BRONZE STAR CITATION
Award of the Bronze Star Medal to br>
Urbana graduate killed in Iraq
Army lieutenant killed by small arms fire;wife stationed in Afghanistan
Published on November 17, 2006
By Gina Gallucci
IJAMSVILLE -- A 2000 Urbana High School graduate was killed in Iraq on Wednesday, his parents said. U.S. Army First Lt. Ryan Dennison was killed by small arms fire Wednesday, said Jack and Shannon Dennison. The Army declined to give them more details. This was Lt. Dennison's first deployment to Iraq, his parents said. He was sent to Kuwait in August and went to Iraq in early September. Lt. Dennison, 24, was a member of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division. The Dennisons, along with daughter Colleen, 23, and Chris, 19, will be heading to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware today as Lt. Dennison's body is returned to the United States. They expect to return today. "We wanted to be there when he came back," Ms. Dennison said. Lt. Dennison's wife, Haley Dennison, is a U.S. Army soldier serving in Afghanistan and is having trouble getting out of the country because of bad weather, Ms. Dennison said. His parents are holding off on funeral arrangements because they want to wait until Haley returns, she said. However, Lt. Dennison did not want a military funeral and wanted to be laid to rest in North Carolina near where his grandparents are buried because he loved the mountains there. The family is considering having a memorial service to honor him. Mr. and Mrs. Dennison, who were both members of the military, spent Thursday evening receiving phone calls from family and friends and looking over pictures of Lt. Dennison. Ms. Dennison proudly showed the pictures of her son and lovingly gazed at the photos. Two pictures showed Lt. Dennison and Haley at Ceresville Mansion on July 17, 2004 -- their wedding day. Another showed Haley in Afghanistan with two Afghans; the next showed Lt. Dennison saluting his sister, Colleen, after she graduated from the United States Naval Academy. The final picture showed Lt. Dennison in full military fatigues with an Iraqi sheik. While at Urbana High School, Lt. Dennison was a member of the football and wrestling teams and was involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Teachers still talk about Lt. Dennison, Ms. Dennison said proudly. Lt. Dennison graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2004. "He thrived there," she said. "It was the right place for him," Mr. Dennison added. Lt. Dennison excelled there -- he was selected as freshman soldier of the fall quarter 1st Regiment, was a member of the West Point Parachute Team, The Black Knights, and was named to the dean's list. In his free time, he was an avid reader and loved history -- especially the Civil War. "I think the West Point motto is Duty, Honor, Country -- I think that epitomizes Ryan," Mr. Dennison said. "He was a warrior," Ms. Dennison added. "He was just an inspiration to a lot of people." Since he was deployed, his parents had received several e-mails and about four phone calls from their son. The last time they heard from him was via e-mail on Nov. 3. "It was a good conversation," Ms. Dennison said. Lt. Dennison made sure his parents, siblings and wife knew he was doing what he loved and was prepared to die for his country, Ms. Dennison said. "Ryan has lots and lots of friends," Ms. Dennison said. "He will be missed by a lot of people. We look at his time here as a gift." Lt. Dennison is the third soldier from Frederick County to be killed in the Iraq war. U.S. Army 1st Lt. Robert Seidel III, 23, formerly of Emmitsburg, died in Baghdad on May 18. U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James Higgins, 22, of Thurmont, died July 27 in Al Anbar.
