Monday, September 17, 2007

Ryan Woodward remembered

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

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