Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth, 24, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

SSgt Maseth was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died in Baghdad on Jan. 2, 2008 of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — A North Hills native and one of the Army's elite soldiers was killed in Baghdad in an accident that his family is struggling to comprehend.

Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth, 24, died Wednesday from cardiac arrest caused by an apparent accidental electrocution, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Maseth has a twin brother, Brandon, who is a Ranger deployed to Iraq with the 82nd Airborne, and a younger brother, Andy, 21, who also is in an airborne unit.

Their mother, Cheryl Harris of Cranberry, always has known that her sons might get wounded or killed -- but not by a faulty water pump.

Doug Maseth was told his son was electrocuted in the shower but there are no other details.

Maseth says he's devastated.

"I could have put this to rest a lot better if he would have been shot or he would have got killed by an IED," he said. "I'd have said, 'OK. That's what happened.' How can you justify getting electrocuted in a shower?"

While he waits for answers, he's making arrangements for Ryan's twin brother, Brandon, to come home at least temporarily.

"I don't want to lose another boy," Maseth said. "Who wants to lose one? I don't [want to have] the chance of losing two."

Right now, the loss of Ryan is all he can bear. "I'm heartbroken," he said. "I watched him from when he was born all the way up 'till now and I just ... turned into a good young man - taken away so fast."

"You don't expect your son to step into a shower and get killed," she said.

The Army told Harris that her son's roommate and another soldier found Maseth in cardiac arrest in the shower. The incident still is under investigation.

Douglas Maseth of Shaler said worrying about his sons is a constant part of his life.

"I was always afraid that the soldiers were going to show up at my door, and I actually thought they never would, but they did," he said. "It's a really horrible feeling."

Maseth said his son was a fun-loving guy who enjoyed hunting and biking and had a wide circle of friends.

"You would like him as soon as you met him," Maseth said. "He was never in a bad mood."

Harris said her son succeeded at everything he attempted.

"Ryan was very ambitious, goal-oriented and motivated. Ryan always had himself in some kind of school," she said.

A Shaler Area High School graduate and varsity wrestler, Maseth joined the Army in June 2001. He was a Green Beret serving with Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). His military education included airborne, air assault, ranger and special forces training.

He was on his second tour in Iraq.

Harris said her son had just bought a house near Fort Campbell, Ky., and spent his time before deployment working on the house and riding his motorcycle.

"Ryan loved his Harley," she recalled.

Scott Harris said his stepson wouldn't let obstacles stop him from reaching his goal. For example, Maseth was starting the last phase of special-forces training when he was hit by a speeding car while crossing a street. The collision flipped Maseth about 30 feet through the air and fractured his skull, but he recovered and finished training.

Maseth was getting ready to try out for the Delta Force, an elite counter-terrorism unit, Harris said. If Maseth didn't qualify, he was planning to become a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

"He always had a plan, and he had Plan B, and he had Plan C, D, E and F," Harris said.

Douglas Maseth, who served in the Marines, said his son surprised him when he enlisted because he always had talked about going to college.

"I didn't want him to go into the Army. I really didn't. I wanted him to get an education," he said.

His son said he wanted to try the Army first. If he didn't like it, he would get out, with the Army helping to pay for college. Once Maseth was in, however, he decided to make a career of it, his father said.

"He lived a good life, but he lived a short life," Douglas Maseth said. "I'm going to miss him."

He eventually decided to make the Army his career, his father said, inspiring his two brothers in the process. Sgt. Maseth's twin brother Brandon later enlisted himself and is currently a sniper in the 82nd Airborne, and his younger brother, Adam, 21, is in the airborne infantry.

A former Marine himself, Doug Maseth said at one time, all three of his were fighting in Iraq.

"What I thought about every time they went to Iraq is I hoped I never have one of the Army soldiers knock at my door, and I didn't want to face the facts that it could happen," he said. "And it did."

His sons' serving in combat creates constant worry, but he said he supports their decisions.

"They chose that way of life and I support them, that's what they want to do with their lives," he said. "That is their job. They are going to do their job. It's like you or me going to work. I think that's the way they looked at it."

Sgt. Adam Maseth is currently home on leave and Sgt. Brandon Maseth is on his way home from Iraq, Doug Maseth said.

He will be buried at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Washington County.

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth died from non-combat related injuries on 1/2/08.

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