When Tom Boyle left the Chicago Police Department after a storied 30 year career, it was obvious he had more than retirement in mind.
“I think he felt unused,” his wife Pauline said of Boyle’s brief period of rest and relaxation. “It was as if he hadn’t done what he really needed to do in life. He felt he needed to do more.”
After leaving the Police Department, Boyle, who served in the Marines in Viet Nam, signed on as a civilian trainer for police and security personnel in some of the most troubled and dangerous areas of the world. First in Kosovo, then two tours in Iraq.
His wife said he enjoyed the work, and that he genuinely loved being with the men and women of the armed forces.
“He liked that camaraderie,” she said. “It was there in the police department. It was there in the Marines. And of course, it was there in the Army.”
Boyle survived three decades of often dangerous work with the Chicago Police, and the constant threat of violence in eastern Europe and Iraq. But those dangers finally caught up with him this summer in Afghanistan. He was killed June 19th, when insurgents overran the base where he was working near Kandahar.
“He died like he wanted to,” his wife said. “This was his decision.”
Monday evening, Boyle’s name was added to the Police Memorial Wall at the Gold Star Families Memorial near Soldier Field. It is an honor normally reserved for Chicago Police Officers who fall in the line of duty. But the Memorial’s executive director, former Police Superintendent Phil Cline, said the board felt it was important that Boyle be remembered, calling him a hero. He is only the second former officer to be so recognized.
Boyle was part of the fourth generation of his family to serve with the Chicago Police. His great grandfather, William Mooney, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1908. Boyle and his brother John joined the department on the same day in October of 1972.
“I was always very proud of him,” John Boyle said Tuesday. “He was my older brother growing up. And I was always very proud of him. Always looked up to him ever since we were little kids playing ball over at St. Monica’s.”
Thomas Boyle retired from the 20th District in 2001.
“He was honest. He was good hearted. He was a good American,” his wife said. “He believed in right and wrong.”
Pauline Boyle said she had learned to live with the dangers, and in fact, went two years without seeing her husband during one of his tours in Iraq. She recalled the message she would always give him when he was a police officer, as he left home each morning.
“I would always say to him, ‘remember, your mission today is to earn a paycheck, not to be a hero.’ And I just sent it to him in an email a few days before he died.”