Young soldier 'won't be forgotten'
Published on November 18, 2006
By Gina Gallucci
IJAMSVILLE -- The last time Jonathan Sanderson heard from his friend of 17 years, U.S. Army First Lt. Ryan Dennison, it was via e-mail on Oct. 17. Mr. Sanderson, 24, of Monrovia, had written to Lt. Dennison asking about his experiences in Iraq and how he was doing. Lt. Dennison, 24, of Ijamsville, sent Mr. Sanderson a response asking him to tell him more about his software job at Management Information Technology Corp. in Monrovia. Lt. Dennison also asked about Mr. Sanderson's interest in studying computer software security features. "He e-mailed me back asking me questions about my life," Mr. Sanderson said Friday. "That is so typical of him." Lt. Dennison's concern for others was one of the many reasons people were drawn to him, and it's just one of the many reasons why so many are mourning his death. The 2000 Urbana High School graduate was killed in Iraq by small arms fire Wednesday, said his parents, Jack and Shannon Dennison. The Army declined to give them more details. The U.S. Department of Defense had yet to confirm Lt. Dennison's death Friday night, according to its Web site. This was Lt. Dennison's first deployment to Iraq, his parents said. He was sent to Kuwait in August and went to Iraq in early September. Lt. Dennison was a member of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2004. "He was definitely someone who couldn't sit around in a desk job," Mr. Sanderson said. "He had to be doing something exciting and risk-taking ... He died doing what he loved." Lt. Dennison was close to several of his teachers at Urbana High School. Steve Wilson, a physics and chemistry teacher, taught Lt. Dennison for a year. "He was one of the happiest kids I ever had," he said. "He was so positive." Urbana High School Principal George Seaton II said several teachers on Friday were taking the news of Lt. Dennison's death hard. "He was a great kid," he said. While many will remember him at the school for his athletic ability -- he was a member of the football and wrestling teams -- Mr. Seaton said he would remember Lt. Dennison for his love of a certain subject. "He was quite a student of history," he said. Norman Crosby, a social studies teacher, remembered Lt. Dennison loved to learn about the past -- especially when it came to military history. Lt. Dennison was named outstanding social studies student of the year in 2000. Mr. Crosby, who taught him for two years, wrote Lt. Dennison's letter of recommendation in his application to West Point. "He was an excellent student," Mr. Crosby said. "He had a great sense of humor. He was a natural classroom leader." Mr. Seaton said he planned to speak to Lt. Dennison's family before the school holds an event to honor his memory. Former Urbana head football coach Dave Carruthers remembered Lt. Dennison as a driven young man. "He was a very hard worker," he said. "There is a reason he went to West Point. You don't just get in there. He was very goal-oriented." Rick Conner, former Urbana assistant football coach and current head coach for Linganore High School, said Lt. Dennison epitomized everything good. As a teacher, Mr. Conner said he would sometimes get tired, but coaching or teaching a kid like Ryan Dennison made it all worthwhile. Mr. Conner taught him for three years in gym class at Windsor Knolls Middle School and coached him at Urbana. Lt. Dennison will be honored today with a moment of silence during the Urbana v. Linganore football game, he said. "I haven't been this sad in a while," Mr. Conner said. "In 24 years, Ryan got a lot out of it. The family is going to get through this." Chris Kline, 24, was Lt. Dennison's best man at his July 17, 2004 wedding to his college sweetheart, First Lt. Haley Dennison. Lt. Dennison is in the U.S. Army and is now stationed in Afghanistan. Mr. Kline is in graduate school in Cincinnati and boarded a flight to Maryland on Friday to return to Ijamsville after he heard about Lt. Dennison. When thinking back on the years he knew him, Mr. Kline said he admired Lt. Dennison not only for his intelligence and physical abilities, but for his enthusiasm to try new things. "He was a good friend," Mr. Kline said. "He won't be forgotten."
U.S. Army promotes Ijamsville soldier to captain posthumously
Published on November 22, 2006
By Gina Gallucci
IJAMSVILLE -- The U.S. Army promoted 1st Lt. Ryan Dennison to the rank of captain after he was killed in Balad, Iraq on Nov. 15, Army officials said Tuesday. The honor was bestowed upon the 2000 Urbana High School graduate posthumously because he had been close to a promotion at the time of his death, officials said. The United States Department of Defense confirmed Capt. Dennison's death by small arms fire late Saturday night. This was his first deployment to Iraq, said Jack and Shannon Dennison, Capt. Dennison's parents. He was sent to Kuwait in August and went to Iraq in early September. Capt. Dennison, 24, of Ijamsville, was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. He, along with his wife, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Haley Dennison, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2004. The Dennisons, along with daughter Colleen, 23, and Chris, 19, headed to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Friday as Capt. Dennison's body was returned to the United States. His family is in Fayetteville, N.C., which is close to military post Fort Bragg. Before he died, Capt. Dennison expressed his desire to be laid to rest in North Carolina near where his grandparents are buried because he loved the mountains there, Ms. Dennison said. He did not want a military funeral. The family is considering a memorial service locally to honor him but no date has been announced.
