Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ryan S. Dallam dies of injuries from I.E.D.

NORMAN, Okla. — Ryan Dallam’s quick sense of humor will always stick out in Sharlene Peerson’s mind when she remembers her friend.

Peerson met Dallam several years ago when he was hired by a Norman hardware store.

She was working at the store Monday morning when Dallam’s father, Retired LTC Scott Dallam stopped by to break the news to his son’s friends and former co-workers that the Army corporal was killed Friday in Baghdad, Iraq.

“I’m still in shock,” Peerson said Monday afternoon.

She said sometime last year, Dallam, 24, sent her a post card from Italy. Peerson didn’t know it would be the last time she would hear from him.

Peerson said during Dallam’s employment days, he often referred to her as “Boss Lady.”

“He always made me laugh,” she said. “We all loved him.”

Ryan Scott Michael Dallam was born Sept. 22, 1982, in Norman. He also spent a portion of his life in Arizona with his mother, Laura Dallam. He graduated from Show Low High School in 2002, and had attended Oklahoma City Community College.

His father, Scott Dallam, retired from the Army in 2003. He now teaches eighth-grade science at Longfellow Middle School in Norman, and his wife, Leslie, is a teacher at Norman High School.

Dallam said he received word of his son’s death Friday afternoon when an Army chaplain and soldier arrived at his house. The father sensed something was wrong as soon as he saw the soldiers.

The men informed Dallam that early Friday morning his son was driving the lead vehicle in a convoy that struck an improvised explosive device. The IED was detonated by a cellular phone.

Dallam was told the soldier did not suffer, and died immediately from his injuries. The explosion left a 30-foot diameter hole in the road.

The soldier died along with his platoon leader and gunner, who were inside the vehicle, according to his father.

“He considered the guys in the platoon his heroes,” Dallam said.

The younger Dallam was scheduled to come home on leave next week.

“We were making plans to do stuff with him,” Dallam said.

The soldier kept in close contact with his family, usually phoning at least once a week.

Dallam said he was surprised several years back when his son mentioned the Army as a potential career choice. The father recalled telling the teenager about the risks involved with the military, but he also realized that his son was surrounded by Army life as he grew up.

“I think it was really what he wanted to do deep down,” Dallam said. “He liked the structure and his officers.”

After he enlisted in the Army, Dallam reported to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for basic training, his father said. He was later assigned to a company based in Schweinfurt, Germany.

He was a member of the Headquarters Company, 1st/18th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division that was deployed to Iraq.

Since Friday, both the soldier’s battalion and company commanders have phoned the Dallam family and expressed their condolences.

“His company commander told me that Ryan was one of the guys who was always upbeat,” he said. “I was really proud of him, and it’s reassuring that they held him in such high regard."

From the Citizen