Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Army 1st Lt. Ryan T. Sanders

27, of College Station, Texas.
Sanders died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his M1A2 tank during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on June 4, 2006.

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"Ryan and I were in the same Officer Candidate School cycle and I remember him as a humble, but strong leader. I deployed to Iraq the same year as he, but we did not serve in the same unit. When he passed, we both had all but about two years in the Army. Now I have twelve. Soldiers like Ryan, you never forget, especially if you trained or worked side-by-side perhaps just in passing as I did through the same Army course. Ryan comes and goes in my thoughts and memories, throughout my life. I wish I would have had a chance to get to know him more, but I have the memories. I think of Ryan Sanders' family too, and I wish them peace and know others feel for their loss. Rest my fellow brother."
Clint of Davenport, Iowa

I still think of you often and honor your sacrifice. As I celebrate our nation's independence this weekend, you'll be and always will be at the forefront of my mind. See you again in Fiddler's Green.

"Steadfast and Loyal""
Justin Pavlica of Saint Petersburg, Florida /USA

"Thank you for all your service to this country."
Lara Smith of Dallas, Texas

"Thank you for your service."
jonathan of salt lake city utah

"thanks for ur service i hope ur having a real fun time in heaven. i just finished reading your story and it's really incredible. i hope youre dancing in heaven with all ur friends. god bless xoxo"
jonathan of salt lake city utah xDDD

"Words cannot express how deeply saddened I am about the loss of Lt Sanders. We served together in Iraq in the TOC in Headquarters company. I was there when Sanders was killed. I was the NCO in charge of calling in the MEDEVAC helicopter to get LT Sanders out. I had spoken to him that day. Saw him in his gear and told him if he needed anything out there, just call. Id be there for him. I tried everything I could to get the helicopters there as fast as possible and to make sure he was safe. I can still hear the messages going across the radio sometimes. I carry that loss with me every day. I am deeply sorry for your loss. To Ryan, I miss you so much, I carry your tag on a bracelet and have been for the past eight plus years. Iron knights sir."
SSG Rockney John Rhodes Jr of Fort Hood Texas

"June 4, 2012
Sanders Family,
Ryan and his sacrifice are not forgotten."
Phil D of Richardson, TX

"It's easy to see a Soldier on TV. You can find them in magazines, books, movies. Airports, bus and train stations. They're everywhere. Taking up their Nation's flag. These Soldiers are easy to see because they do not hide, they do not cower in dark corners. When you see one, you see many. Standing together, as dependent on each other as their County is on them. A Soldier is more than the proud uniform worn, more than a marksman, more than a symbol of freedom. He's a Man. A Brother. A Son. A Father. A Husband. With so much to lose, yet he seeks to do a service of monumental gain. The sins of man do not go unpunished. Only the dead have seen the end of War. And it's in their sacrifice that a Nation's Colors can rise from the ashes of fire. "The colors of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."

It's easy to see a Soldier. It was easy to see you Ryan, you did not hide who you were. You have, and always will be my Friend, my Brother in arms, a truly great Man who is missed by many.

Sir, it was nothing but an Honor and Privilege. May your Valor strengthen us all. I will never forget you."
Taylor McClendon of Dallas, TX USA

"It was my privilege to teach Lt. Sanders at A&M in the English Department. I'm grateful that I had the chance to get to know him and to work with him. I will never forget him. My thoughts are with his family and comrades."
Jennifer Wollock of College Station, TX USA

"Sanders' Family,
Ryan and I were in the same small group during Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, KY in 2005 and were later deployed together to Iraq with 4ID. I wanted to let you know that I still think about him and honor his sacrifice to this great nation. I will NEVER forget what you/he's given to this country. I will continue to think about him and his sacrifices until the end. Thank you Ryan and the Sanders' Family. I will never forget!"
CPT Justin A. Pavlica of Fort Knox, KY

"Years later, I happened to think of my old friend and stumbled across this website. If the family has a chance to read these words, know that your son and husband is still on the minds of many people who were touched by his life. His memory and service shall live on."
Robby Slaughter of Indianapolis, IN

"I'm SSG Garrett I was stationed with 1lt sanders.
Who was like a brother to me. I remember the
Heated arguments we would have because he was a
Aggie fan and I loved the Longhorns. At the end of
The day he is my hero. Band of Brothers for life."

