Sunday, February 18, 2007

Army Pfc. Ryan C. Garbs

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Ryan C. Garbs, 20, of Edwardsville, Ill.

Pfc. Garbs was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.; died Feb. 18 in southeastern Afghanistan when the Chinook helicopter he was in crashed. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer Hershel D. McCants Jr., Chief Warrant Officer John A. Quinlan, Sgt. Adam A. Wilkinson, Spc. Travis R. Vaughn, Spc. Brandon D. Gordon, Pfc. Kristofer D. S. Thomas and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Scott E. Duffman

EDWARDSVILLE - His family was not fond of the idea of Ryan Garbs of Edwardsville joining the Army and going to war, but he was the type of young man who, once he set his sights, would not back down.

"He was just into it. Once he got hold of something, he really focused on it," said his father, Doug Garbs, a lifelong resident of Edwardsville.

Ryan Garbs died Sunday, along with seven other service members, when the military helicopter he was riding in apparently developed engine trouble and crashed in Afghanistan. He was 20.

Aside from his intense interest in becoming an Army Ranger, Ryan Garbs was "quite a typical teenage kid," his father said.

"Ryan was very into sports and into the Army," said his uncle Scott Garbs, also of Edwardsville.

Ryan Garbs joined the Army in July 2005, just a few months after he graduated from Edwardsville High School. He participated in soccer and baseball, but family members said he did not like school and had no intention of attending college.

Then he became focused on being an Army Ranger, and he quit the traditional sports to concentrate on meeting that goal. He also developed an interest in paintball games, a form of simulated combat recreational activity.

Doug Garbs said that once they realized how determined their son was, he and the boy's mother, Jill Garbs, gave him the support he needed. The youngster set up his own workout equipment in the basement of the family's home and worked hard to meet the physical requirements of the elite Army combat specialist.

He also concentrated more on his grades for that same reason, even though academics was not his strong suit.

He underwent basic training and Ranger training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He made private first class by the time he died.

"It was what he wanted to do. It was the adventure of a lifetime," Doug Garbs said. "We told him to just be careful, and he said, 'I'll be fine, Dad.' And now this happened, and he didn't even get to fire his weapon."

Scott Garbs said the family has deep roots in Edwardsville. He and his four brothers were born and raised here.

He said family and friends have rallied around but that Ryan's sister, Melanie Neeley, mother and grandmother Geneva Garbs seem to be taking the loss particularly hard.

Doug Garbs said the family tentatively is planning a military funeral. A group of soldiers was scheduled to meet with them Tuesday to plan the ceremony.

Army Pfc. Ryan C. Garbs was killed in action on 02/18/07.

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