Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ryen King laid to rest

ROYSTON - Skies were overcast as hundreds of mourners packed Royston's First United Methodist Church on Saturday for the funeral of Pfc. Jerry Ryen King, who was killed last week in Iraq.

King, 19, died Monday from wounds sustained when a bomb detonated near his unit in Sadah, Iraq, killing him and eight other paratroopers.

King's father, Jerry, was leery when his son told him he intended to join the military, he said at the funeral, and encouraged him to choose a field that would reap benefits later, maybe medicine.

A passage from King Henry V best sums up Ryen King's response, his father said: "He which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart ... But we in it shall be remember'd; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers ..."

Ryen King told his father he wanted to be a paratrooper.

"I don't want to sit behind a desk," he told his father. "I want to get out and live, experience all I can experience."

Despite their grief, family, friends and classmates said they're proud of King's choice to enlist in the military.

Franklin High School teacher John Beasley, who taught King civics and English, suggested people tell stories to cope.

"Sometimes we need stories more than we need food, and that's how we take care of each other," Beasley said.

And those who knew King had plenty of stories to tell.

King's great-uncle, Melvin Briscoe, said the 19-year-old almost lost his hearing in a roadside bombing only a few days before the second blast that killed him a few days later. He regained his hearing, Briscoe said, and wanted to stay in Iraq.

"You couldn't ask for a better kid. He was always calling home to check on his family," he said.

King asked that his family send bags of candy, so he could give them to Iraqi school kids, mourners said.

A 2005 graduate of Franklin County High School, King played baseball, and his friendly personality won friends. Jerry King is a social studies teacher and an assistant girls basketball and softball coach at the school. King's mother, Carmen Jordan, lives in Franklin Springs.

The school of about 1,150 students lost another recent grad last fall, when Pfc. Daniel Joseph Allman II died in the line of duty.

King's former classmates John Osley and Erica Lunsford celebrated this past New Year's with their friend.

"We're so proud of him. You try to forget that a war is going on until something like this happens," Lunsford said.

King's cousin, Jamie Dove, now a minister, said talking with King helped lift his spirits when he was battling his own demons, long before Dove chose the ministry. King followed the path of one of his uncles, who also served in the Army, Dove said.

"He liked a challenge and wanted to be on the front lines. He knew the Army would take him there," Dove said.

Saturday's service was painful for Lyerly resident Joe Johnson, who said he lost his own son in Iraq three years ago.

"We're still going through a tough time," Johnson said.

King joined the 82nd Airborne in January 2006 and left for Iraq in August. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Parachutist badge.

From the Athens Banner Herald

Related Link:
Ryen King remembered

Related Link:
Ryen (Jerry R.) King dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his location'