Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yevgeniy Ryndych laid to rest

Family members, friends and Army colleagues stood silently around Sgt. Yevgeniy Ryndych's flag-draped casket in Moravian Cemetery yesterday, some clutching framed pictures of the 24-year-old wearing his Army uniform, others exchanging comforting hugs and wiping each other's tears.

An honor guard stood at attention throughout the 40-minute graveside service while about 60 mourners listened to Maj. Gen. Michael Mazzucchi speak about Ryndych's passion and devotion to serve on behalf of his country.

"He loved his buddies, his unit, and the reason we all take the Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution -- to protect and defend human rights and freedom," Mazzucchi said, adding that Ryndych embodied Army verities. "It was his selfless service and personal courage that are the reasons we are gathered here today," the major general said.

The Willowbrook soldier was killed when a roadside bomb exploded while he was on foot patrol in Ramadi province in Iraq Dec. 6.

Yesterday's funeral was from the Garlick Funeral Home in Coney Island, Brooklyn. His family, who live in Willowbrook, chose to bury him in the New Dorp cemetery as opposed to having a military funeral in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia so that they might be able to visit the grave often, Mazzucchi said after the ceremony.

"They know he loved what he was doing, and while it's tragic, they aren't at all resentful," he said.

When Mazzucchi finished his remarks, an Army firing squad fired three shots into the air and played "Taps" as the honor guard folded the flag and presented it to Ryndych's mother, Stanislava.

Younger brother, Ivan Ryndych, standing alongside the soldier's fiancée, Kim, repeatedly put his hands to his face, shaking his head in disbelief. Yevgeniy had proposed to Kim over the phone from Iraq and sent her a ring that arrived the same day she learned the terrible news.

The Ukrainian family -- which also includes Ryndych's father, Sergey; sister, Dasha, and his grandmother, Lilya Kolchynskaya -- immigrated to Brooklyn in 1998 and moved to Hawthorne Avenue about a year ago.

To say that Ryndych was proud to wear his Army uniform only scratches the surface of the passion and devotion the young man showed on the battlefield, said Staff Sgt. James Riley, squad leader for Ryndych's troop, based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"He was by far the most dedicated soldier I had," said Riley. "He would have went further than anyone I know. He would put all his soldiers before his own needs."

Ryndych had been leading the squad pending Riley's scheduled arrival next week in Iraq for his third tour of duty. Ryndych, on his second tour in Iraq, enlisted on Oct. 6, 2001, and served in Iraq from August 2004 to July 2005 before volunteering to go back in October with the 1/9 Infantry's C Company.

He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Mazzucchi said.

Riley said he plans to stay in touch with Yevgeniy's family. Stanislava Ryndych "told me if I ever need anything to come back, that I'm family now," he said. "He was just the best guy that I ever knew."

From the Advance

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Yevgeniy Ryndych remembered

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Yevgeniy Ryndych dies of injuries from I.E.D.