On the evening of Sunday September 11, 2011 we received the following message from Tyler Allen of Bainbridge
|Relatives of Sgt. James Daniel Faulkner,
My name is Tyler Allen and I am 13 years old. I live in Bainbridge, Georgia and I found one of your
balloons at my Granddaddy's house west of Bainbridge, Georgia. I was doing a head count of the goats in
the pasture when I noticed something shiny and red stuck in the fence. I went over and looked and saw
that it was a balloon with an ID card attached. I picked it up and thought it was cool and read the ID card. I
took the card inside and we all went online and thought it was awesome that the balloon made it so far here
and that I found it. Because today is September 11, 2011 this made it so much more special.
You are the first people that I know of that do this with balloons. I am honored to have found one because
Sgt. Faulkner made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. I plan to share this with my teachers, friends and
My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Bainbridge Georgia is roughly 230 miles south of Atlanta and around 625 miles from New Albany Indiana.
And while we were amazed at the distance the balloon travelled we were very touched by the letter Tyler
sent to us.
How many 13 year old young men are there who understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by the
Soldiers and First Responders who serve our country?
The local newspaper in Bainbridge, The Post-Searchlight published an article about Tyler and his
amazing find in it's Wednesday September 14, 2011 edition. The article and text is shown below.
Here is the text of the article:
Boy finds balloon that had been released from Indiana, to honor soldier
By JUSTIN SCHUVER
A 13-year-old Brinson boy received a special card Sunday, but it didn’t come by mailbox or computer — it
came by balloon.
Tyler Allen, the son of Zane and Kim Allen, was visiting his grandfather Sunday when he discovered a deflated
balloon that was stuck to a post. When he inspected the balloon, he found a card attached to the string,
showing a picture of a deceased U.S. soldier — Sgt. James Daniel Faulkner — and information about his
military life, as well as a website.
After Tyler visited the website, he learned that the balloon had been released from New Albany, Ind., a town
more than 618 miles away, on Saturday, Sept. 5. Each year, the soldier’s family members release
approximately 30 mylar balloons, along with their attached cards, from Kraft-Graceland Memorial Park in New
“My grandpa had asked me to go outside and do a headcount of his goats for him,” Tyler said. “At first I was
just going to throw the balloon away, but then I noticed the card and I thought it was pretty cool. I thought it
was extra special to find it on Sept. 11, because of the significance of that day.”
Tyler sent an email to Faulkner’s parents, Greg and Pam Gilkey, shortly after finding the balloon Sunday.
They responded back Monday afternoon.
“Daniel would have been amazed at how far that (balloon) traveled,” they wrote in the e-mail. “How fitting that
you found it on Sept. 11 as well. This is a special day in our American history, ranking right up there with Pearl
According to the website, www.ourhometownhero.com, most of the balloons that have been discovered were
found in the nearby states of Kentucky, Ohio, or Indiana. Tyler’s balloon appears to have traveled nearly the
longest, along with a balloon that was discovered in Altha, Fla. One balloon was found in 2006 in the city of
Bainbridge, but it was Bainbridge, Ohio.
According to the card on Tyler’s balloon, Faulkner was killed in Iraq on Sept. 8, 2004, while fighting in
Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was 23 years old.
“I sent (Faulkner’s parents) an email picture of the balloon and where I found it,” Tyler said. “I’m thinking about
putting it in a frame and preserving it. I’m sure a lot of people find the balloons and don’t bother to respond,
so I wanted to make sure that I did.”
Tyler also has another unique connection to 9/11. His mother, Kim, said the family took a trip to New York City
in July 2001, two months to the day before the tragedy occurred. The family still has a photo of Kim holding
Tyler while they stand on a bridge with the Twin Towers in the background.
“I’m a little too young to remember that trip,” Tyler said.
When asked what his grandparents thought of Tyler’s balloon, he just laughed.
“Grandpa told me, ‘Tyler I told you to count goats, not find balloons!,’” Tyler said. “But I know he thought it was
pretty cool, too.”
|TYLER ALLEN - Holding the balloon he found at his Grandfather's house in Bainbridge Georgia
|Thank you Tyler for your kind response and for your appreciation, respect and patriotism.
You have brought us much joy and comfort.