Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Pfc. Ryan J. Cantafio

22, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
Cantafio died as result of enemy action in Al Andar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve's 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Chicago, Illinois. Died on November 25, 2004.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Marine Pfc. Ryan J. Cantafio.


Contributions to the Families of the Fallen


Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

Please report inappropriate messages

"Though we weren't close friends, you were always a good dude. I wish you could have lived to old age. I am so sorry you're gone. My deepest condolences to your wife and family. If life was fair, you'd still be here."
Jesse Garcia of Nashotah, Wisconsin, USA

"Ryan Contaffio, As we are approaching Memorial Day 2022, I am thinking about you. We weren't close friends in high school, but we shared a friend and because of that we got to know each other. You were always a fun person to be around. I'll never forget the day that I saw your face on television reporting about how you gave up your life for my freedoms while serving in the Marine Corps. I watched with tears streaming down my face. I didn't even know you enlisetd! Thank you to this day, 5/26/2022. Rest in Peace brother."
Benjamin Wenzel of Portage, Wisconsin

"scary games unblocked"
Jim Harxmon of Manchester

"Ryan you are sooo missed by everyone! We honor you today, as everyday, with love and tears. Missing you always and love you forever."
Jocelyn of Beaver Dam WI

"Miss u so much. Wish u were here to help jay out. Wish u could see Aiden now. We love u and miss u. Please watch over amanda for me"
Danielle of beaver dam wi

"Rip Cantafio,
Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. That day has changed my life forever. I wish it could have happened differently. I remember like it was yesterday. You are a true hero and America will never forget. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family during this painful holiday. I still cherish the memories of going on patrols with you. I love you brother and I will see you when it is my time."
Cpl. Michael Skaar of Marshall wi

"To the family of:Ryan J.Cantafio
I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015.
Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga""

"Every time I see a flag, military uniform and sometimes even out of the blue I think of how lucky I am to be here in America where freedom is protected by the bravest of our countrymen. Without your service and sacrifice our country would not be the greatest nation in history. Your memory lives within all of us each and every day. Rest In Peace Hero."
Seth Bentzen of Mequon, WI

"remembering our first date. It was love at first sight. I miss you everyday. <3"
amanda cantafio

"missing you today and everyday. I just got lost in words I read below. I wish they could have saved you and then you just came back home to me. I love you"
amanda cantafio of lost

"Godspeed, Marine"
R.J. of Plainfield, IL

"Missing you and Loving you always and forever! You are always on my mind and in my heart! :)"
Amanda Cantafio(wife) of here

"I love you Ryan, miss you every day."
Mayna of Ripon, WI

"loving you.<3 thinking of you today as usual!"

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet Ryan. I miss you always and love you forever. you were a wonderful husband and best friend to me and i remember the birthdays we did spend together and smile. Our memories are so wonderful. hugs and kisses"
Amanda Cantafio of wi

"Today is my 23rd birthday and its so hard for me. I dont get excited or even want to celebrate my birthday knowing that tomorrow is the day you were taken from us. This year it is even harder because you did not get to celebrate your 23rd birthday. I feel guilty when I even think about my birthday. Im trying to think about all of the fun things we did as kids, all of the time we spent together, all of the laughs...I smile breifly but its still so hard to get through the day. Thank you for being such a great brother and such an incredible person."
Megan Dorn of Poynette, WI

"I have struggled with deciding what is appropriate or not to say to the family, the loved ones and people that Ryan has touched, but I feel obligated to share. I was present with Ryan when he died back in November of 04 and I wanted to introduce myself to Ryan's mom when we returned in April but could not find the courage. I would like everyone who reads this to know that Ryan’s passing was very peaceful on a very chaotic and tragic night. He passed with some of the very best friends anyone could ask for by his side. Those Marines and Corpsman fought with such anger and passion to keep him with us, with absolutely no regard for their own personal safety, that it changed my life at that moment.

If it is even possible to be cheerful or optimistic under such terrible and unfair circumstances, I can only hope that when my time comes, I pray that I will be as fortunate to have so many people around me that care so much. I to have often thought about Ryan, especially has anniversaries begin to occur and I wanted the readers of this post to know that I have not forgotten your son, brother and husband."

