By William Biles
On a rainy Dec. 9 morning, family and friends of Sgt.
Ryan Young, Company A, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, gathered at Morris
Hill Chapel to pay tribute to his memory, and to say good bye to him.
Young, 21, was described as a natural born leader with an enthusiasm that
inspired those around him.
"Sgt. Ryan Young was a natural born leader. Soldiers willingly followed
him because of his determination and drive to get the job done," said
Capt. David Newman, commander, Co. A, 1st Bn., 16th Inf. "When you looked
into Sgt. Young's eyes, they sparked with a gleam of enthusiasm that inspired
those around him."
Time and time again, as Young's friends and comrades spoke of him at the
memorial service, one heard a common theme - how Young was an outstanding
Soldier, leader, friend and man.
"For those who haven't met Sgt. Young, he was an ideal leader. He never
hesitated to take time out of his personal life to help a Soldier or friend,"
said Sgt. Michael Clark, Co. A, 1st Bn., 16th Inf. "Sgt. Young was my
comrade and good friend. If I could live my life at least half the way
he lived his, I would be a better man and leader. We will all miss you
Spc. Aaron Swope, Co. A, 1st Bn., 16th Inf. talked about Young's personality
as a leader and a person. "He (Young) always had jokes to laugh at, and
he was always motivated, even when we were going through hard times,"
he said. "He was a great leader to the Soldiers. I don't think there was
anything he couldn't accomplish. Sgt. Young was a good friend, and he
will be missed and never forgotten."
Newman spoke about Young being an acting team leader as a specialist,
and how he overheard him talking to his team during an After Action Review.
"I thought the tactical and technical points being articulated by this
leader were quite good," said Newman. "As I looked around the corner to
compliment the speaker on the points he was stating, and fully expecting
the leader of the conversation to be a platoon sergeant, only to be pleasantly
surprised to see it was Spc. Young," he said.
"One would never know by observing the actions of a fire team or squad
led by Sgt. Young, that a Soldier with three years in service, a specialist,
was leading them. He was fantastic!"
Newman said Young would not be forgotten by any of the Iron Rangers.
"We will miss him and never forget him, as the memory of Sgt. Young will
carry forward in each and every one of us Soldiers. Iron Rangers will
continue the mission with a commitment and dedication in the memory of
our American hero - Sgt. Young."
Lt. Col. Oscar Hall IV, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor, reminded the congregation
of how this was another reminder that freedom isn't free, and how, through
Young's ultimate sacrifice, it exemplifies all that is good about the
nation and its' military.
"We are constantly reminded that freedom isn't free. From the flag draped
coffin, to the hearing of taps in the far off distance, to the unmarked
graves at Arlington, to that empty chair across the room at our Thanksgiving
feast, these were just a few constant reminders that the price of freedom
isn't free," said Hall.
"Today we come together to be reminded that once again freedom is not
free. We come together to pay tribute to another fallen comrade... the
passing of a son... to the passing of a husband, to the passing of a noncommissioned
officer, to the passing of another Iron ranger - an iron Ranger to the
very end," he said.
"Sgt. Young has forever touched the life's of those he came in contact
with, and he will be missed by all. Now that the sun has set on his life,
it doesn't really matter what individual reason possessed Sgt. Young to
sign the dotted line in July of 2000. He is now with those that have made
the ultimate sacrifice, and in doing so, has exemplified all that is good
about our military and our nation," Hall concluded.