Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ryan D. Collins dies of 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire'

Everyone who knew Army Spc. Ryan Collins characterized him as a loving, giving young man. Collins was killed in action Friday in Iraq.

Jay Hanley, minister of the Wilbarger Street Church of Christ where Ryan and his family attended, said Ryan was supposed to have come home on leave earlier, but gave up his time so a fellow soldier could come home to see his new baby. Hanley said that was the kind of person he was. He said that Ryan loved the children in Iraq and had told several people they were the reason he and the others were over there.

Hanley said that it was his understanding that Ryan's commander had gotten approval for his company to be home by Christmas because they had suffered so many causalities.

"Ryan loved the Army, and planned to make a career of it," Hanley said. He remembered when Ryan joined up, he didn't tell his parents what he was doing until he had already enlisted. "When he decided to do something, he went full steam ahead," Hanley said.

Kenny Railsback, principal at Vernon High School, said the students and teachers met at the school's flagpole Monday morning before classes to pray for Ryan's family. "That is something Ryan would have been involved in if this had happened to someone else," Railsback said.

Railsback said office staff characterized Ryan as a very well-liked young man. He said Ryan was popular and that a lot of the underclassmen looked up to him. He was also active in his church and a very compassionate person, according to Railsback.

Ryan was competitive and put in everything he had when he got on a football field or on a basketball court, the principal said. He said he was "a good kid," a hard worker, never in trouble and always had a smile on his face.

Head football coach Keith Hall recalled that Ryan was a great kid to be around. He said he would do anything asked of him, and that it didn't matter to him what he, as the coach, wanted or needed him to do - he did his best.

Hall remembered the last football game of the 2003 season. He said Vernon had to beat Childress to make the playoffs. Ryan made a catch that broke the game open.

"He had a lot of heart, (and) he would do whatever he could for anybody, just like he did giving up his time for his fellow soldier," Hall said.

Jameson Hanley said he and Ryan were really good buddies. He said Ryan always put others before himself and always made others feel good about being around him.

He recalled the time when Ryan was home on leave while stationed in Alaska.

"It was my birthday, and he took time to spend with me and take me out to Wal-Mart and get me a gift card," Hanley said.

Ryan was the son of Danita and David Logsdon and former Vernon resident Lynn Collins. Lynn Collins is a former chief of police in Iowa Park.

Ryan graduated from Vernon High School in 2005 and joined the military in the fall following his graduation. He was based at Fort Richardson, Alaska, before his deployment to Iraq about seven months ago.

Railsback said, "We turn out some great kids here at Vernon High School, and he was certainly one of them. He is going to be missed."

From the Times Record