Ramstein Airman survives rare medical condition

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jared lovett
  • 86 AW/PA


As a 20 year old, Airman 1st Class in the United States Air Force, Tyler Benner was, as most people would put it, “killing it.”

His aggressive work ethic was paying off. He was nominated for a quarterly award and was working up to his below-the-zone package. 

“I’m passionate about everything I do and work is no exception,” Benner said. “I enjoy performing at my best and it was so uplifting to be recognized.”

His strenuous weightlifting routine and success in rugby left him with a feeling of pride in his accomplishments. He was striving to be able to play rugby on the Air Force team.

“I was feeling on top of the world,” Benner said. “Everything in life seemed to be coming together.”

On the day of his quarterly award ceremony, a day when his coworkers, leaders, and friends were on-hand to acknowledge his accomplishments, he was not.

“I was feeling pain in my ribs and I couldn't eat or drink so I was sent to the emergency room at Landstuhl Medical Center,” Benner said. 

Throughout his time there, Benner says that the staff went above and beyond for him and were at his bedside within seconds if he needed anything.

After multiple scans and tests, the doctor sent him to Hamburg Medical Center in Hamburg, Germany to undergo an operation that yielded no success in fixing his pain.

“I couldn’t believe the situation I was in,” Benner said. “I was eating right and I was serious about my fitness. I felt healthy. So how did this happen?”

Tyler says his time at Hamburg was silent torture. The constant stabbing in his side was dull compared to the thoughts running through his mind.

“All I could think about was if I was going to be okay,” Benner said. “The sense of not knowing what my future looked like was unbearable.”

After a failed attempt to fix his ailment, Benner was sent to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland to undergo further treatments.

The situation had progressed quickly, leaving Benner with a feeling of hopelessness.

“I had a collapsed lung, internal bleeding, extreme weight loss and the abscess continued to grow until they found the right remedy and the explanation for what caused it,” Benner said. 

Finally, there was a breakthrough. Aggregatibacter aphrophilus, a common bacteria residing in the mouth, caused his blood to become septic and resulted in the growth of a baseball-sized abscess in his liver. The rare medical condition has only been reported a handful of times in the world. 

Once he was diagnosed, doctors were able to provide appropriate treatment. Benner’s condition finally started to turn around for the better as he was put on medications to help with the infection.

Eventually, Benner was able to return home and continues treatment as the abscess shrinks. 

Benner says that recovery isn’t easy but the thought of returning to his old self and chasing his goals again is what keeps him going.

“It changed me a lot,” Benner said. “I no longer take the small things for granted because I realize that tomorrow is never promised.”

Benner is slowly acclimating back to the lifestyle he once lived. 

He is active again at work where he has spent the last two years providing cargo and personnel transportation around Ramstein Air Base. His impact has even stretched outside of the Kaiserslautern Military Community by supporting operations that have ongoing impacts across Eastern Europe. Additionally, he took it upon himself as a physical training leader to lead group exercises for his entire squadron, ensuring that all of his wingmen passed the physical training assessment.

Outside of work he is returning to the activities he loves most, playing rugby, weightlifting and traveling. 

“I’ve missed out on a lot in the past couple of months,” Benner said. “I can’t wait to get back on track and chase my goals with this newfound motivation.”