Captain John Ryan Dennison Obituary - November 24, 2006
Captain John Ryan Dennison, U.S. Army, was killed in action while engaged in combat operations in Iraq on November 15, 2006.
He is survived by his wife, 1LT Haley Ann (Edwards) Dennison of Raeford, N.C.; his parents, Shannon and Jack Dennison of Ijamsville; his sister, Ensign Colleen M. Dennison, U.S. Navy, of Pensacola, Fla.; and his brother, Christopher R. Dennison, also of Ijamsville.
Born on February 22, 1982, at Landstuhl Army Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, Ryan graduated from Urbana High School in June, 2000. At Urbana High School, Ryan played football and wrestled. He was a member of the National Honor Society, a Boys State participant, and a Big Brother volunteer. Ryan received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he graduated in May, 2004, with a Bachelor of Science degree in international relations and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. While at West Point, Ryan was a member of the Black Knights skydiving team and was team president his senior year. Ryan and his wife met while cadets at West Point and were married after graduating in July, 2004.
Ryan completed infantry officer basic course and ranger training before joining the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. in April 2005. In September 2005, Ryan deployed with his unit to New Orleans, La., to provide support post-Hurricane Katrina. In August 2006, Ryan deployed to Kuwait with the Fifth Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. In early September, 2006, Ryan moved with his unit into Iraq, east of Baghdad. He was serving as a platoon leader and a member of Task Force Lightning when he was killed. He was promoted posthumously from First Lieutenant to Captain effective November 15, 2006.
Ryan was Airborne, Ranger, Sapper, and Jump Master qualified. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Combat and Expert Infantryman's Badges. He was held in high regard as a highly effective and charismatic leader by his soldiers, peers, and superiors.
Ryan said before deploying to Iraq that he would want to be remembered as "a young Christian man married to a young Christian woman." His faith became increasingly important to him after meeting Haley. Ryan was a member of the Navigators, a Christian outreach ministry, and regularly participated in Bible studies at Fort Bragg and while deployed.
A memorial service will be held at the Fort Bragg, N.C., Division Memorial Chapel on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. The funeral will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 8 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick, 116 E. Second St. Interment will follow at 11:30 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery, which family and friends are invited to attend.
The Keeney and Basford Funeral Home, 106 East Church Street, Frederick is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.keeneybasford.com.
Frederick soldier always gave '110 percent'
1st Lieutenant, 24, died in Iraq on Wednesday
By Kelly Brewington
Originally published November 16, 2006, 9:12 PM EST
A 24-year-old soldier from Ijamsville who married his West Point college sweetheart was killed in combat Wednesday in Iraq, according to his family. 1st Lt. John Ryan Dennison died after suffering two gunshot wounds during fighting east of Baghdad, his family said. The Department of Defense has not yet publicly announced his death. Lieutenant Dennison, the eldest son of Army parents, was a fiercely competitive athlete and a determined soldier who reveled in every challenge, said his mother, Shannon Dennison. "He had to be wherever the challenge was; he always had to do things on the edge," she said. "And he always had to do things his way." So it was no surprise when "Ryan," as he was called by his family, became a star on the wrestling and football teams at Urbana High School, despite being a slight 165 pounds. Or when he was accepted to the elite skydiving team at U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Or when several years ago, he decided to run the grueling John F. Kennedy 50 mile-race through Western Maryland. "He just did everything 110 percent," his mother said. "He played hard; he did sports hard, and he did his studies hard." Lieutenant Dennison played offensive guard on the Frederick County high school's varsity football team when the school won back-to-back state-championships in 1998 and 1999. Throughout his football career at Urbana, he never played in a losing game, said his father, Jack Dennison. Hanging on his bedroom wall was a poster emblazoned with a quote by football legend Vince Lombardi: "Expect to Win." And that's how he approached life. After graduating from Urbana in 2000, Lieutenant Dennison went on to West Point, where he majored in international relations and became a history buff, taking a keen interest in the Civil War. He was accepted onto the academy's elite skydiving team and became its president his senior year. "Getting into skydiving was like getting into a fraternity," said Jack Dennison. "He was a risk taker. He had very little fear and to my knowledge, he rarely showed it." Though he was known for his focus and dedication, Lieutenant Dennison had a fun-loving side and had many friends, who considered him the life of the party, said his mother. "When Ryan was in the game, he had a game face and was absolutely serious," said his father. "But when it came time to relax, he relaxed." Lieutenant