Tim Kerlee - 12th Man

23 Feb 01
Thanks to Shirley for hosting the photo.

Geocities is no longer allowing off-site links to point to images on their servers. --Cariño ’99

[I got this on an email. Not sure if it's been posted already, but I've included the photo mentioned.]

A hero...

Subject: The Twelfth Man

The twelve young people who died were truly remarkable kids. They were scholars, student athletes, active in Boy Scouts, 4-H, Church groups,they were leaders. If you had to chose a dozen students to represent the best of Texas A&M, you probably wouldn't do much better than these.

I have just learned about Timothy Doran Kerlee, Jr. He was the twelfth student to die, when his life support was disconnected last Friday evening. Let me tell you about this amazing kid.

Tim graduated last year from Germantown High School in Germantown,Tennessee. He was an Eagle Scout, graduated third in his class, and was elected to his High School Hall of Fame. He was a student athlete, and a member of the National Honor Society. He was active in the youth group and drama club at his Methodist Church.

He was actively recruited by Texas A&M, and when he enrolled he tested out of his entire freshman year. That is how this 17 year-old could be classified as a sophomore. Tim's father said that he was thrilled to be at A&M, and especially excited about bonfire.

When the stack collapsed, his pelvis was crushed, his arm was broken, and his (organs badly damaged.)

On the front page of Friday's Dallas Morning News is a large photo of the collapsed stack taken during the early part of the rescue effort. You can see a team working at the base of the logs to save a trapped student. About five feet above the rescue team is Tim Kerlee, reclining on a pile of logs, propped up on one elbow. Unless you look carefully at the photo you will probably not notice that his legs are laying in an odd position. <P>What was happening,according to the rescue teams, was that Kerlee was directing the teams to other students trapped in the stack. He kept telling them that he was O.K., and he directed rescuers to at least five other students before he allowed them to take him down from the stack.

He was taken into emergency surgery, and when they opened him up they found his organs so badly damaged that they couldn't identify much of what they saw. They closed him up, wrapped him in a sheet to hold him together, and placed on life support. He lived long enough to see and speak to his parents. He was aware that he was dying and asked to be removed from life support. When his parents asked him why he wanted to, he asked them why he should fight for a few more days of life when he could be in Heaven with Jesus right now. Well, he got his wish.

I feel sorry that I never had a chance to know Tim Kerlee, but I praise God for kids like Tim Kerlee. If you had to pick a twelfth man you couldn't do much better.

-- Fred Maddox

J.P. Beato/The Battalion

[This message has been edited by carino99 (edited 2/23/2001).]

[This message has been edited by carino99 (edited November 29, 1999).]

He was one of the greatest individuals i will ever have the chance to meet. he was a great person. Even though I only met him a couple of times he seemed like a bright, and caring person.

Hardcore Aggie
Fighting Aggie Class Of '02

This is a very painful picture to look at. I wish the papers hadn't published it. He was a member of my son-in-law's old outfit, Squadron 16. I'm sure that outfit will greatly miss his leadership and friendship.
It is the painful pictures that tell the best stories. This was one of the first photos I saw after I heard Bonfire had fallen. It told me exactly what was going on on campus when I couldn't be there. And now, knowing the story behind it makes it so much more powerful. It tells of Kerlee's strength and character. It tells me a little bit about a brother I lost before I could make his acquaintance.
i vaguely remember seeing this picture among the hundreds i saw during the past week and a half. it is really sad to think about how it ended. tim kerlee is a hero.
this needs to get back to the top!
Compared to this young man .........

I am nothing.

This is the first time I have seen the picture of Tim.

Just heartbreaking. I can only hope I can raise my two sons (Class of '17 and Class of '19) to be the kind of man he was.

His parents did a great job!!!

When I look at this picture I can't help but think that I wish I was there to help. I'm sure that I couldn't have done anything more than was being done but if nothing else to just comfort him until they could get to him.

I know that it's our responsibility to all of their memories to make sure that our children understand what happened and learn to understand if not feel "The Spirit of Aggieland".

It is times like these that make you more thankful for what you have. I thank God for allowing me to attend A&M and feel the Spirit.


[This message has been edited by OlArmyWalton92 (edited December 02, 1999).]

The best and the brightest.
This is truly heartbreaking. I had not seen this post until one of my professors read the e-mail in class today. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.

Things like this really make you want to ask "why?". Such a bright young kid...one of our future leaders. I thank God for every day he has given me on this earth. This really makes you see that life is so precious and so fragile.

I did not ever have the pleasure of meeting Tim or any of the others, but I feel like a part of my family has died. A&M is my home away from home, and every student is part of my family. As I look at that picture of him, I can only hope that I would have that kind of courage and strength to do what he did. I feel that God has a plan for all of our lives, and maybe his plan for Tim was to have a profound effect on the lives of many people he did not even know.

I, for one, will never forget him, and the impact he and the others have had on me. If my actions toward others have half the impact of theirs, I will have lived a full life.

