3 weeks ago
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Baumholder community honors soldier killed in Iraq
California flags ordered flown at half-staff in honor of Pfc. Ryan J. Clark
By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Baumholder has suffered another tough loss, this one made that much tougher by how Pfc. Ryan J. Clark fought to live.
“We all wanted this 19-year-old to pull though,” said Capt. Catherine Carlson, rear detachment commander for the 40th Engineer (Combat) Battalion, 1st Armored Division, during Clark’s memorial Friday. “He fought to get home to family and friends,” Carlson said. The young soldier won that fight, his family and friends with him when he passed away, she said.
Clark died June 29 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He was wounded June 17 in Ramadi when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee during a patrol. Two other 40th Engineer soldiers — Sgt. Reyes Ramirez and Cpl. Robert L. Jones — died instantly in the attack.
Clark was badly hurt in the explosion, “but was up walking around,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Best, who was in the Humvee just behind Clark, Ramirez and Jones. “The medic and I went to get him, and we radioed to base. (Clark) was talking … all the way back. He was in shock, but he was talking,” said Best, platoon sergeant for Clark’s unit, 2nd Platoon, Company C.
Best and speakers at his memorial remembered Clark, a .50 cal gunner, as an ardent baseball fan.
“He loved baseball. They were right on the money about that,” Best said. When the 40th Engineer Battalion was in Kuwait from November 2005 to last May before deploying to Iraq, Clark was always ready for a pick-up softball game. “He was very athletic,” the platoon sergeant said. “He played shortstop.”
Clark was also devoted to his Jewish faith, Best said.
The Lancaster, Calif., native “loved his family, baseball and hanging out at Chili’s (Restaurant) at Ramstein,” said Sgt. John Goodrow, who gave one of the memorial tributes. Clark was funny and spontaneous, Goodrow said. When a new soldier came in to the squad, Clark went up and introduced himself: “He said, ‘I don’t know you, but I really like you because now I don’t have to carry the SAW anymore,’” Goodrow said, referring to the squad automatic weapon, much heavier than an M-4 carbine.
Ryan Clark is survived by his parents, Pennie and Keith J. Clark, and his brothers, Sean and Justin Clark.
Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags flown at half-staff Thursday at the capitol building in Sacramento, according to a state news release. “Today Maria and I join all Californians in expressing our sadness over the loss of (Pfc.) Clark,” Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying in the release. “We wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies to Ryan’s family. Every person willing to sacrifice their life for this country and our freedoms deserves our utmost respect and gratitude.”