Dennison met his wife, Haley Dennison, also 24, in a philosophy course at West Point and proposed to her their junior year. They married in July 2004, a month after graduating from West Point. The newlyweds took a honeymoon cruise around the Mediterranean shortly before being forced to part ways for officer training that fall. Though their respective training courses kept them apart for several months, the couple reunited in the spring of 2005 when both were stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., where they bought a house and became active members of their church. Though both were raised religiously -- he as a Catholic and she, a Baptist -- the Dennisons deepened their faith as a couple. Lieutenant Dennison read the Bible every day, his parents said. The couple would be forced to separate again when Haley Dennison was deployed to Afghanistan in March. This summer, it was Lieutenant Dennison's turn to be deployed, first to Kuwait and then Iraq. A platoon leader in a cavalry regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, Lieutenant Dennison viewed serving in Iraq as the ultimate test of everything he had trained for in life, said Shannon Dennison. "He wanted to go; he was excited to go; he wanted the chance to lead," she said. " It was sort of the culmination of all the training. It was his moment." Lieutenant Dennison's wife Haley is expected to return from Afghanistan soon, said Jack Dennison. "She's devastated," he said. "They were very much in love. I think they were an ideal couple. Her mother said to me today that they were so perfect, that no one thought anything like this would happen." Services had not been arranged as of Thursday night, the family said. In addition to his wife and parents, Lieutenant Dennison is survived by a brother, Chistopher Dennison, and a sister, Colleen Dennison.
Originally published on Sunday, November 19, 2006 in the Local & State category.
Fort Bragg soldier dies in Iraq
A staff report
A Fort Bragg soldier died Wednesday in Iraq, the Army said Saturday. Capt. John R. Dennison, 24, of Ijamsville, Md., died in Balad, Iraq, as a result of small-arms fire. Dennison was assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Seven Fort Bragg soldiers have died in Iraq this month and one in Afghanistan. For the year, 37 soldiers from Fort Bragg have died in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Originally published on Monday, November 20, 2006 in the Local & State category.
Officer’s dedication was clear
By Al Greenwood
Capt. Ryan Dennison’s life began with the military. His parents met in the Army and adopted him while they were stationed in Germany. Dennison would grow up to become a paratrooper stationed at Fort Bragg. His life ended Wednesday in Balad, Iraq, the result of small-arms fire. He was 24. Dennison’s interest in the military began as a child, said Jonathan Sanderson, who grew up with Dennison in Ijamsville, Md. When Dennison’s Cub Scout troop held a father-son cake bake, he decorated his cake to look like a seal from the Army, Sanderson said. Dennison was an active child who got his hands into everything, Sanderson said. “He was always looking for excitement.” Dennison met his best friend, Chris Kline, through one of his adventures. In middle school, Kline said, the two wanted to buy soft drinks from a vending machine. However, the machine was off-limits to students. Dennison watched for any teachers while Kline bought the drinks. Despite the mischievous streak, Dennison was a serious athlete, Sanderson said. He played offensive guard for Urbana High School’s football team. “He was really small, but he had the heart and the strength,” Sanderson said. “He wasn’t afraid to push around the big guys.” For motivation, Dennison camped out at the high school on the night before a big game, Sanderson said. Urbana won. Off the field, Dennison was a dedicated student with an interest in military history, Sanderson said. But he doesn’t know how well Dennison performed in his classes. Dennison didn’t talk about his achievements. When Dennison was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy, he told his friends in passing, Sanderson said. He didn’t make an announcement. Dennison remained unassuming through college, Kline said. At West Point, Dennison began parachuting. It was only later that Kline discovered that he belonged to the Black Knights, West Point’s Parachute Team. “It would be like pulling teeth to talk about these things,” Kline said. “His humility was unbelievable.” Spouse in service At West Point, Dennison met his wife, Haley. She is a first lieutenant stationed in Afghanistan. In the Army, Dennison was a platoon leader. He was assigned to Troop B, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Dennison cared about his men, said 1st Lt. Robert Moore, the 5th Squadron’s rear detachment commander. “If they didn’t have enough to eat, he gave them what he had. ... If they were tired, he let them sleep and he stayed up,” Moore told the Associated Press. “His paratroopers were his brothers, and he loved and respected them.” Dennison’s unit was deployed in Kuwait in August and in Iraq in September. His father, John Dennison, said that his family last saw Ryan the weekend before he went to Kuwait. They last heard from him, in an e-mail, on Nov. 3. “He was looking forward to (going to Iraq),” John Dennison said. “He wanted to lead troops and felt that’s what he had been trained to do and wanted to go do it.” The Associated Press contributed to this story.