"June 4, 2009
To the family of 1st Lt. Ryan T. Sanders:
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 was the Executive Officer for D Company, and Ryan took over 1st Platoon from me in September, 2005. I will never be able to express the depth of his person, or the utter integrity of his character. He was an honorable and caring man with a heart of absolute gold. June 4, 2006 was the darkest day of my 31 years, and I pray that I never see another like it. Not a day has gone by since then that I haven't reflected on Ryan and the sacrifice made by him and his loving family. Rest in peace, Ryan, God Bless You, God Bless Jennifer & your family and God Bless the men and women still in harm's way."
Ken Whittier of Fort Myers, Florida

"To the family of:Ryan T. Sanders 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"

"I was deployed to Camp Taji in February, 2006. I was placed in LT Sanders' platoon and instantly recognized him as a man that cared for his soldiers deeply. He made me feel welcome in my new unit and was always there to encourage me while I adjusted to life in Iraq. He was an example to all of us of what an Officer and a Soldier should be: a leader. He knew as much about Soldiering as he did about living and I will never forget his maturity or his ability to make us all laugh. I know that his sacrifice has changed us, but the four and a half months of his life that I did experience have changed me more profoundly than that."
SPC Nelson, William of Fort Hood, Texas

"Its been one year since you were placed to rest Ryan and there has not been a day that I don't think of you and thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. There just are not words to express how thankful we all are.

Love you man"
Matt Taylor of Chicago, IL

"Ryan and his family

You don’t know me and we may never meet, however I know what in your family’s heart and the worry they shared while you were away. I too have a son in the army who had served in Iraq and someday may have to go back. His wife, grandmother, his brother, sisters, and I all prayed, worried, and hoped for the best while he was there. Your mind and daily life changes when someone you love so dearly is in harms way. For us he came back safely for now. Ryan’s family… I don’t know what you are going through and pray I will not have to experience your greatest loss. My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you all. May God grant each of you peace and shower you with His love for the sacrifices you have given of your precious love one.
Lost Soldiers poem:
As I sit here and hear them tell of how one of our soldiers fell. My heart skips a beat no longer can that soldier stand on his or her two feet. Their lives taken just like that. Do we even see the pain in their eyes as they speak of those who didn't come home or do you even think of those who where left to live their lives all alone. I ask myself each and everyday could I have sent my love one away. Think of how their love ones felt on that very day. The solder sacrifice more than we'll ever know. They work both night and day; “Sleep? What's that?” most of them would say. When you're at war you have to be ready 24 hours a day. As I look at our soldiers I have to say thank you God for sending them our way. They guide us and protect us no matter what the cost, so remember when you're praying all those who were lost. Remember their families left behind that God will guide them and keep them each and everyday. Hold them close this I pray."
Danna Newsom of Virginia Beach, VA


God has you seated along his side, a place reserved for His heroes. While we miss you we are comforted knowing that your everlasting smile is there showering upon all of us the enduring love that you had for all whose lives you touched.

I visited your final resting place and found solace knowing that you served so proudly, and yet so generously. You have left the most wonderful gift possible, the gift of love and selflessness.

