Marines from 1993 to 2000, guarding U.S. embassies in Brasilia, Brazil, and Moscow, Russia, as well as the U.S. consulate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kyle also was an expert marksman and rifle instructor at Camp Pendleton. He was named “Top Gun” at his embassy school graduation in Quantico, Va.
Kyle’s down-to-earth, gregarious personality attracted friends of all kinds. In Brasilia, he “adopted” two young poor girls and urged his family to send them gifts. He rarely missed a chance to practice Spanish or Portuguese with native speakers. Despite their cultural differences, Kyle always knew what to say and how to keep them talking.
He enrolled at Oklahoma Christian in the fall of 2000 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves to help pay for college. He was called into active duty in November 2003.
When he and his fellow soldiers were killed, it represented the United States’ largest loss of life in Afghanistan at the time. Kyle was the first Oklahoman killed serving in “Operation Enduring Freedom” and is the only active student in OC’s history to be killed in the line of duty.
“That makes Kyle unique among us for that greater love,” Patterson said, invoking John 15. “Kyle stands alone.”