The News & Observer
82nd paratrooper dies in Iraq combat
Dennison was a graduate of West Point
BALTIMORE - A West Point graduate from Maryland who was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Saturday. First Lt. J. Ryan Dennison, 24, was a 2000 graduate of Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Md., and a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He died Wednesday in small-arms fire during combat operations near Kirkush, military officials said. Dennison was a platoon leader assigned to Troop B, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. First Lt. Robert Moore, the 5th Squadron's rear detachment commander and a friend of Dennison's, said Dennison cared about his men. "If they didn't have enough to eat, he gave them what he had. ... If they were tired he let them sleep and he stayed up," Moore said. "His paratroopers were his brothers and he loved and respected them." Dennison's unit had been deployed to Kuwait in August and to Iraq in September. His father, John Dennison, said his family last saw Ryan the weekend before he went to Kuwait. They last heard from him, in an e-mail message, Nov. 3. Dennison's father said his son had been looking forward to going to Iraq. "He wanted to lead troops and felt that's what he had been trained to do and wanted to go do it." Calling his son an "extraordinary young man," John Dennison said Ryan was a wrestler and played football in high school. "He was adventuresome, always wanting to do things that were challenging," his father said. Ryan Dennison was a member of the Black Knights, West Point's Parachute Team. In a 2003 story by ESPN.com about the Black Knights, Ryan Dennison described skydiving: "Put it this way -- picture the wildest, craziest roller coaster you've ever been on. Picture that on steroids. That's what it's like." John Dennison said he and his wife, Shannon, met while the two served in the Army, and adopted Ryan while they were stationed in Germany. In his sophomore year, Ryan Dennison attended a presentation at his high school about West Point and "came home just enthralled with the idea" of attending the military academy, John Dennison said. Ryan Dennison's wife is 1st Lt. Haley Dennison, a West Point classmate who is stationed in Afghanistan. Ryan's sister is a naval officer who has just finished flight school, the elder Dennison said. Ryan also has a brother who is a college student. Dennison was thought to be the third West Point graduate from Maryland to die in Iraq.
Soldier laid to rest
Published on November 29, 2006
By Gina Gallucci
FREDERICK -- Friends and family packed the St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on East Second Street today for the funeral of U.S. Army Capt. Ryan Dennison who was killed in Iraq on Nov. 15.
Members of the Maryland State Police, Frederick Police Department and Frederick County Sheriff's Office along with members of the Patriot Guard Riders escorted Capt. Dennison's body from the church to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.
He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.
Family, friends lay army captain killed in Iraq to rest in Arlington National Cemetery
Published on November 30, 2006
By Gina Gallucci
FREDERICK -- Hundreds of mourners filed one-by-one into the St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday. They all left united by their grief over the loss of a local soldier who was killed in Iraq on Nov. 15.
The life of U.S. Army Capt. Ryan Dennison was celebrated during a morning funeral service in downtown Frederick.
After the hour-long program, members of the Maryland State Police, Frederick Police Department and Frederick County Sheriff's Office along with members of the Patriot Guard Riders escorted Capt. Dennison's body from the church to Arlington National Cemetery for burial with full military honors.
Capt. Dennison, 24, of Ijamsville, was a 2000 graduate of Urbana High School and a 2004 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.
He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.
This was his first deployment to Iraq. He was sent to Kuwait in August and went to Iraq in early September.
Upon his death by small arms fire while conducting a patrol in Balad, Iraq, he was given the rank of captain posthumously by U.S. Army officials.
Capt. Dennison's family issued a statement Tuesday afternoon through the public affairs office of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division.
"Ryan served our family and his country with tremendous honor and courage, and it is our goal to spend this time honoring him appropriately," said Shannon Dennison, Capt. Dennison's mother. "We wish to thank all of our friends and family for their steadfast support and love as we cope with this tragic loss."