"your on my mind as usual!! I miss you so much! I love you!"
amanda cantafio(wife) of just here

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to you. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,660 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"was just thinking of you..missing you...loving you:)"
amanda cantafio

"Ryan you are a true hero. One who everyone should look up to. I know you are mine. And to Ryan's family and wife, I am a better person for knowing Ryan and i will miss him until the day I die. He is the type of person who we should all aspire to be."
R. Ehrhart of Montgomery ,IL

"I love you forever and miss you always...
Thinking of you today and all your wonderfulness!!:)"
amanda(wife) of lost

"If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me
Kind woman, I give you my all, Kind woman, nothing more.
Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by.
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong,
together we shall go until we die. My, my, my.
An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look... see.
And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.
Happiness, no more be sad, happiness....I'm glad.
If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.
Thank you by Led Zepplin at our wedding party It was sung by Tori Amos."
Cantafio's wife of without him WI

"can you even believe our 6 year wedding anniversery is coming up? It would have been so wonderful to spend it with you. I still will with you in my heart always. I love you and miss you forever."
amanda of without him Wi

"I love you. :)"
amanda cantafio of here without him

4 years ago you were still with me well alive anyways. I HATE NOVEMBER! I love you so much beyond words."
AMANDA CANTAFIO of missing my love

"So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here."
Amanda Cantafio of missing you WI

"Well did you ever think you would have a street named after you? It just show's how amazing you are,and how many people who didnt even know you realize what a wonderful and brave man you are. So now you have Ryan Cantafio's way!! I miss you all the time. I love you always!!"

"miss you brother"
jake klipp of milwaukee, wi

"Well it seems like every month has one of those blaa days. 4 years ago Today is the day you left for Iraq. I hate today. Missing you and loving you always forever."
Amanda Cantafio

"I dream of you so often. I wish I could hold you and kiss you. I miss you beyond my words. I live for you. I didnt give up and it really wasnt easy. You are my strength always and forever. Hugs and kisses I love you. I will see you in my dreams feel you in my heart. Forever and always us."
Amanda(wife) of missing you WI

"Ryan-I keep thinking it will get easier as the time goes by, but it doesnt. It seems like it just gets worse and I miss you more and more. There are so many things that I want to tell you, and ask you. The memory that gets me through is when Dad and I came to your house right before you were leaving for boot camp and as I was leaving you said "Too big to give me a hug?" and I am glad you did because I will treasure it forever. You are all I have ever known as a brother, I love you and I miss you so very much. Thank you for sticking around the house for a couple months after you passed, I knew you were there with us! I dont know how but I know that you text Dad the other day, it made us wonder but made us very happy too! It helps that you keep in touch even after your gone. I have realized that I am not mourning your death, I am mourning your future and all that it could have been. I hope that you are smiling down on all of us.
Megan Cook of Poynette WI

"Missing you every minute of every day. I love you always forever."
Amanda Cantafio of wi

"May 24, 2008
To the family of Pfc. Ryan J. Cantafio:
Ryan gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"I love you. Today is the anniversary of our first date. 11 years and I hate spending it without you. Always yours forever"
Amanda Cantafio of wi

"To Ryan Cantafio's parents: My son Jared was born about the time Ryan was and I cannot begin to fathom life without him. The love and adoration others had for Ryan is profound and overwhelming, and a tribute to the loving and caring parents who raised him into manhood; a proud and fearless warrior who loved his country beyond measure. May our gracious heavenly Father continue to bless your lives through the memory of your amazing and precious son and lift you to glorious plateaus of peace and comfort, as only He can, when the pain is more than you can bear alone. Love to you both, in Christ."
Karen Braly Wright of Canyon, TX

"Hey baby today is our 5 year wedding anniversery. Wow 5 years! I still remember it like it was yesterday!! I LOVE YOU with all my heart. I miss you so much. Hugs and kisses always yours."
Amanda Cantafio of WI

"Missing you on your birthday and of course everyday. Happy Birthday Baby! I Love you so much always and forever"
amanda cantafio of wi

"My Dearest Ryan,
This is Mom. I miss you more than you'll ever know. We buried you 3 years ago today. It was so hard saying goodbye. It still hurts so much. I miss your smiling face, your laugh, your hugs, and your sense of humor. But most of all, I miss the wonderful man you grew to be. You had a heart like no other. Kids today just don't appreciate things like you did. You made the most out of the little things. You were one of a kind, and the greatest man I've ever known. I am so proud to be your Mother. I'll love you always!
Sandy Hautamaki of Markesan, WI

"I miss you. I love you. you are always in my heart and on my mind. I just really hate today. always and forever there will still be you and me."
amanda cantafio of wi

"Brave Warrior, your battles are over, it's time to rest your head.
Brave Warrior, lay down in the clover, the earth is now your bed,
Brave Warrior, a flag is now wrapped around you, your grateful nation mourns.
Now rest in peace, and sleep for the ages in the place where you were born.

