Lt. Col. Stephen Neil Hyland Jr.
Hometown: Burke, Va., USA
Occupation: Personnel issues, U.S. Army
Location: Ground, Pentagon
Twenty years ago, Stephen Neil Hyland Jr. told a friend what he'd like his epitaph to read:
"Born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."
It was just too fitting, said those who love him most.
"You look back, and all you think about is him laughing," his father, Stephen, said. "When he was in a room, everybody gathered around him."
Hyland, 45, who went by his middle name, was a lieutenant colonel in the Army and worked at the Pentagon on personnel issues. October would have marked his 21st anniversary in the military, but he has been officially declared missing since Sept. 11.
He lived in a Burke town house that friends say was a hub of social activity. When he moved in a year ago, the first piece of furniture that arrived was a pool table, a neighbor said.
"It wasn't for himself. It was an attraction for friends," said Stephen Tobin, a military buddy from way back.
Weekends, Tobin said, were party times for Hyland, when friends would gather for barbecues and laughs. During the week, however, Hyland took his job seriously.
"He was so elated to work at the Pentagon," his father said.
Hyland moved from place to place as a child, but the family eventually landed in Southern California, where he went to high school. His father, two sisters and a brother still live in that area, and another sister lives in New Jersey.
He graduated with a degree in English literature from the University of Notre Dame, of which he was proud.
"He always had a great love of life," friend Ruth Tobin said. "He also had a great love of history. The fact that he is part of history is going to give us comfort. Not now, but I think in years to come."
Recalling his laughter and dedication to country, his sister, Cheryl Hyland, put it simply: "I'm proud that Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Neil Hyland is my brother."
-- Maureen O'Hagan
Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com
The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.
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