God Bless

All these young leaders were very special people. Destine to great things, for the university, for their communities, for the world. God must certinly have important work for them to take them from us so early.
Ole Frank was looking over his old outfit's (Sq. 16) homepage http://corps.tamu.edu/outfits/sq-16/ , and all I can tell you is that this kid was going places. It's in his eyes, folks. He may very well have been the next Falcon Corps Commander. I doubt that Simpson Honor Society, RV, several DS's etc etc... would have been out of the question.

A blasted shame.

Thanks for the article. Just when I thouht all the tears for Bonfire have subsided, this article has started them up again.

I'm a wife of a former Sq 16 member (Class of 93) and his death has been close to me since he was in Sq 16. When we visited Sq 16 last Friday, they were doing ok themselves. Some of his upperclassmen told us how sharp this cadet was and thought he was probably one of their best fish. He had so much potential in the Corps, on campus, and in life and it really is hard to understand why he had to die. As I watched his fish buddies get ready for the march-in, they all looked somber but yet they recited their campos so well and got their uniforms squared away like nothing has happened. They were so inspiration to watch as I know it must have been hard to do a march-in without their buddy. They all were wore black ribbons with a metal hanging down that had Tim Kerlee's name inscribed. They will wear this metal for the rest of their career in the Corps. What is really sad is that for most of these fish this is the first metal they are allowed to wear on their uniform.

My husband's Sq 16 buddies lost one between the summer their Junior year. It hit them hard and they too wore a black ribbon to remember him by. They constantly remember him when they get together every year. This has been 8 years and they still remember him. My husband and I were discussing this and some simularities between 93 and 03. We figured not only do both classes share a 3 in their years but will always share the bond of having a buddy die while in the Corps.

You have to be proud of this man. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families.
Above and beyond the call of duty. Never, Never Sleeping On Aggie Guard Duty. May God Bless you and your family.
Tim and his actions define "unselfishness". I'm not a Bible scholar but the "Greater love hath no man, but to lay his life down for his friends" (or words to that effect) fit so perfectly here. I can't begin to imagine the pain that his family must be dealing with, but hopefully they can take some comfort in the kind of man that Tim Kerlee was. No telling how many lives he saved. God Bless.

As for those who wish the papers wouldn't have run the picture. There was a very good explanation in Friday's Dallas Morning News by the editor, after several letters ripping them for running it, explaining why the decision was made to go ahead. The ed said that at the time the paper went to press that Tim was in critical condition. Had they known that he would later die, of course they said, the picture would've never ran. The editor extended his sincerest sympathy and said that the staff at the paper were saddened to hear of his passing. As a former journalist, I aggree. That is a very dramatic picture and needed to run under the circumstances at the time. It's easy to say now that it should not have.

It's definitely one I'll never forget.

Remember to pray for John Ags.

"It has to start sometime. It has to start somewhere. What better better place than here? What better time than now?!"

Of all the pictures taken of the bonfire tragedy, this is my favorite. Has anyone else noticed the angel in the top left corner? I can see it very clearly and it jumps out at me every time. She's looking down at Tim with her beautiful wings open behind her. She's full size (the same size as a Tim) and once you see it, you can't miss.
I see the angel. Sent chills down my back. A true Aggie Hero. Godspeed Tim. We love you. TTT
God Bless the Twelfth Man.
Now that I go back and look at the picture and pay attention to the left corner I can see the angel too. Thanks for pointing it out.
Thanks for pointing out the angel in the picture guarding and comforting Tim. This story should find its way into ANGELS magazine, printed by Guideposts. I am awed by the immense courage this fine young man displayed; his example shall always lead the Falcons who follow in his footprints.
My oldest son will be a freshman next fall. I told him I hope he has the opportunity to work on the Bonfire next year, I also said if he does that he should perform with the same zeal that Tim did. We shared the picture together and discussed what it is to make a sacrifice as Tim did for his fellow Aggies. Last night my youngest son (13) who is maroon out and out had a long discussion. He didn't like the way I was asking questions on his homework and really was complaining. I showed him what sacrifice (Tims pic ) was and that he should appreciate what former Ags have done. He started loking at life differently.
Lets all pray for John.

I keep coming back to this post. The picture is so hard to look at and yet, I felt I was seeing things when I saw an image in the left hand corner. I can now see the Angel. I am quite certain that she was his guardian. How else could he have survived long enough to help the others? We all have a purpose in this life time. Tim's was just tougher to watch and understand.

-Blayne Thompson


Truly Amazing Grace...

Everytime I look at that picture the details become clearer... Wow..

Gig'em and God Bless
Praying for John....

When myself and my family went to the Site, I felt like I had to do something. I laid an Aggie cap my son,also the class of '03, had given me the previous Christmas on Tim's Memorial. It was woefully inadequate, but I had nothing I valued more to give. Except the prayers of myself and my extended family.
God bless The Immortal 12 and the 12th Man.
Let us all pray it does not become thirteen.
Fight on, John!
I also now see the Angel watching over Tim. I really didn't think I had any tears left until I looked at the picture somemore and realized God's presence at that exact moment. I could only wish that I could be half the person that Tim Kerlee IS. Gig'em and God Bless
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