Special Letters of Thanks from Family and Friends

Saving Sgt. Ryan
(The Ryan family would like to thank seven very brave US Marine snipers)

Sgt. C.J. Quinlan and Cpl. Eddie Ryan were called to Camp Gannon from Al Quaim, Iraq, to assist another scout sniper team when two were wounded. So they moved closer to the Syrian border to replace the two W.I.A.’s. They left their original scout sniper team Reaper 6, to go on Eddie’s 13th and most dangerous mission. Their orders were to go deep into enemy territory during the night and early morning hours, April 12 & 13, 2005.

The eight man sniper team was to locate a particular house, put the Iraqi family under protective custody with two Marines keeping them under house arrest. Sgt. Kurt Irwin and Sgt. Anthony Cuna stayed downstairs with the family. The other six went up to the roof to set up offensive and observational positions to engage with the enemy. Orders stated there were 150-200 armed insurgents in the parameter close by. The snipers were to engage with the armed insurgents who walked these streets, armed and dangerous, terrorizing Iraqi citizens. The odds were against the Marines but snipers are highly trained to call in for air support and ground artillery from tanks which were in the area for extra muscle if needed. Before the six man sniper team went to the roof our son Eddie turned to his team leader, Sgt. C.J. Quinlan (who he highly respected) and asked, “What’s it look like, what do you think about this one?”. Sgt. Quinlan (who had five combat duty tours in Iraq as seasoned and as hard as they come) turned to his younger comrade, friend and brother and replied, “I think we’re going to get into a gun fight.” Eddie said, “Let’s do it.”. Those three words were the last words Sgt. Quinlan heard from Eddie. At that, they took their positions on the roof and Eddie got busy as always doing his job, taking ranges on buildings, doorways, etc. where known insurgents were using. All of a sudden, the snipers came under intense machine gun fire, our son Eddie was struck immediately and went down with two gun shot wounds to the head.

What took place next was the uncommon valor which is a common trait of these brave young Marines. Sgt. Carl Schaeffer and Cpl. Andrew Senior crawled to Eddie’s mortally wounded body. Sgt. Schaffer placed his own body over Eddie and administered advanced first aid wrapping his head to stop the bleeding. We were told that Eddie expired but Eddie’s God brought him back and he used those brave Marines in a mighty way. At the same time Cpt. Kenny Burdine was calling for a cease fire from the friendly tanks. Yes, the Marines realized that other Marines in tanks made a grave mistake and were firing on their position. Another larger machine gun opened fire, this was a 50 caliber which was ripping through the four foot retaining wall made of concrete type material. Luckily, the 50 jammed after the first burst. Sgt. Quinlan barked out orders trying to save his team while returning fire over the wall and lighting up smoke flares to reveal to the tanks they were shooting at Marines. Cpl. Anthony Lockridge from Tennessee, was also doing all he could do to help his team. Cpl. Kurt Irwin who was downstairs with the Iraqi family ran up to the roof when the gunfight broke out and saw his fallen comrade and friend, Eddie and went to his side to assist. He told us it took at least four strong Marines and a combined effort to safely pick Eddie’s body up and carry him downstairs from the rooftop to the Humvee ambulance. It was no easy task with Eddie’s 6’1’’, 200lbs frame body. With Cpl. Berdine’s precise radio skills, the Humvee was waiting outside for Eddie, then drove Eddie outside the city where an army Blackhawk helicopter airlifted Eddie and flew him twenty miles to Al Quaim for emergency medical treatment, then on to Bellad for brain surgery to remove the bullet. As the Marines watched the helicopter take off with Eddie, they all thought it was the last time they would see their fellow Marine, brother and beloved friend.

As parents we knew Eddie as a great son and a loyal friend to all of his Marines. Our God was with Eddie then and is still with him. His sniper platoon returned to US soil, five months later when their deployment was up. Sgt. Kurt Irwin was the first Marine at Eddie’s bedside and all the rest followed, all but one, and that one is directly responsible for saving our son’s life. We will meet him someday to hold him and to thank him.

Three Marines were written up for the bronze star for their courage and bravery under intense machine gun fire to save their fellow Marine. The Ryan family's promise is that we will fight for those medals that their battalion commander, Lt. Col. Tim Mundy has squashed just like he did Eddie’s purple heart. We fought for Eddie’s purple heart which he received and we will go through Congress for the other Marines medals.

The Ryan family's relentless efforts along with our Congressional representatives, Sue Kelly, Maurice Hinchey, Rodney P. Frelinghuysen and Bill Young got Eddie’s his much deserved purple heart and are interested in helping out the other Marines for their medals and because of Sue Kelly’s help, Eddie is now in Helen Hayes Rehabilitative Hospital in West Haverstraw, NY, one of the best in the nation. He continues to improve-one tough Marine.

The Ryan family wants to thank Staff Sgt. C.J. Quinlan, Sgt. Kenny Burdine, Sgt. Kurt Irwin, Cpl, Andrew Senior, Cpl. Anthony Cuna, Cpl. Daniel Lockridge and Sgt. Carl Schaffer for serving our country in the most dangerous missions and rescuing our son and saving Sgt. Eddie Ryan. We have stood in your presence to admire your humility, knowing of your courage from the time Eddie was struck on the rooftop and transported through a hostile city and rushed to a neurosurgeon, twenty miles away by helicopter. It took only forty minutes which saved his life.

We always welcome you Marines to write, call or visit. Eddie loves you all and never wants to be forgotten but always wants you to be a part of his life. God Bless you all.

Eternally Grateful,
Chris, Angie, Felicia and the whole Ryan family

Wow, I am so proud of my fellow Americans, we are close family friends and are trying to help Chris and Angie out, by keeping you all up to date on what is going on since we got this web site up, and all your generous offers of help. There are so many people to thank, but I know Chris wanted me to specifically say a big thank you to Paul Brooks, the Times Herald Record reporter who has so diligently been reporting on Eddie. He has a true need to help Eddie and he gets the word out about him anytime he can. Because of him, we have all come together, on behalf of the Ryan family, THANK YOU Paul! Another big thank you to A&E Advertising and Web Design for working until 4am to get this web site up and donating it.

It is such a blessing to find a way to help Eddie after the joy he has brought to my life personally and to everyone he meets. If giving your life for your fellow countrymen weren’t enough, we would help him anyway because that is just what he would do for all of us. That kind of compassion for others, runs rampant in the Ryan family. They have always had pretty much an open door policy at their house, you needed something, there door was open. Now, its our turn to show them we have open doors for them and their needs. Thank you so much everyone who has rushed to help, whether with $5, an offer of their time working or just a kind word of thanks to Eddie.

Ed and Kristie Hodus
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