Brave Warrior, your time was short, now it's time to say goodbye.
Sweet Warrior, mount your faithful steed as you ride off in the sky,
A folded flag is all that's left to remind us, of how you lived and died,
Brave Warrior, they've all come to see you, they've come to say good bye.

When the poppies fate, and the cold winds blow,
and the graves are covered in the fallen snow,
you will warm our hearts with the memory of your love.

Brave Warrior, evening is falling, the fields are empty and gold,
Brave Warrior, your star shinning brite, your spirit of peace we now hold,
Brave Warrior, your ship finds its harbor, where the water meets the sky.
And I will think of you as I breath my freedom, with a tear drop in my eye.
Sweet Warrior, I'll never forget you, good soldiers never die.

Your memory will never die.

In loving memory and inspired by my cousin, and our Brave Warrior, Ryan Joseph Cantafio."
Joe Cantafio of Barrington, Illinois

"I miss you so much baby. I hate this time of year. Clydedog misses you too. life will never be the same without you my soulmate ,my love, my heart. I think of you every night before I fall asleep I try to hold on to our memories and keep them fresh in my mind. It seems the painful ones, the ones after you were takin from me always are the clearest and I hate them I wish I could put them in a little box and loose the key. I miss you ,I miss you ,I miss you so much I have the deepest ach in my heart I dont think it will ever go away. anyways I love you. I feel like you are with me right now reading over my shoulder. You probley are and it gives me a sense of peace always and forever your wife. Your love. Your soulmate. Between now and then untill I see you again I'll be loving you, love me."
Amanda Cantafio of Wi

"High Times, I mean Cantafio...I remember having so many good conversations under the bridge with you after burning down a flavored tabbacy huka...you manned up every day with us, had our back, side, and front...wish it was me and not you...Tafs, all i can say more is that you were one hell of a good guy and if i have kids if they were one-tenth of what you ended up being I'll be a happy father...miss you truly brother"
Sgt. Buddha of Milwaukee, WI...The Greatest Country on Earth

"Our anniversery is coming up:) 10 years together on the 17th. I hate that we cant be together. I miss you so much. I love you. Big hugs and lots of kisses. You will always be the love of my life."
amanda cantafio

I was reading a recent edition of Leatherneck Magazine and read about the Memorial that was dedicated at the Marine Reserve Center in Madison to you and your fellow Marines from Golf Company who were killed in Iraq. I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!"

"this is tony ryans brother.i just want to say i really love my brother and i will never forget that awful night, i hate the night where the two men came to our door we just got back from walmart and it was thanksgiving night when they told us about him me and my family cryd for hours it was aful i will always miss him and i will never forget any thing about him and i hope you wont either"

"this is tony ryans brother.i just want to say i really love my brother and i will never forget that awful night, i hate the night where the two men came to our door we just got back from walmart and it was thanksgiving night when they told us about him me and my family cryd for hours it was aful i will always miss him and i will never forget any thing about him and i hope you wont either"

"this is tony ryas brother.i just want to say i really love my brother and i will never forget that awful night, i hate the night where the two men came to our door we just got back from walmart and it was thanksgiving night when they told us about him me and my family cryd for hours it was aful i will always miss him and i will never forget any thing about him and i hope you wont either"

"ryan is my brother. we always had an awesome time together we rode our bikes together and jokeded around i love him very much and i miss him"
tony katsafanas of beaver dam

"I love you,and i will always miss u"
Kassie of beaver dam

Amanda Cantafio

"I was with you the night that you gave your life for our country. It was a cold November night on a desolate highway in Iraq. You rode in the back of a humvee manning your gun, protecting your brothers.
A few days earlier you saved your squad in a fire fight by taking out an enemy mortar position and kept a squad pinned down.
You were a quiet achiever who never complained. It was an honor to serve with you and to have known you. Bravery and courage are forever yours. My heart goes out to your family and to all those that you knew. Thanks giving shall never be the same for me, I am thankful that you you were a part of our team.

