A Barrington Hills veteran of both the Chicago Police Department and Vietnam War is being remembered for his lifelong courage and heroism after being killed Tuesday in a firefight in Afghanistan.
Tom Boyle, 62, had left the comforts of a Barrington Hills retirement far behind to serve as a contracted law enforcement professional in Afghanistan, where he was providing security and training Afghanis to do the same.
He previously had served in the same capacity during two tours each in Kosovo and Iraq, Boyle's friend and former employer Steve Kirby said.
Kirby attributed Boyle's calling to this type of work to his strong moral convictions.
"Tom didn't need to do this," Kirby said. "He was very financially secure."
While a Chicago police officer, Boyle was personally responsible for capturing brothers Tyrone and Larry Strickland, who were later convicted of murdering Wheeling Police Officer Kenneth Dawson in November 1985. Boyle also recovered the weapon used in Dawson's fatal shooting.
"Thomas Boyle will always have a special place in the Wheeling Police Department," Wheeling Police Chief William Benson said Thursday. "He is truly, truly a hero. It's a tragic story."
Boyle was born in 1949, grew up in Chicago and joined the Marine Corps just out of high school, Kirby said. He served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 and earned the Cross of Gallantry.
Boyle then joined the Chicago Police Department in 1970 and served for 30 years before retiring.
Upon his retirement, he went to work for Kirby's private detective agency in Elmhurst. The safety of those he served with, particularly new or younger people, was especially important to him, Kirby said.
"Tom was a great mentor for us," he added.
He eventually left to begin working as a security contractor overseas. Kirby joked that his business' line of work may have been a bit boring for Boyle.
Boyle's wife, Pauline, said her husband was always driven to serve his country in the best possible way, but didn't always feel like he was fulfilling his potential -- even with the Chicago police.
"I think Steve hit the nail on the head," Pauline said. "I think (Tom) realized he wasn't making the difference that he wanted to."
On the day she learned of her husband's death, Pauline had gone to the post office to send a doll and stuffed animal to a little girl in Afghanistan who had touched her husband's heart. In all the countries he served, the safety and well-being of children was always near the top of his mind, she said.
"This was not unusual for him to do this every month or every other month," Pauline said of the gift delivery.
She said her husband had been working as a law enforcement contractor on and off for the past decade, sometimes being gone for two years at a time. It seemed to fulfill his desire to do good.
"It was rewarding," she said. "He felt he was accomplishing something. He's just a good American. He's a patriot. He loved this country."
Though Boyle did not pursue higher education, he had a need and capacity to educate himself to be more effective in any new pursuit, Kirby said. For example, before Boyle went out to Kosovo, he immersed himself in knowledge of the region's culture and languages, Kirby said.
Boyle is also survived by his son, Ryan.
Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 30 at Davenport Family Funeral Home at 149 W. Main St. in Barrington. Services will begin at 4 p.m. that day, immediately after the visitation.
Kirby and Benson will be among the speakers at the service, Pauline said.