Family, friends, peers recall fallen soldier on his MySpace page
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Friends and fellow soldiers remembered Pfc. Ryan Jeffery Hill during a memorial ceremony in Taji, Iraq, and again Tuesday at a ceremony at the Ledward Barracks Chapel in Schweinfurt.
But the most poignant memorial for the fallen infantryman may have come from the personal messages that friends and family have left on Hill’s MySpace.com Web page.
“I’m going to miss your … smile and the giant bear hug I get from you every time I see you,” one friend wrote about Hill, who was killed Jan. 20 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
“You may have always told me not to worry about you in every e-mail, message, comment and phone call ... but you can count on me worrying. I know you covered it up with laughter and telling me how things could be worse, but what now?” wrote another.
Friends, family, Army peers and Army leaders all seemed to say the same thing: Hill was someone who put others before himself and treated everyone like family.
In a speech given during the service in Taji and read in Schweinfurt, Pfc. Daniel Agami, a close friend and fellow infantryman in Hill’s platoon, said, “Our platoon is not the only family Hill had. He has a wonderful mother and sister that he would drop anything in the world for. … He would take care of his mother as best as he could while being thousands of miles away.”
Hill would send portions of his private-size paycheck every month to his mother, Shawna Hill, and sister, Cassandra Ramos.
“I still can’t believe you wont be coming back. … You had the biggest heart and the biggest hugs I’ll miss them both. I know you’re probably looking down and not wanting the tears — you never did want anyone to be sad — so I will do my best to not think that you’re gone but to remember when you were here,” said a post Ramos left on Hill’s MySpace page.
Along with poems lauding soldiers and pictures of Hill’s Army buddies, one of the first things seen after opening Hill’s page is a digital memorial for Sgt. Willsun Mock, a soldier in Hill’s company who was killed in Iraq in October.
“I sit here right now wondering why did they go to the gates of heaven and not me,” Hill wrote in his blog a few days after Mock’s death.
“I try every night [to] count my blessings that I made it another day, but why are we in this hell over here? Why? I can’t stop asking why?”
In the Army since July 2005, Hill was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd “Dagger” Brigade Combat Team; his death was the 18th the unit has suffered since deploying to Iraq in August.
Another memorial service for Hill is scheduled for Friday in Salem, Ore., near his hometown of Keizer.
For a closer look at Hill’s Web page, go to www.myspace.com/hilluntouchable.