27 Jun 2008:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 536-08
June 25, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Spc. Ryan J. Connolly, 24, of Vacaville, Calif., died June 24 in Khogyani, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck a suspected landmine. He was assigned to the 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamberg, Germany.
(06-25) 22:52 PDT Santa Rosa, CA (AP) --
Ryan James Connolly, a 24-year-old Army medic who grew up in Santa Rosa, was killed by a plastic land mine in a remote area of Afghanistan, family members said Wednesday.
Connolly, who was promoted recently to the rank of sergeant, served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade based outside the town of Khogyani in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.
He was riding in a vehicle with four other troops when the mine exploded Tuesday afternoon (Afghanistan time). One other soldier was killed and three were wounded, said his stepfather, Robert Nelson of Vacaville.
The combat medic had just two weeks left on his one-year deployment to Afghanistan, with orders to report to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey.
Improvised explosive devices, including plastic mines that are virtually undetectable, have become a constant source of bloodshed in Afghanistan.
According to the Associated Press, nearly 2,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence this year in Afghanistan - many of them killed by mines and bombs detonated next to convoys.
"He was a really strong young man - strong physically, mentally and morally, heart and soul - and a loving father," Nelson said.
He said Connolly's wife, Stephi, lives in Bamberg, Germany, with their 1-year-daughter, Kayla.
Connolly graduated from Piner High School in Santa Rosa, and joined the Army in 2005.
He had survived multiple firefights in Afghanistan. Just a few days ago, he phoned his father, mortgage broker Jim Connolly of Santa Rosa, and described being ambushed. His unit was pinned down in a firefight for hours after they walked into a village.
Connolly had taken a leave in April, bringing his family to Santa Rosa. During that trip, he bought a 1970 Chevy Nova and began to restore it. He had a passion for baseball, classic muscle cars, NASCAR racing and all things mechanical.
"He was in good spirits then," Nelson said, "and looking forward to finishing the last three months and coming back home."
Soon after Connolly returned to Afghanistan, Nelson said, a 10-year-old boy with a bomb blew himself up in a crowded square. Connolly was among the first medics on the scene - rescuing about 20 Afghans.
Nelson said his stepson had grown weary of the abject poverty and violence in Afghanistan, which Connolly described as "11th century with cars and cell phones. He hated the way women and children were treated there as chattel. He was a good man."
The medic apparently never tired of practicing his trade.
"He loved helping out in Afghanistan, sewing up the kids," Nelson said. "It broke his heart when he didn't have enough medicine for a whole village."
Connolly's mother, Robin Nelson, lives in Vacaville. His brother, Mike Connolly, lives in Santa Rosa, and his sister, Kelly Connolly, lives in San Francisco.
"He was the best brother anyone could have," Kelly Connolly said. "Very protective, always looking out for my best interest. He was a great husband and father. He loved his daughter."
21 Sep 2007
We live in tents with 110v outlets. We could use beef jerky, rockstar energy drinks, Notre Dame baseball hat. Just snacks in gerneral, hygene items, AAA and AA batteries, We do not have freezer, microwaves, or refrigerators.
I am from Santa Rosa, CA. I grew up in the Bay Area and after this deployment will be going home. I am in the 173 Airborne Brigade Combat Tream, deployed in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan. We will currently be deployed for 15 months due to the "surge". Well thank you for your support and take care.