November 1, 2005

Ellenville Marine earns Purple Heart

By Paul Brooks
Times Herald-Record
pbrooks@th-record.com

Sgt. Eddie Ryan receives the Purple Heart
Times Herald-Record Photos / Tara Engberg
Ellenville The sacrifices of Marine Sgt. Eddie Ryan of Ellenville are worth his nation's Purple Heart Medal, Marine officials have decided.

"Thank God, he got it," said his father, Chris Ryan, yesterday after hearing the news from the Marine Corps. "He deserves it. He is waiting for it."

Ryan, a 21-year-old graduate of Ellenville High School, will receive the medal sometime during the next few weeks, according to his father. The medal has been a long time coming.

Two bullets struck Eddie Ryan in the head on April 13, as he and other snipers took up positions on a rooftop in Husaybah, Iraq. One round ripped into his brain, the other sliced through his left jaw.

Doctors originally thought the Marine sniper would not live.

He refused to quit.

With the support of his family, he has made startling progress. He can carry on a conversation and is learning to walk again through rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw.

Last week, the family learned that other American soldiers had shot Eddie, not hostile Iraq insurgents as military documents first stated.

Through it all, the family watched as other wounded soldiers were awarded Purple Hearts within weeks. Chris Ryan fought to get Eddie Ryan the medal as well, based on the belief that he met the requirements.

"Eddie qualifies for the Purple Heart because he was on that rooftop to engage the enemy," Chris Ryan said. The family still awaits the final report on Eddie Ryan's shooting.

Chris Ryan said efforts by Congresswoman Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, and Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, helped force action on the medal. "I don't know why there was any controversy in the first place," Hinchey said.

This article appeared in The Times Herald-Record on 11/1/05

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