Rescue hero’s son remembers father

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Kyle Maltz was only a freshman in high school when his father, Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, a pararescueman from the 38th Rescue Squadron, was killed in Afghanistan. His HH-60G Pave Hawk crashed during a mission transporting injured children to a hospital.

"I still remember it," said Kyle. "It was like something out of a war movie. A white Ford Taurus drove right by our house. I was taking out the trash at the time and I remember thinking that was odd. When I came back to the house I saw it parked in the driveway. I was supposed to call him that day."

That was eight years ago, and Kyle took lessons learned from his father to complete his undergraduate degree in communications from Western Washington University, Wash. Despite the tragedy, Kyle greets the world with a bright smile and a sense of humor.

"If there is one thing I remember my dad saying, it was 'adapt, overcome and improvise,'" said Kyle. "In business school, I just had to push through, drinking coffee at midnight and trying to get stoked about accounting."

Kyle has a brother, Kody, who also goes to Western Washington University. They are roommates.

"People hear me tell my brother I love him all the time, and they ask 'You really tell your brother that?'" he said. "I tell them 'Hell yeah' because I have had to deal with that before. I don't take things for granted anymore."

Armed with his smile and a sense of adventure, Kyle goes on road trips and tries whatever he wants to do at the time. He wanted to try skydiving, so he became certified.

"He is extremely adventurous and humble," said Laura Lerdall, That Others May Live Foundation deputy executive director for operations. "There is no arrogance about him, but he has a lot of pride in what his father did. I am very proud to know him and think he is a tremendous man."

As Kyle spoke about his father, it was evident that a sense of adventure ran in the family.

"My dad was a goofball," he said. "Having him as a father was interesting. One day we came home and there was a dune buggy just sitting in the driveway. He took us driving around base and we were literally doing donuts in the baseball fields. It was a good age for me and those were good times.

"Our family trips were crazy," he added. "We would go on a vacation and be snorkeling with military equipment and huge military fins. I've had an eventful life and have got to experience a lot because of my family."

Sergeant Maltz was not only a father but a rescue warrior and a valued community member. He also volunteered at the local fire department.

"He was a stud, the consummate pararescueman," said retired Master Sgt. Mark Lerdall who worked with Sergeant Maltz. "He was laid back and easy to get along with. He had a distinct confidence and a good sense of humor. He was the example of what every pararescueman should be."

As he spoke about his father's many deployments, Kyle's smile never faded.

"When he was deployed, he would send me photos of him in God knows where," he said. "I remember in one photo he was sitting on a tank with a .50-caliber sniper rifle in his lap.

"This one time I remember he came back with a full beard and frostbite on his fingers, and it scared the crap out of me," he added. "I didn't even recognize him. I think that mission may have been the highest mountain rescue."

In 2008, Moody's First Term Airman and Professional Enhancement Center was dedicated to Sergeant Maltz, where Kyle and Kody unveiled the sign displaying their father's name.

His father's passing in 2003 has not prevented Kyle from enjoying life. The lessons he learned helped him finish his undergraduate degree with zero debt, and is currently working toward his Master of Business Administration.