You have made us proud; you served your country so well and your actions will continue to make a difference to people throughout the world."
Colonel Joe Cordina, USAF Retired of Parker, Texas

"Jennifer, Kay, Jim, Jeff, Greg, and Mike,

We are thinking of you all today and of all the wonderful times we shared with you all and with Ryan. He will be forever in our hearts."
The Briggs Family of Richardson, Texas

"Kay, Jim & family, you are in our thoughts and prayers. We think of you often, and our hearts go out to you. May your wonderful memories of Ryan, that exceptional son you raised, stay close in your heart. Love from all of us,"
Sandi Taylor & Family of San Diego, CA

"Sanders family, our thoughts and prayers are always with you. Ryan was an incredible person and he is dearly missed. Love to you all."
Cordina Family of Parker, TX

"Dear Jennifer,
You didn't know me but maybe you've heard of me. My name is Gabe Cedillo. I served with your husband with 1-66 in Staff. I ran with him or jogged with him since he hated to run. I was so honored to serve with him and I remember his first time checking in with the HQ to take his patrol out. I asked him how it was, and he said it was the best. Sorry not so good with words unlike sanders which replaced me doing the FRAGO I didn't have a master's in English. I remember one night aroun 2 in the morning I was on shift at NTC doing battle captain duty with my Soldiers and CPT Mahle saw that Ryan dressed up as a pirate and popped in the TOC and every soldier was dying laughing but CPT Mahle "82ARB!" yelled at him. He was the kind of guy that'd do anything to get a release of stress. He was a great friend and I will always think of him, even now I hold back the tears because I came home and he didn't. He loved you so much and hated being there late with Maj Yates knowing he could be with you at home. He was the smartest and coolest LT.
Gabe Cedillo of FT Hood

"I've known Ryan since we met early in elementary school. He was a great friend and one of the most sincere people anyone could know. I send my thoughts and prayers to the Sanders family."
David Palmer of Richardson, TX

"I was the gunner on that tank and had the distinct privilige of serving with and being friends with Ryan Sanders. He was, in a classical sense, a scholar and a gentleman. I truly enjoyed my time with him and will miss him terribly. I don't remember anything that happened that day, but I do know that our platoon was truly blessed to have him lead us. LT, I miss you, and I will always remember you as a patriot and friend."
SGT Eric Haines of FT Hood, TX

"Although I haven’t seen either Ryan or Jennifer in ten years, I still remember him with vividly. He’s the kind of guy who believed in himself and what he was doing. I always looked up to him, Ryan is very special. He is a good man and is held in the highest regard by everyone he knew. I count myself blessed for knowing him, and calling him my friend. Jennifer, you are in my prayers. I love you guys both very much."
Andy of Louisiana

"Ryan was my first roomate at Texas A&M (99-00). I have so many great memories of him and his beautiful bride Jennifer. I was lucky to have been able to get to know them both. Jennifer, I am so sorry for your loss, Ryan was and always will be man of the highest integrity and honor. I will continue to keep both of you in my prayers."
Taylor Bacot '03 of Houston, TX

"Our son, Mark Boomhower, the driver of the tank, was there with your son in his time of need. Trust that Mark prayed with your son. Our hearts and prayers are with you at this time. May God give you peace and comfort."
Ed & Sue Boomhower of Vancouver, Washington

"Thank you Ryan Sanders for serving our country so bravely. God bless your family and help them through the lonely days that will follow. May they be blessed with precious memories and the love of your comrades. We pray for a completed mission soon and the return of all of our soldiers. Your soldier's sacrifice will not be forgotten. His name will be etched on a Memorial at the Veteran's Cemetery in Killeen, Texas for all to see and acknowledge his brave act."
the family of a fallen soldier on 3-17-04

"On behalf of the family of SPC Shawn Davies, Our hearts go out to family and friends of Ryan. We share in your pain and sorrow. We have become part of a club that we did not want to join. May God be with you. Ryan will never be forgotten."
Toni Peters, toniannp@sbcglobal.net of Concord, OH

"My sincerest sympathy on the loss of your loved one. May God's grace bless you with the strength to face the road ahead.

Michele Carter
Sister of CPL Gary Walters
KIA in Baghdad on April 24, 2005"

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness,
and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief.
Our nations HERO, Ryan will be remembered by name.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Pat & Sandi Breckenridge / Montana
May we always remember: FREEDOM ISN'T FREE!

"Thank you Ryan Sanders, 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 1st Lt. Ryan Sanders:
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 1st Lt. Ryan Sanders:
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