Thursday, July 01, 2010

Army Pfc. Ryan J. Grady

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Ryan J. Grady, 25, of Bristow, Okla.

Pfc. Grady was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Bradford, Vt.; died July 1, 2010 at Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.

Body of fallen guardsman back in Vermont
The Associated Press

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. — The family of a Vermont National Guard soldier killed in Afghanistan say they were proud to hold a public welcome home ceremony for his remains.

The media coverage July 14 of the return of the body of Spc. Ryan Grady was the first to he held since last year’s lifting of a 1991 ordered that had banned coverage of such events.

Grady’s body was brought back to Vermont on July 14 and taken to St. Johnsbury for a July 17 funeral.

The 25-year-old Grady was killed by a roadside bomb earlier this month near Bagram Air Base.

Grady’s uncle, Tom Grady, told the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus the family doesn’t want the soldier’s death to go unmarked.

About 1,500 Vermont National Guard soldiers are now serving in Afghanistan.

Guardsman remembered by commander, family
By John Curran
The Associated Press

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. — His mother in tears, his 6-year-old daughter proudly singing from the altar, his flag-draped casket carried by an honor guard, a Vermont National Guard soldier was buried July 17, two weeks after being killed by a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.

Spc. Ryan Grady, 25, was remembered as a big man with a big heart who wanted to serve his country and ended up paying the ultimate price for it. In a patriotic hour-long service attended by about 300 at the gothic stone North Congregational Church, mourners sang “God Bless the USA” and a soldier read proclamations for posthumous military medals that were presented to his family members.

Grady, of West Burke, joined the Army in 2003 and served in Iraq, where he was awarded a Purple Heart. After returning home in 2006, he joined the National Guard. Last year, he shipped out with about 1,500 other guardsmen who belong to 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He died July 1 in a bombing that injured four others.

Grady’s mother, Debbie Hudacek, recalled talking with him online while he was serving.

“I didn’t see [any] action yet,” he said in one exchange.

“Maybe that’s God’s way of keeping you safe,” she replied.

“But I want to see action,” he said.

“And then this happened,” Hudacek, of Bristow, Okla., told the congregation, sobbing.

Earlier that day, Grady had a meal with his brother Kevin, who is also a Vermont guardsman serving in Afghanistan, according to Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, the Vermont Guard’s commander. Grady’s father, James Grady, is a Guard member, too.

Dubie called Grady a patriot, “in the truest sense of the word.”

“You may ask yourself: What kind of people join the military after Sept. 11? People like Ryan Grady. People who know they may have to serve their country in harm’s way,” Dubie said. To me, they are the next greatest generation of Americans, that’s what they are.”

His brother Jim Grady Jr. said Grady’s size — he was about 6-foot-4 and weighed more than 240 pounds — sometimes intimidated people, but said anyone who met him quickly could tell he had a warm heart. As a soldier, he would sign off on notes with the words “saving the world one mission at a time,” his brother said.

In an unscripted part of the service, daughter Alexis walked up to the altar and stood next to Chaplain James MacIntyre III to sing a song — apparently an original.

“I loved him so much/but at least my mom is here,” was one of the lines in it.

When she came down from the altar, her mother hugged her, and the girl then hugged her grandfather and other family members in the front row of the church.

Vocalist Catherine Currier included a mention of “Specialist Grady” in her acappella rendition of “God Bless the USA” and got the congregation to sing along on the final verse.

In a nod to the roots of the Kansas-born Grady, “Home on the Range” was also sung as part of the service.

Army Pfc. Ryan J. Grady was killed in action on 7/1/10.

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