Friday, March 09, 2007

Ryan D. Russell dies of injuries from I.E.D.

An Army medic from Elm City was killed Monday when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

Spc. Ryan D. Russell, 20, was one of three soldiers who were killed in the explosion.

A family friend of Russell said this morning that he had hopes that the U.S. actions in Iraq would improve the lives of the country's children,

Russell, who grew up in Nash County and graduated from Southern Nash High School, had deployed to Iraq in August. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Also killed in the explosion were Spc. Blake Harris, 22, of Pueblo, Colo., and Pvt. Barry W. Mayo, 21, of Ecru, Miss..

Barbara Whitehead, director of the Greenville branch of Give2TheTroops, knows Russell's mother, Kathy Moore, through Whitehead's organization, which sends supplies to troops.

Whitehead's son served in the same company as Russell, Whitehead said this morning.

"His mother and I have that common bond of having children in the military," she said. "She recently brought in pictures of Ryan with Iraqi children. She was very proud of the work they were doing."

Russell was among soldiers from the company that asked Give2TheTroops for school supplies, children's shoes and socks, toys and soccer balls to give to the children, Whitehead said.

"Those sorts of things help restore a sense of normalcy," she said.

Russell's death was announced Wednesday night at the church were he grew up, Nashville Praise and Worship Center.

"We've all known him since he was 4," said Melanie Johnson, administrative clerk at the church. "He grew up in our church. He was real active in our Royal Ranger program."

Royal Rangers is the Christian version of the Boy Scouts.

"He looked like a soldier even then," Johnson said.

Russell joined the Army in 2004 after he graduated from high school. He was serving his first tour in Iraq and recently re-enlisted for another five years.

"We're deeply saddened, especially for his mother because that's a great loss for her," Johnson said. "We know he's in a better place, but it's not easy for her to deal with."

Russell was killed while performing his medic duties. He was aiding soldiers whose Humvee had been hit by a spring-loaded improvised explosive device when a second device went off, Whitehead said the Army has told his family.

A memorial service will be held at Nashville Praise and Worship Center, and there will be a second service in Greenville, but arrangements are still incomplete.

Instead of flowers being sent to the family, Russell's mother, who now lives in Ayden in Pitt County, asks that donations be made to Give2TheTroops, Attn: Barbara Whitehead, 3109 Landmark St., Greenville, N.C., 27834.

"She just feels that would be his heart's desire to help his friends in Iraq," Johnson said.

From the Wilson Times