Divisive sides come together to honor soldier's sacrifice
As you may be aware, working in the Capitol can be draining to say the least. The days are full of contentious legislation in committees, followed by meetings with constituents and lobbyists to hear each side of an issue, topped with floor session and committee hearings. So, when I can be a part of something that brings everyone together, even if it's for a brief moment, I relish the opportunity.
One of those opportunities happened this week. HCR 13, honors Private First Class Ryan J. Hill. With the passage of this resolution, the Oregon Department of Transportation will install a Highway Memorial sign in an approved location with Ryan's name on it. The Highway Memorial Program is a means to honor our fallen soldiers and take a moment to honor their sacrifice.
Ryan was from Keizer. I remember seeing Ryan when he worked at Albertson's. Now, I often go to the PFC Ryan Hill Park in Keizer. Ryan's mother, Shawna, testified in the House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness. She shared that Ryan was known for his compassionate heart. He was always drawn to the underdog and quick to defend them. Ryan was sharp and a quick learner. He attended McNary High School and then made the decision to go to the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program, a boot camp style high school. He originally went to make up credits, so he could graduate on time, but he ended up completing 2.5 years in five months with an A-minus average. It was obvious that he excelled in this environment.
In July, 2005, he would leave for Fort Benning where he would attend boot camp and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and would go on to be assigned to the 1/26th Infantry Division (Big Red One) in Schweinfurt, Germany. In July 2006 Shawna got the call from Ryan that they were deploying to Iraq into a very bad area. He said to her, "Mom, if I come home, God has more for me to do. If I don't, then I've finished my job."
On Friday, Jan. 19 a little after 8 p.m. Shawna got the dreaded knock on the door. Shortly after midnight in Baghdad, Ryan's group would be making their final patrol of the night. An IED that was command-wire detonated by cowardly insurgents hiding in the shadows would steal this great young man. The unit would come under several hours of heavy fire and Ryan would be the only KIA for Charlie Company that night, although Ryan was the first among many killed on this deadly day. Ryan had finished his job.
Freedom is not free, and this week all 60 House members joined together to honor Ryan's sacrifice.
As always, I am honored to serve you in the Oregon Legislature and hope to bring you good news soon about my bill to bring Sudafed products back to "behind the counter" and my "Daylight Saving" bill. Both are ready to move to the House/Senate floor.