Marine 2nd Lt. Taylor Batye drove 16 hours to visit her sick grandfather, retired Army Sgt. Maj. David Teufel, in the hospital. Teufel was unable to travel to Batye's Naval Academy graduation in May, so she traveled to him on Father's Day for her first salute. (Courtesy of Marty Teufel)
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Retired Army Sgt. Maj. David Teufel was too sick to travel to his granddaughter’s graduation at the U.S. Naval Academy to offer the new Marine officer her first salute. So she drove 16 hours, surprising him on Father’s Day, so the two could share the special moment.
Teufel planned to attend 2nd Lt. Taylor Batye’s graduation in Maryland on May 23. But his battle with several illnesses, including lymphoma from exposure to Agent Orange, kept him parked in the intensive care unit at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital in Missouri.
On Sunday, Batye’s mom, Marty Teufel, snapped a photo as the newly minted Marine officer got the salute for which she had waited.
“I wish you could’ve seen the emotion when she walked in in uniform and said, ‘Give me my salute, grandpa,’ ” Marty Teufel told Marine Corps Times.
Batye, 22, followed a family legacy of military service. Like her grandfather, both of her parents served in the Army. Marty Teufel said her daughter decided to join the Corps after she was recruited by the Naval Academy to play soccer.
Batye, who received her degree in mechanical engineering, is the first in the family to serve as an officer, which makes them all proud — especially her grandpa, who Marty said gets a big smile on his face whenever he sees the photo of their first salute.
“He taught us all honor, duty and commitment,” she said of her father’s career in the Army. “Then we taught [our kids] that this is our country, and only we can protect it.”
Two of David Teufel’s old Army buddies visited him in the hospital the day before Batye was set to arrive to give him a shave and a haircut, Marty said. The career soldier isn’t one for looking shabby, she said, and they wanted to make sure he was squared away for the surprise moment they knew was coming.
When Batye arrived, three of the nurses on staff in the ICU joined the family to see the exchange. Teufel has since requested that the photo be blown up and framed so he can keep it by his bed, Marty said. And when it was shared on social media, it immediately gained traction, getting hundreds of shares and “likes.”
“There’s just so much emotion in it,” she said. “You see the pride, the service — it’s just a very emotional thing.”