FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012
Army National Guard Sgt. Brandy Simmons
DENVER (9/10/12) -- It is with deep sadness the Colorado National Guard announces the loss of Staff Sgt. Ryan Lee Riley, a fire support sergeant with the 169th Fires Brigade and an Army Ranger.
Riley passed away at 5:10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 of injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident Sept. 9 in Denver.
The public viewing will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Horan and McConaty, 3101 S. Wadsworth Blvd. in Lakewood, Colo.
Riley’s funeral will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16 at West Bowles Community Church, 12325 W. Bowles Ave. in Littleton, Colo., followed by an internment at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Area A, 3698 S. Sheridan Blvd. in Denver.
A reception will follow at 12:30 p.m. at VFW 9644 at 2680 W. Hampden Ave. in Englewood, Colo.
Riley served more than eight years in the Army and Army National Guard, completing three deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. He also served in Slovenia, Japan and Korea.
His mother, Judith Riley, said she chose a stone that reads, “Love of country, family, friends” to memorialize her son’s selfless spirit.
“He had such a love for this country,” she said. “He had that passion. He felt this need to be there and serve.”
Capt. John Sweet, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 169th FiB, praised Riley’s experience, skills and easy way with a crowd.
"Staff Sgt. Ryan Riley was one of those Soldiers who positively affected everyone around him,” Sweet said. “He was fun to be with, a funny person -- and also very intelligent. His skill set as an artillery forward observer had been honed and refined in combat when he served with the 1st Ranger Battalion. He was a combat multiplier for us and respected by officers and noncommissioned officers alike, and really great at training the junior enlisted. His loss leaves a hollow place in the heart of everyone who knew him."
Rileyis survived by his mother and father, Judith and Brent, his brother Jared, and his sister Misti. Alongside his family mourn myriad service members, former classmates and friends.
Chris Underwood, who met him in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in high school, tells a story Riley himself was still proud of a decade later:
As the top drill team member at his school his senior year, Riley wanted to mix up the standard military fare at his school’s talent show.
“We played it off as if it was unplanned and a spur-of-the-moment decision, and about half way through our drill, we stopped and changed out of our uniforms and into our bow ties, suspenders and top hats,” Underwood said. “We sang Mr. Sandman and actually sounded pretty good. We won first place and the entire school loved it. For years after, people would always make us sing that song for them.”
Underwood praised his friend as the most outgoing, social person in his life.
“Ryan was a mentor to all of the younger students we went to school with,” Underwood said. “He was a natural leader, and one of the most compassionate people on this planet. I can't even explain all of the lives that he touched just at our high school. So many people found comfort and strength in Ryan when things were hard.”
Judy Riley praised her son for bringing so many people together, even after he was gone.
“Ryan loved so well, and everybody gravitated toward him,” she said. “I’m really glad he had such a love of family and friends.”
Ryan Riley's awards and decorations include: a Meritorious Unit Citation; a Joint Meritorious Unit Citation; a Meritorious Service Medal; a Valorous Unit Citation; a Royal Australian Parachutist Badge; the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service; an Army Commendation Medal; a Joint Service Achievement Medal; three Army Achievement Medals; an Army Good Conduct Medal; a National Defense Service Medal; an Afghanistan Campaign Medal; a Global War On Terrorism Service Medal; an Iraq Campaign Medal; an Army Service Ribbon; a Noncommissioned Officer Development Ribbon; a Colorado Achievement Ribbon; an Emergency Service Ribbon; three Colorado Foreign Deployment Ribbons; and an Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon.
The Riley family is requesting privacy to deal with its loss. Please direct all media inquires to Sgt. Brandy Simmons at 618-841-4407.
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