Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ryan M. Wood dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Army Sgt. Ryan M. Wood, 22, of Oklahoma City, was killed Thursday morning in northeast Baghdad when a roadside bomb tore through his Bradley fighting vehicle.

Wood's stepfather, Scott Vincent of Oklahoma City, described Wood as a lifelong patriot who followed in the footsteps of both grandfathers who served in the military.

"What really got him going," Vincent said, "was the 9/11 attacks. He wanted to do his part for his country, and he loved serving in Iraq."

Wood, who would have turned 23 on July 11, was scheduled to return home in December after his second tour in Iraq.

Vincent said an Army casualty officer, along with Wood's commanding officer, confirmed for the family that both Wood and Leemhuis were in the same Bradley vehicle when it was struck by a bomb.

Vincent said the two had known each other while in Iraq and were in the same company, but their coming together in the same vehicle was due to a rotational happenstance.

"That wasn't his regular assignment," Vincent said of Wood, who was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, 26th Battalion, Charlie Company.

Vincent said Wood, whom he has known all his life, loved to draw.

"Last Monday, he received an acceptance from the University of Central Oklahoma at Edmond. He wanted to go there and receive a degree, and continue with his artwork," Vincent said.

"He was a wonderful young man," Vincent said. "He was sweet, and he loved everyone and everything. He was the sweetest you could ever know. He was a lover."

Vincent said his stepson was raised in Oklahoma City and graduated in 2002 from Putnam City North High School. Wood joined the Army right after graduating.

Vincent said the last time the family saw him was for a short while last December.

"Ryan felt Iraq was a job we had to finish. It wasn't something we could walk away from," Vincent said. "He was dedicated to being there, and he was extremely well-loved by all his men."

From the Oklahoman