Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ryan P. Jones dies of injuries from I.E.D.

A 23-year-old soldier from Massachusetts who assured friends Iraq’s infamous roadside bombs wouldn’t harm him was killed Wednesday when the vehicle he was traveling in hit one of the deadly devices, the Army announced yesterday.

First Lt. Ryan P. Jones, the only son of Kevin and Elaine Jones of Westminster, died two days after students in his alma mater’s ROTC program received a letter from him, reassuring them that he’d be fine.

“There have been a few times the IEDs (improvised explosive devices) have found us before we found them,” he wrote to the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School cadets, “but don’t worry. Our trucks have enough armor on them to survive most blasts.”

He never told the students he had left instructions with his parents to use a portion of his GI life insurance, in the event of his death, to start a scholarship fund in his name, said James R. Culkeen, his former carpentry teacher, who went on to become the school’s superintendent director.

“Lots of kids go through school. Some you remember. Some you don’t,” Culkeen said. “He was one you remembered.”

Jones was a member of the National Honor Society and co-captain of the Monty Tech football team. He earned an award for being the school’s most positive role model.

“He was the kind of young man you would want your daughter to bring home,” said Linda Manseau, a family friend. “He was so thrilled to be in the service. He certainly felt a great loyalty to the country.”

Jones joined the Army in 2005, after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He was assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan.

His master’s degree research project at Kansas State University was on lesser prairie chickens in the Texas Panhandle. The best part of his job as a Fort Riley research biologist was spending time out on the prairie, he told the Fort Riley Post last May.

“It’s one thing to write a condolence card for someone who’s lived a full life,” Mansaeu said. “It’s another to write one for someone who was all his family’s hopes and dreams.”

From the Boston Herald