The sidewalk hugging the front of the church was filled with members of the Patriot Guard Riders who vigilantly held large American flags that swayed gently in the light breeze of the early morning.
As Capt. Dennison's flag-draped coffin was carried into the church by six service members and two civilians, each flag carrier stood in salute.
The service included readings, prayers and hymns. Tributes to Capt. Dennison were made by Chris Kline, Matt Weintraub, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Rustin Jessup and Jamie Fischer.
The final tribute was given by U.S. Army 1st Lt. Haley Dennison -- Capt. Dennison's widow. She was stationed in Afghanistan at the time of her husband's death. The couple met and fell in love at West Point. They were married at Ceresville Mansion on July 17, 2004.
The funeral ended with the closing hymn "How Great Thou Art" which could be heard softly coming from the church as Capt. Dennison's casket was carried out to the hearse by the eight pallbearers.
As the hundreds of mourners poured out of the church, many had tear-stained faces and used tissues to dry their leaking red eyes.
Those who attended the funeral were given a program which described Capt. Dennison as a man of integrity, commitment and passion.
On its back page, a photograph portrays a solider in a desert looking to the rising sun on the horizon. Accompanying the photo are Capt. Dennison's words on Aug. 7.
"I am so thankful that God has blessed me with so much," state Capt. Dennison's words on the program. "If catastrophe strikes in Iraq, I will still feel so very blessed because I have lived the equivalent of four men's lives in my short 24 years on this planet."I owe it all to God, my Father," he continued. "He blessed me with wonderful friends, family and parents to adopt me! And most of all with my beautiful wife, my companion, my very best friend.
"I pray that I will remain vigilant and faithful as any disciple of Christ should be during a tour in the wilderness.
"Thank you God for all your blessings."
Ijamsville soldier honored
Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006
Hundreds of mourners filed out of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick Wednesday morning following the funeral for Capt. John ‘‘Ryan” Dennison of Ijamsville.
The melody of a traditional Catholic song ‘‘How Great Thou Art” wafted from the church’s interior as dozens members of Patriotic Guard Riders, donning black leather bike wear, lined Church Street holding American flags to salute the procession.
With few words, Dennison’s family and friends consoled each other, wiping tears and hugging, as Dennison’s flag-draped casket was placed into a hearse. The procession was scheduled to trek to Arlington National Cemetery for an 11:30 a.m. ceremony.
Dennison, 24, a paratrooper who grew up in Ijamsville, died Nov. 15 after a small arms fire outbreak near Kirkush, Iraq, with his Fort Bragg, N.C., unit — the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
A 2000 graduate of Urbana High, Dennison participated on the school’s wrestling and football teams. He graduated from West Point in May, and was immediately commissioned as a second lieutenant, according to a press release from the 82nd Airborne Division.
‘‘Capt. Dennison was a superb young officer and warrior,” Dennison’s brigade combat team commander, Col. Bryan Owens, said in a press release. ‘‘He led from the front in all that he did.”
Dennison’s family requested that media not attend the services on Wednesday.
‘‘Ryan served our family and his country with tremendous honor and courage, and it is our goal to spend this time honoring him appropriately,” said his mother, Shannon Dennison, in the release. ‘‘We wish to thank all of our friends and family for their steadfast support and love as we cope with this tragic loss.”
Dennison was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He also received the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Ranger Tab and Parachutist’s Badge, according to the 82nd Airborne Division.
Dennison’s friend of 17 years, Jonathan Sanderson of Monrovia, recently recalled Dennison, whom he met in Cub Scouts, as a leader and an adventuresome go-getter who was more curious about other’s lives than talking about his own.
‘‘He couldn’t be sitting around watching TV,” Sanderson said. ‘‘We were always out doing something. ... He didn’t fear anything in life.”
Dennison is survived by his parents, sister Colleen Dennison, 23, brother Chris Dennison, 24, and wife 1st Lt. Haley Dennison, a soldier who was stationed in Afghanistan.
The paratrooper was the third soldier from Frederick County killed in the Iraq war this year. U.S. Army 1st Lt. Robert Seidel III, 23, of Emmitsburg died in Baghdad on May 18. U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James Higgins, 22, of Thurmont died in Al Anbar on July 27.