Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ryan A. Woodward dies 'of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire during combat operations '

A soldier from Fort Wayne has died of wounds suffered in combat in Iraq, the Department of Defense said Monday.

Army Cpl. Ryan A. Woodward, 22, died Saturday after he was wounded by small arms fire when insurgents attacked his unit near Baghdad, military officials said.

Woodward was assigned to the 73rd Cavalry Regiment (2nd Brigade Combat Team) of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“Woodward was athletic and very outgoing, he always liked to tell jokes and always tried his hardest,” said Spc. Ceasar Chavez, a friend and fellow soldier. “He loved his friends; we were all pretty close.”

Woodward was a 2003 graduate of Carroll High School, where he played football and wrestled. He joined the Army in February 2006 and was later assigned duty as a Scout Javelin Gunner.

“He was concerned about what was going on over there in Iraq with 9-11 ,” said his mother, Sue Woodward of Fort Wayne. “He was very proud of what he was doing.”

He is also survived by his father, Michael, a brother and two sisters.

Among other military honors, he had been awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Woodward was the 91st Indiana military service member to have died after being sent to the Mideast for the war in Iraq.

From the Chesterton Tribune

On Saturday at 4 p.m., the Woodward family of Fort Wayne received news of the worst kind. They were informed that Cpl. Ryan Woodward, the second of the family’s four children, had died in combat in Iraq.

Ryan’s mother, Sue Woodward, said Tuesday that she was still shaken as she remembered her son.

“He was really loved,” Sue told The La Porte County Herald-Argus. “He loved everyone, and he loved life. He was very adventurous. He loved sports, he loved motorcycling, he loved to travel.”

Although Ryan, who was 22 when he died, grew up in Fort Wayne, his mother is originally from La Porte and has several aunts, uncles and cousins in the county, all of whom “knew him and loved him well,” she said.

One of these, Sue’s aunt, Debbie Morrie of New Carlisle, will remember Ryan’s kindness to others.

“He was so kind,” Morrie said this morning. “He wasn’t the kind of child who needed to be the center of attention It’s such a cliché to say he was all-American, but he was.”

Ryan enlisted in the Army in February 2006 after attending Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne for a short time.

“It came as a surprise to me, but he’s always been that kind of guy,” Sue said of her son’s decision to enlist. “He was always in sports in high school. I think he liked the camaraderie.”

He was also very proud of his grandfather, who served in the Korean War, and his uncle, who served in Vietnam, Woodward said.

Deployed to Iraq in December 2006 with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, N.C., Ryan was stationed north of Baghdad. He served as a cavalry scout for the nine months he was there.

Throughout, he was able to keep in touch with his family through weekly phone calls, his mother said.

During these conversations, Sue said her son remained positive.

“I’m sure he had his moments,” she said, “but he was a very confident, enthusiastic and strong person.”

When Ryan was visiting her during his two-week leave in August, Morrie said she asked him if he was afraid to go back.

“He just said, ‘It’s my job,’” she said.

“He wanted to be there to help the Iraqi people,” Sue said. “He wanted to make a better life for them and for us.”

In July, Sue said, Ryan helped save the lives of two fellow soldiers, one of whom was his roommate and friend, Cameron Stroeh of Nebraska. Although Stroeh was two years younger, he and Ryan shared the same birthday. “They were like brothers,” his mother said.

Ryan helped administer first aid to the two soldiers and protected them from further harm, Sue said.

His dedication and commitment to his fellow soldiers was one of the reasons Ryan wanted to return to the Middle East when his leave was up.

“He knew he needed to get back and help the other soldiers,” his mother said.

Ryan is survived by his parents, Sue and Michael Woodward; two sisters, Tasha, 24, and Brooke, 19; and one brother, Ben, 18.

From the Herald Argus