Sleep well Ryan god bless you and your family.

Semper Fi from your brother " Lucky "."
Brian Ivers of Fort Collins CO.

"ryan, it has been more than a year yet everyday I remember the man who lived with me in iraq for those 3 months before you were so suddenly taken away. Everytime I put that uniform on I remember the man we affectionately called "too tall" and even had you only been five foot... I would still be always looking up to you, thank you ryan"
joe of platteville wi

"Ryan, you were a great friend and I think about you everyday. I can still see the smile on your face...and I can still hear your laughter. The memories I have will be forever in my heart. And in the hearts of everyone, YOU, are the hero for us all. I miss you and love you always."
Jocelyn of Beaver Dam, WI

"Ryan you always will be everything to me. I miss you everyday. You are still the first thing I think of in the morning, and the last face I see before I go to sleep. You are my Hero. Not for what you did in Iraq. But for who you were and who you made me. I love you always"
A. Cantafio of B.D WI

"This is for the family of Pfc Ryan J. Cantafio. I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. And I hope you all enjoy the rest of the holiday season with good spirits and happiness. Cpl Abdul-Malik Askia"
Abdul-Malik Askia of Chicago, Il USA

"To the Family of PFC Ryan Cantafio:
We have constructed a memorial to the service men and women from Wisconsin and Illinois who have died in Iraq which includes, as of 6/20/05, 111 crosses. We would like your permission to put PFC Cantafio's name on a cross. We have called our display "Arlington MidWest." It is our expression of mourning for your loss. If you would like us to do this, please email martypres33@yahoo.com.

"As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us, as we remember them." Anonymous"
Marty Preston of Wisconsin Dells, WI

"To the family of Ryan J. Cantafio:

The Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel Foundation will be honoring your loved one at the non-denominational Memorial Day Sunday worship service at 11:00 a.m. on 29 May. We will remember the casualties of the Global War on Terrorism from Minnesota … and the neighboring states of Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Outside of the historic Fort Snelling Veterans Memorial Chapel will be a “Memorial Garden” filled with white crosses bearing the names of the war dead … including your loved one.

I would like to extend to your family an invitation to honor us with your presence at worship as we pay tribute to the sacrifice made by your service member and family. Our pastor, U.S. Army Chaplain, LTC Kenneth L. Beale, Jr. will preach a message entitled “Remembering Our Freedom.” A former Soldier and country music songwriter and performer “Rockie” will pay a special musical tribute. At the conclusion of the worship hour, all of the congregation will be invited to silently pay their respects at the garden and place poppies at each of the crosses. An honor guard squad will be on hand to fire vollies as the US flag is lowered to half-staff and Taps is played.

As this Christian worship service has traditionally been well attended, we would be happy to reserve seating for you and yours. To do so, kindly call (612/970-7866) and leave a voice message indicating your veterans’ name and the number of persons attending. If you are not able to attend, we pray that you would find comfort in knowing that our prayers are with you and all of the fallen heroes.

Leila Campbell
Administrative Assistant
Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel Foundation
web site:www.fortsnellingmcf.org"

"To me you are still my brother, even though are parents decided not to continue their marriage. I miss so much. You give me reason to live my life to the fullest, I think about you everyday and always will.
I love you Ryan"
Megan of Pardeeville WI

"Private Cantafio, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"To the family and friends of PFC Ryan J. Cantafio,

Those we hold most dear, never truly leave us. May you find comfort in love's everlasting connection.

In the Support section of this web site you will find links to many groups that support you at this crucial time. The Marine Comfort Quilt group would be honored to send a quilt to the next of kin. There are many, loving and caring Americans from all over the United States that will never forget the sacrifice that your loved one has made for our Freedom. Please use our link and register so we can send our "Love Stitched Together."

Proud Marine Mom and Proud Member of Marine Comfort Quilts"
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, Ca USA

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Ryan, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"To Ryan's family,
May the Lord bless you and keep you safely in his arms.
I can only imagine what pain you are going thru at this time. Thank you for raising such a fine young man as Ryan.
He has paid the ultimate price for my freedom. For that he will never be forgotten.
If you ever care to talk my email address is crk9551@hotmail.com"
Candy of Poynette, WI

"Thank you Ryan Cantafio, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Pfc. Ryan Cantafio:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Ryan for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Pfc. Ryan Cantafio:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Ryan, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on