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Thursday, February 26, 2015

In Memorium...U.S. Army CSM (Ret.) William “Bill” Ryan

Aloha,
 
Sadly I received an email Wednesday that I've dreaded for some time.
 
"It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of Command Sargent Major William F. Ryan (RET).  On the 23rd of February 2015 he quietly crossed the BAR, as he would say." --Corrine Button (daughter.)
 
Private Bill Ryan, 1945
 
I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing "Bill" on several occasions when I was a beat reporter for my first newspaper, the old Hometown News in Melbourne, Fla.
 
Since then, we became friends and in the years that passed, I featured him several times in my blog - and always regret that I just missed the opportunity to meet him in Arnhem, Holland during the 69th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
With a twinkle in his eye, Bill said on occasion that he was the original Private Ryan and I will always remember him as a hero, a patriot and a class act.
 
I will always treasure the letters he typed and mailed to me in response to my emails over the last ten years. (It was always fun teasing him about the more than 50 chapters he'd written in what he called the "book he would never write.")



 
Bill, 2013 (Credit & Full Bio: Xav Van Daele)
 
In his honor, my last post about Bill, (June 6, 2014,) is reposted below the Tennyson poem.
 
Rest In Peace, Command Sergeant Major Ryan. You were truly one of the founding members of the Greatest Generation.
 
###

Crossing the Bar

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
  And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
  When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.
 
###
 
Seventy years ago today, the Allied invasion of mainland Europe began - and D-Day became an instant part of our global history.
From the 156,000 men who stormed the beaches or parachuted into enemy territory, I have the honor of calling one D-Day veteran a friend.
 

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major (Ret.) William "Bill" Ryan (2006)

U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) William “Bill” Ryan is a sprightly 89, but he lives in Melbourne, Fla., and I'm out here, so I hadn't heard much from Bill this past year.

I was a little worried...

...and then, yesterday, I saw this picture (#17 of 31) on a Yahoo! slideshow...


(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(From Yahoo:
Command Sgt Major Retired Bill Ryan, who landed at Omaha Beach 70 years ago tomorrow, kisses a young French boy at a ceremony honoring the First Infantry Division above Omaha Beach June 5, 2014 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.)

My first reaction? Talk about making my day... I punched the air in absolute and pure delight.
"You bloody well did it, Bill! You made it to the 70th anniversary!!"

(Bill's traveled back in Normandy many times, but had told me on numerous occasions that the 70th would be the last big "hurrah" for many of the remaining WWII veterans.)

PS: On D-Day last year, I shared Bill's story. If interested, click HERE.

PPS: Want to hear from Bill himself? Check out this 2-min YouTube video (from 2012.)

Cheers, Bill. A sincere and heartfelt thanks to you, and all your mates who made it home.
Like so many others, I hold dear the memories of all those who paid the ultimate price.

We will never forget. 

###



12 comments:

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Thanks for remembering a gentleman and sharing with us.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember your features on Bill. Last of the great men of honor. You were blessed to know him.

DL Hammons said...

If I'm not mistaken, didn't the BLOG BLITZ team visit you during one of your previous post about Bill? A great man...and a sad passing!

Melissa said...

This is a nice tribute, Mark.
They don't make 'em like him anymore.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sorry for the loss of your friend, Mark. My father and all my uncles but one who served during WWII are now gone also. They were the most special of men. I miss my dad every day and it's been 21 years since he left us behind.

Lisa said...

I went and watched the film and then read your previous post. Wow. Thank you for sharing Bill with us. You were lucky to have known him. So sorry he's gone, but glad he lived. We are all the better for him having been here.

Kristin Smith said...

So sorry to hear about Bill's passing. And what a wonderful tribute to such a courageous, honorable man. So glad I stopped by to read this.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

A fitting tribute to a true hero. Godspeed original Private Ryan.

Spacerguy said...

Truly a pillar of strength and courage loved by all. They're not really dead as long as we remember them..

dolorah said...

An inspiring individual. You do him credit here Mark. I am sure his family, and his spirit, appreciate it.

cleemckenzie said...

You've paid him a wonderful tribute. All our veterans deserve the highest respect we can give them. I don't even want to think what our country would be like without those people.

klahanie said...

My good sir,

A thoughtful tribute to a gentleman and a hero.

Gary

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